Udaipur: History, Geography, Places

Location, Area & Administration:

Udaipur, more famous as City of Lakes & Venice of East is 24.58 degrees N. latitude and 73.68 degrees E. Longitude. Udaipur is bordered by Rajsamand  district in north, Chittorgarh & Pratapgarh district in the east,  Banswara District in the southeast by, Dungarpur in south and Gujarat is south-east direction, Sirohi in West & Pali in North-west.

Udaipur has an area of 13,883 square kms which has been divided into 12 tehsils namely: Mavli , Gogunda, Kotda, Jhadol, Girwa, Vallabhnagar, Lasadiya, Salumber, Sarada, Rishabhdeo, Kherwara & Semari.

Imagesource:MapsofIndia
Imagesource:MapsofIndia

History of Udaipur:

The present city of Udaipur as founded in 1559 by Maharana Udai Singh II as a new capital of the Mewar kingdom. However, the history of Udaipur is of considerable antiquity in form AHAR civilization that flourished in the vicinity of Berach River.

The Ahar culture, also known as the Banas culture is a Chalcolithic archaeological culture of southeastern Rajasthan state in India, lasting from c.3000 to 1500 BCE, contemporary and adjacent to the Indus Valley Civilization. Situated along the Banas and Berach Rivers, as well as the Ahar River, the Ahar-Banas people were exploiting the copper ores of the Aravalli Range to make axes and other artefacts. They were sustained on a number of crops, including wheat and barley.

The present city of Udaipur was founded in 1559 by Maharana Udai Singh II  in the fertile circular Girwa Valley to the southwest of Nagda, on the Ahar River. In November 1567, the Mughal emperor Akbar laid siege to the venerated fort of Chittor. To protect Udaipur from External attacks, Maharana Udai Singh built a six kilometre long city wall, with seven gates, namely Surajpole, Chandpole, Udiapole, Hathipole, Ambapole, Brahmpole and so on. The area within these walls and gates is still known as the old city or the walled city.

As the Mughal empire weakened, the Sisodia rulers, reasserted their independence and recaptured most of Mewar except for Chittor. Udaipur remained the capital of the state, which became a princely state of British India in 1818.

Rulers of Udaipur:

Rana’s before Rana Udai SIngh II appear in genealogy of Chittorgarh as Chittorgarh was the previous seat of Government. Both Chittorgarh & Udaipur form part of State of Mewar. The subsequent rulers, when seat of government was Udaipur are mentioned as under:

  • Udai Singh II (1540–1572)
    • 1540, he was crowned in Kumbhalgarh by the nobles of Mewar.
    • Maharana Pratap born in same year (9th May-1540)
    • In 1562, he gave refuge to Baz Bahadur of Malwa. Using this as a pretext, Akbar attacked Mewar in October 1563.
    • Udai Singh retired to Gogunda.
    • Rao Jaimal & Patta – fought with Valor – even Akbar impressed – statute erected at Fatehpur Sikri
    • Jauhar- 3rd Jauhar of chitter (1568)
    • Founded city of Udaipur.
  • Maharana Pratap(9th May 1540- 29 Jan 1597)
    • Pratap Jayanti, is celebrated annually on the 3rd day of the Jyestha Shukla.
    • 1576-Akbar deputed Man Singh I against Maharana Pratap – 18 June 1576- Battle of Haldighati – Pratap defeated.
    • Slowly, Pratap recovered many of the territories , made Chavand
    • Tod, the famous British antiquarian, gave Pratap the title of ‘Leonidas of Rajasthan’.
  • Amar Singh I (1597-1620)
    • Born 1559, same year as Udaipur foundation laid by Udai Singh.
    • Amar Singh fought with Jehangir
    • Battle of Dewar – showed great bravery – killed commander sultan.
    • Finally, made peace with Jehangir – treaty negotiated by Shah Jehan – Amar Singh was relieved of making in person presence to Mughal court.
  • Karan Singh II (1620–1628)
  • Jagat Singh I (1628–1652)
    • Made jag Mandir in Lake Pichola
  • Raj Singh I (1652–1680)
    • Made Rajsamand
  • Jai Singh (1680–1698)
    • Treaty with Aurangzeb
    • Made Lake Jaisamand
  • Amar Singh II (1698–1710)
  • Sangram Singh II (1710–1734)
  • Jagat Singh II (1734–1751)
  • Pratap Singh II (1751–1754)
  • Raj Singh II (1754–1762)
  • Ari Singh II (1762–1772)
  • Hamir Singh II (1772–1778)
  • Bhim Singh (1778–1828)
  • Jawan Singh (1828–1838)
  • Shambhu Singh (1861–1874)
    • Adopted son of Maharana Swarup Singh
    • He was the first to set up a school for girls and thus promoted opportunities of education for everyone.
    • He enforced special measures to curb the Sati pratha
  • Sajjan Singh (1874–1884)
    • Cousin – was adopted by Maharana Shambhu Singh.
  • Fateh Singh (1884–1930)
    • Adopted by Sajjan Singh
    • Built Cannuaght dam on Lake Dewali – now named FatehSagar
    • Built Fateh Prakash Palace in Chittorgarh fort
    • Only Maharaja to not attend the Delhi Durbar, both of 1903 and 1911.
  • Bhupal Singh (1930–1947)
    • On 28 July 1921, following some social unrest in Mewar, Fateh Singh was formally deposed – Bhupal Singh made ruler.
    • On 18 April 1948 he became Rajpramukh of Rajasthan and from 1 April 1949 his title was raised to Maha Rajpramukh.

