Rajasthan has earned its name by being known for its many colours. Jaipur-the pink city, Jodhpur-the blue city, Jaisalmer-the golden city and Udaipur-the white city. Udaipur is popular as the white city not just for its primarily white architecture but also and more importantly for the beautiful lakes in the city which add to its charm. Udaipur was the capital of the former kingdom of Mewar and founded in 1559 AD by Maharaja Udai singh II.
Udaipur has a total of 21 lakes. Yes, that is right! There are two main lakes inside the city and the rest are spread across in the outskirts less than a distance of 50km from the city. Udaipur owes its charm and romance to its lakes which bring a serene inviting calmness.
The most interesting fact about these lakes is that they are all man-made, artificial. They were created for the purpose of drinking water as well as irrigation, by creating dams. If the monsoons are heavy and the dams fill up then they are opened and the water level in the lakes increase. Even now these dams and lakes are the main sources of water in the city.
Lake Pichola, the most famous lake and one that put Udaipur on the tourist map, thanks to the Taj Lake Palace and Jagmandir Palace which are built right in the centre of Pichola. When in Udaipur, a visit to Lake Pichola is unmissable. There are more ways than one to experience its exuberance.
Get onto the rooftop of a restaurant or your hotel and watch the sun glisten gold against the waters. You can also catch his view from the rooftop of Bagore ki Haveli.The Haveli is close to the city palace and a great way to get back in time and relive the royal way of life by taking a tour of this haveli. If possible, don’t miss the Dharohar Dance Show that takes place every evening at Bagore.
Take a boat ride on the lake. The best time would be early morning or evening before the sun is setting. The boat ride has a stop at Jagmandir Palace so don’t wait till the last slot or part of your ride would be after the sun has set. The view of the lake and the city from Jagmandir palace offer a different perspective. Spend some time walking around Jagmandir before you head back to city palace after your boat ride.
And lastly, get a birds eye view of the lake and the city by taking a ropeway ride. The ropeway goes from Dudh Talai to the Karni Mata Temple. The best time to experience the calmness of the lake is at dawn. Wake up early and watch the city come alive as the sun rises heralding the start of the day. But Pichola at night is equally magical as the Lake Palace is lit up and a perfect backdrop to a romantic rooftop dinner setting.
The boat rides at Lake Pichola start from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. You can get your tickets at the City Palace entry gate. Regular rates are INR 400 for adults and INR 200 for children and Sunset boat rides cost about INR 700 and INR 400 for adults and children respectively.
Bagore ki Haveli is open on all days from 09:30 am to 05:30 pm. The entry fee is INR 60 for adults and INR 30 for children. The Dharohar dance show begins at 07:00 pm and is about an hour. Tickets can be purchased after 06:15 pm every evening.
Fateh Sagar Lake is a tourist spot as well as the chilling point for the locals. You will find a lot of the city folk here out with families on an evening stroll especially on weekends. Other than the regular boat ride, speed boat and motor boat rides are other options. The boat rides start from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm and costs range between INR 20 to INR 200 depending on the choice of boat.
The three tiny islands on Fateh Sagar are renovated and turned into parks so people can spend quality time with families and friends amidst nature. There is a walkway laden with local street food stalls. The boat shaped restaurant in Nehru Park is a beautiful addition. One of the islands houses a Solar Observatory which is inspired by the Big Lake Observatory in Southern California.
You can also learn how a stone dam works at Connaught Bund; on the eastern side of the lake. Apart from these attractions, Fateh Sagar is one of the venues of the Annual World Music Festival in Udaipur. This festival is held in February every year and showcases live performances by international artists.
Best time to visit Fatehsagar is for sunset for the view of the sun against the aravali mountain range with the lake in the foreground. The lake is also illuminated with colourful lights every evening which makes for a visual treat.
Apart from Lake Pichola and Fatehsagar, the other famous lakes in the city of Udaipur are Doodh Talai which means Milk Pond and was the source of water for the royal cattle, Badi ka Talab which was built for the drought affected village of Badi in the 17th century, Udai Sagar Lake which is close to the airport, Goverdhan Sagar Lake and Swaroop Sagar Lake.