Home to some of the most sumptuous royal palaces in the world, and set against the rugged terrain of Mewar, Udaipur is an absolute gem - a must see for travelers in search of royalty at its finest. Commonly known as the Jewel of Mewar, Udaipur was founded by Maharajah Udaisingh in the 16th century. The city is nestled alongside a gorgeous lake, and surrounded by low lying hills, dotted with impressive palaces and temples.
Shiv Niwas Palace
The breathtakingly gorgeous Shiv Niwas Palace in Udaipur is part of the larger City Palace. It is a blend of Mughal decorative art and Rajput military style architecture. Perched atop a hill, beside the radiant Pichola Lake, the City Palace is a colossal, jaw-dropping manifestation of utter beauty; it's an amalgamation of, not one, but four separate stunning palaces - all joyously exhibiting their own historical grandeur in unison. The exterior walls are unadorned and minimalist - yet, majestic and imposing at the same time, while the interior provides a veritable showcase of Mewar's admiration for the Mughal durbars. Ever-curious visitors can witness the extensive use of marble inlay work; paintings and mosaics in geometric and floral patterns; frescoes; colored glass and decorative pavilions.
In times gone by, the Shiv Niwas was the ancient guest house of the Mewar royals; today it is one of the most luxurious royal attractions in Udaipur - boasting an ambience that beckons to take one back in time to an era of Maharajas, valor and romance. Family portraits, original antique fixtures, and furnishings from the house of Mewar give Shiv Niwas a charm unparalleled by any other regal fortress alike. Standing on a balcony of one of any of the rooms here, one can take in the wonderful, tranquil view of Lake Pichola, the Lake Palace and Jagmandir.
Shiv Niwas Palace has been awarded the 'Heritage Award for Excellence' over a number of years by the National Tourism Board.
The legendary Udaipur City Palace attracts thousands of visitors every day. It is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan providing an unforgettable picturesque view of beautiful Lake Pichola. The palace is a grandiose architectural spectacle; it is surrounded by crenellated walls, and sits smugly atop a hill overlooking the turquoise lake and Udaipur's surrounding hinterland. It boasts a conglomeration of: courtyards, pavilions, terraces, corridor-rooms, and hanging gardens. The main entrance is through the magnificent triple arched gate: The Tripolia with eight marble porticos.
The Lake Palace Hotel
The Lake Palace is aptly set upon the rippling Lake Pichola. This is one of the world's most romantic water palaces - giving luxury-loving visitors an unsurpassed taste of glamour and royal magnificence. Conceived out of legend and saga, the palace was erected in 1746, by Maharana Jagat Singh II, 62nd successor to the royal dynasty of Mewar - believed to be descendants of the Sun God. Set against the backdrop of the majestic Aravalli Mountains, and elegantly tucked away to one side of the lake, the Lake Palace spreads across a four-acre island - an almost surreal vision personified in white marble.
The exquisite Crystal Gallery is another of Udaipur's finest treasures. Located at the Fateh Prakash Palace, it houses some of the most beautifully bejeweled crystal pieces in India. The gallery was commissioned by Maharana Sajjan Singh, and was opened to the public in 1994. Crystal tables, sofa sets, dining table, dressers, fountains, beds, washing bowls, decanters, perfume bottles, and even a richly ornamented crystal carp, are but a few of the riches to be found in this remarkable gallery.
The Durbar Hall at the Fateh Prakash Palace is undoubtedly one of the most lavish in India. It goes without saying, that this is one of the grandest chambers in Udaipur, and its sheer size makes one gasp in awe. The chandelier in the middle is the hall's most striking feature; visitors will also note the exquisite array of paintings of Maharanas and various weapons that adorn the walls. The hall also has a superb ceiling and is surrounded by viewing galleries from where the ladies of the palace could view from the privacy of their veils.
Vintage Car Museum
Tourists and car enthusiasts who visit this city, cannot afford to miss visiting the famous, Vintage Car Collection. Located within the grounds of the Garden Hotel, the illustrious museum is home to a superb collection of rare, classic vintage cars. The museum comprises of a variety of classic and interestingly rare transportation vehicles; some stately and vintage-like.
Sound & Light Show
For visitors in search of a truly surreal and unforgettable experience, the one hour-long: Sound and Light show - hosted at the beautiful Udaipur City Palace, is a must. This idyllic location is witness to the changing fortunes of Mewar, providing the perfect setting and backdrop for this memorable visual and auditory spectacle. The Sound and Light show seeks to recreate Mewar's glorious history in a delightful play of light and sound; as a narrative in English, it evokes significant episodes in the eventful centuries of the region's history.
Sunset Boat Cruises
As the sun sets in the evening tourists to Udaipur have the option of taking a luxurious boat cruise on Lake Pichhola . Sit back as the boat slowly cruises along the placid waters of the lake; enjoy stunning views of the many ornately carved Havelis and mansions dotting the low-lying hills and shores. One can also visit the island palace: Jagmandir, where according to legends, the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan took shelter and got inspired to build the Taj mahal.
Udaipur has countless shopping places offering many interesting local crafts, especially paintings in the Rajput - Mughal style. The rich culture and heritage has given rise to many objects of beauty. One can buy from a captivating collection of exquisite beauty dainty folk toys, brightly coloured garments, hand printed textiles, batiks and tie & dye sarees and fabrics and lots more.