Historical Places of Udaipur:

Udaipur City Palace:Citypalace

City Palace, Udaipur, was built over a period of nearly 400 years, with contributions from several rulers of the Mewar dynasty. Construction began in 1553, started by Maharana Udai Singh II of the Sisodia Rajput family as he shifted his capital from the erstwhile Chittor to the new found city of Udaipur.

Lake Palace:taj_lake_palace

Now a hotel, The Lake Palace was originally called Jag Niwas Palace and served as a summer palace. Built between 1743 and 1746 on the island near Jagmandir Palace in Lake Pichola, the palace, which faces east, is a wondrous sight to behold. The walls made of black and white marbles are adorned by semi-precious stones and ornamented niches. Gardens, fountains, pillared terraces and columns line its courtyards.

Jag Mandir:jagmandir

Jag Mandir is a palace built on an island on the Lake Pichola. Also called the ‘Lake Garden Palace’, the construction for this began in 1551 and was completed around 1652. The royal family used the palace as its summer resort and for hosting parties. Interestingly, Prince Khurram – later Emperor Shah Jahan – was given shelter here when he rebelled against his father Emperor Jahangir. The palace had such an impact on Emperor Shah Jahan that it went on to become the inspiration for one of the most magnificent Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal.

Monsoon Palace (SajjanGarh)badal

This 19th century palace is built by  Maharana Sajjan Singh on top of Bansdara Mountain . Built with white marble, the palace offers a panoramic view of the city’s lakes, palaces and surrounding countryside.

Jagdish Temple:

Jagdsih templeAn example of the Indo-Aryan style of architecture, Jagdish Temple was built in 1651 and continues to be one of the most famous temples in Udaipur. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the structure is an architectural marvel with carved pillars, graceful ceilings and painted walls. This three-storied temple was built by Maharana Jagat Singh.

Ahar Musuem:

Ahar Museum is in close proximity to an impressive cluster of cenotaphs of the Maharanas of Mewar. The museum has a small, but rare collection of earthen pottery. You can also browse through sculptures and archaeological finds, a few dating back to 1700 BC. A 10th century metal figure of Buddha is a special attraction here.

Udaipur Fairs & Festivals:

The dynamic and vibrant dances of Bhavai, Ghoomar, Kachchhi Ghodi, Kalbeliya and Terahtaali add a sparkle to the rich cultural heritage of Udaipur.

