Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rajasthan by road - day 8, Udaipur

On day 8, our first stop in Udaipur was at Saheliyon ki Badi.  It is an ornamental garden with fountains and kiosks with a lotus pool studded with water fountains and guarded by four marble elephants.  This was constructed for the female members of the royal family.
Saheliyon ki badi

Next stop was at Moti Magri. Moti Magri or Pearl Hill overlooking the Fateh Sagar Lake is a memorial dedicated to the Rajput hero, Maharana Pratap Singh.  It has a bronze statue of the Maharana astride his favourite horse, Chetak.  Chetak holds a special place in the Mewar history as he had loyally taken his master, the Maharana, to safety in spite of being fatally injured in the Haldi Ghati battle.  He proved his loyalty until his very last breath.

Maharana Pratap Singh Statue 
Special mention is given to Hakim Khan Sur who was a loyal assistant to Maharana Pratap Singh during the Haldi Ghati battle.  Hence there is a statue of Hakim Khan Sur at Moti Magri.

Hakim Khar Sur
Later we visited Shilpgram, a government initiative to promote rural and tribal culture and art from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Goa, and Maharashtra.  Talented artisans are given an opportunity to stay at Shilpgram for 15 days at a time with a stipend to promote their rural and tribal art and culture.  Various groups selling wares ranging from pottery, traditional jewellery, block-print textiles, footwear etc, and various folk music and dance groups form the essence of this village setting.  It is a delight to watch the puppet show, the gujarati folk dance, the rajasthani folk dance etc.

Later we visited the City Palace of Udaipur, a magnificent architectural piece which was developed over a period of 300 years and more.

City Palace, Udaipur

City Palace, Udaipur
Considered to be the largest palace complex in Rajasthan, this palace was the last capital of the ruling Sisodiya clan of Udaipur. The palace was built on the banks of Lake Pichola by Maharana Udai Singh Mewar on the advice of a hermit he met on one of his hunting expeditions.

Suraj Gokhda, Mor-Chowk, Sheesh Mahal, Moti Mahal, Krishna Vilas, Dilkush Mahal, Shambu Niwas, Bhim Vilas, Amar Vilas, Badi Mahal, Fateh Prakash Palace and Shiv Niwas Palace are some of the structures within this complex.  The Fateh Prakash Palace and Shiv Niwas Palace have been converted into luxury hotels.

The lake palace which is now a luxury hotel,  and Jag Mandir are two structures which have been constructed on islands on  Lake Pichola.

One can also enjoy the light and sound show which takes place at twilight at the City Palace, every evening.  The show encases the rich history of the royal family right from the founder, Maharana Bappa Rawal, to Princess Padmini's Johar at Chittor, Princess Karmavati's Johar, Panna Dayi's sacrifice, Maharana Pratap Singh's valour, to the present Maharana Sri Arvind Singhji Mewar.  It is a must-watch and do remember to opt for the terrace seats instead of the garden seats.

One can also visit Jagdish Mandir and Bagore ki Haveli which are at walking distance from the City Palace.

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