India Destinations Tour
 
 

Udaipur

Udaipur, once known as Mewar, is the land that produced a galaxy of patriots and heroes in quick succession, people who etched the name of Rajasthan in every corner of the world. The Mewar dynasty traces its roots to the Sun God. Its history has been a continuous struggle for freedom of religion, thought and land against other Rajput groups as well as the overbearing Mughals and Muslims of bygone eras. Its act of patriotism, heroism, magnanimous behaviour and love for independence can never find any match in the annals of any country.

Once the capital of Mewar, Udaipur was founded by Rana Udai Singh after the fall of Chittor to Akbar in 1568. Although the Rajputs were thrown out of their capital they never gave up their sense of freedom, choosing to give up their lives lives for dignity and honour instead. Legend says that Maharana Udai Singh was out hunting one day and he came upon a sage seated beside the Pichola Lake. The sage said that the king would build his palace at the same site, and then the fortunes of his family would change. The Maharana built a small shrine, Dhuni Mata, to mark the spot which is now the oldest part of the City Palace. Udai Singh chose the site of Udaipur for his new capital and built an artificial lake named Udai Sagar after himself. Later he hit upon a pond said to have been made in the 15th century by a banjara (gypsy).

The gypsy had built a dyke upon a stream for his bullocks cross over. Udai Singh further extended this pond and created one of the most picturesque man made lakes in Rajasthan. The Rana named it Pichola after the neighbouring village of Picholi. His new capital was established when in 1559 he built a small palace, Nochouki, on an overlooking ridge. Other buildings and structures soon mushroomed around the palace. With successive generations the marble and granite palace of the Rana spread out, always allowing an architectural excellence quite unique to the Mewar dynasty. The city palace went on expanding until it could claim itself to be one of the largest palaces in the world.

Sisodias, offshoots of the Chauhanas who ruled the Mewar region, were against Mughal dominion and tried every trick possible to distance themselves from them. Udaipur remained untouched from Mughal religious and aesthetics influences and remained so till the coming of the Europeans. Maharana Fateh Singh of Udaipur was the only royalty who did not attend the Delhi Durbar for King George V in 1911. This fierce sense of independence earned them the highest gun salute in Rajasthan, 19 against the 17 each of Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bundi, Bikaner, Kota and Karauli. Udaipur retained its romantic quality and Rosita Forbes, who passed this land of bravery during the decline of the British Raj, described it as "like no other place on earth."