Udaipur was named after Maharaja Udai Singh, who founded the city in the middle of the 16th century after his former capital of Chittorgarh was sacked by the Mughal emperor, Akbar.
The Maharaja of Udaipur is the leader of the Mewar Rajputs, and he is the highest-ranked Rajput ruler. The Maharaja is known as the “Sun King” and has the emblem of the sun on his standard. The city was once completely surrounded by a wall, but all that remains now are the gates and some pieces of wall in the city’s upper areas. The wall surrounding the old city has five gates with iron spikes on them to protect against elephant attacks. City Palace This is the largest palace in Rajasthan.
Udai Singh began construction in 1559, but additions have been built over the years. It is now partly the residence of the present Maharaja, part museum, and part luxury hotel. There are great views of Lake Pichola and the city from the upper balconies and terraces.
The museum is divided into two sections, the Mardhana Mahal (men’s palace) and Janana Mahal (women’s palace). The Mardhana Mahal is much more interesting, and many people do not even go to the Janana Mahal. Visitors enter the north gate of the palace, Tripolia Gate (1725), which has eight marble arches.
Upon entering the museum part of the palace, you come to the Raja Angan Chowk (the Royal Courtyard). Around it are rooms filled with Udaipur miniature paintings. There is one painting that appears three-dimensional when viewed from a distance. There is a white, life-sized marble bust of Maharaja Rana Pratap, and a 400-year-old suit of armor once worn by his horse, Chetak.
The palace has inner patios, courtyards, and marble balconies. Rooms have mirrored walls, ivory doors, colored glass windows, and much more. One room is covered with painted miniatures. The Mor Chowk (Peacock Courtyard) has glass peacocks made up of thousands of tiny colored glass slivers inserted into the wall and convex mirrors. Krishna-vilas, which contains excellent miniature paintings, is dedicated to Krishna Kumari, a sixteen-year-old princess who was betrothed to two princes and who chose to kill herself in order to stop almost certain war.
There are elephant stables capable of housing twenty elephants. Outside the main building there is a small, interesting museum displaying old sculptures. There is also the Janana Mahal (queen’s palace) near the entrance gate. It is not as interesting as the main palace and not so well-maintained, but it has a nice exhibit on the upper floor, on the right side of the complex. It houses Maharaja Bhopal Singh’s 1922 Rolls Royce.
The palace is open daily 9.30 am to 4.30 pm; admission Rs 50, camera Rs 100, video Rs 300. Tours are Rs 100 and are good. Tours are provided in English and several other languages. This place can be busy, and should be avoided on weekends. Part of the palace has been made into two luxury hotels: Fateh Prakash Palace Hotel and Shiv Niwas Palace.
Jagdish (Jagannath) Temple This is a Vishnu temple built by Maharaja Jagat Singh I in 1652. It is nearly 24m (80 ft) high and is located about 200m north of the entrance to the city palace in the Old City.
There is a black stone Deity of Lord Vishnu as Jagannath, Lord of the Universe. It also contains a large bronze statue of Garuda. This beautiful temple is the largest and finest temple in Udaipur. There are stone elephants on either side of the steps leading to the temple.
The temple was originally called the temple of Jagannath Rai, but is now called Jagdish-ji. It is a major monument in Udaipur.
The Jagdish Temple is raised on a tall terrace and was completed in 1651. It attaches a double storeyed Mandapa (hall) to a double - storied, saandhara (that having a covered ambulatory) sanctum. The mandapa has another storey tucked within its pyramidal samavarna (bell - roof) while the hollow clustered spire over the sanctum contains two more, non - functional stories. Lanes taking off from many of the sheharpanah (city wall) converge on the Jagdish Temple. It was built by Maharana Jagat Singh Ist in 1651.