  • Ghoomar dance is a part of the tribal culture of the Mewar Region of Rajasthan. This is a community dance for women and performed on auspicious occasions where the ladies move gracefully in circles.
  • Kalbelia, one of the most sensuous dance forms of Rajasthan, is performed by the Kalbeliya snake charmers’ community with the sapera dancers wearing long, black skirts embroidered with silver ribbons.
  • Bhavai dance consists of veiled women dancers balancing up to seven or nine brass pitchers as they dance nimbly, pirouetting and then swaying with the soles of their feet perched on the top of a glass or on the edge of the sword
  • Kachchhi Ghodi dance dance is performed on dummy horses where men in elaborate costumes ride the equally well decorated dummy horses. Holding naked swords, these dancers move rhythmically to the beating of drums and fifes.

Gangaur Festival

Gangaur is one of the most important local festivals in Rajasthan. It is celebrated in the month of Chaitra (March–April), the first month of the Hindu calendar.  On the eve of Gangaur festival, women decorate their palms and fingers with henna. Udaipur has the privilege of having a dedicated Ghat named after Gangaur. Gangaur Ghat or Gangori Ghat is situated on the waterfront of Lake Pichola. This ghat servers as prime location for celebration of multiple festivals, including Gangaur festival. The idols of Gan and Gauri are immersed in the Lake Pichola from this ghat.

A traditional procession of Gangaur commences from the City Palace which passes through various areas of the city. The procession is headed by an old palanquins, chariots, bullock carts and performance by folk artistes.

Shilpgram Utsav

Shilpgram, a crafts village 3 km west of Lake Fateh Sagar, has displays of traditional houses from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Goa and Maharashtra. There are also demonstrations by musicians, dancers, or artisans from these states. The 10-day festival organised here in the month of December-January which is a treat for the visitor to an array of exquisite art and craft.

Hariyali Amavasya

Hariyali Amavasya (new moon day of the Sawan / Shravan month) marks the beginning of the monsoons and greenery. It arrvies three days before the famous Hartalika Teej (Shravan Shukla Tritiya). People worship God Shiva for abundant rains and good agricultural season. Melas and fests are arranged in several places in the city.

Jagannath Rath Yatra

In Udaipur, the third biggest Ratha-Yatra is organised on the auspicious day of Ashadh Shukla Paksha (bright fortnight) Dwitiya according to Indian Vikram Samvat.

Jal-Jhulni Ekadashi

According to the Hindu calendar, Gyaras, or Ekadashi is basically, the 11th day of each waxing (Shukla paksha ) and waning moon (Krishna paksha). This ekadashi, known as Jal-Jhulni Gyaras, or Jal-Jhulni Ekadashi, like all other festivals, is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Udaipur.

Geography of Udaipur:

Udaipur with its lakes lies on the south slope of the Aravalli Range in Rajasthan. The Northern part of the district consists generally of elevated plateaus, while the eastern part has vast stretches of fertile plains. The southern part is covered with rocks, Hills and dense Forest. There are two important passages in the Aravali ranges viz. Desuri Nal and Saoke which serves as a link between Udaipur and Jodhpur District.

The Udaipur Lake System can be divided into the following categories:

  • Upper lakes: Lake Badi, Chhota Madar & Bada Madar.
  • City Lakes: Lake Pichola, Fateh Sagar Lake, Swaroop Sagar, Rang Sagar, Kumharia Talab, Goverdhan Sagar.
  • Downstream Lake: Udaisagar Lake.
  • River: Ahar River.

Natural Places of Udaipur:

Doodh Talai, Udaipurdoodh-talai

The road that takes visitors to Pichola Lake has another popular destination – the Doodh Talai Lake. The lake is nestled between several small hillocks which themselves are tourist attractions. The Deen Dayal Upadhyay Park and the Manikya Lal Verma Garden are part of the Doodh Talai Lake Garden.

Fateh SagarLake, Udaipurfateh-sgar

This delightful lake, bordered by hills and woodlands, lies to the north of Lake Pichola. This artificial lake is connected to Lake Pichola by a canal. The lake houses the beautiful Nehru Island as well as an islet on which stands the Udaipur Solar Observatory. It was inaugurated by the Duke of Connaught and was initially called Connaught Bundh.

Jaisamand Lake, Udaipurjaisamand

Jaisamand Lake is known for being the second largest man-made sweet water lake in Asia. It is popular among the locals as a weekend picnic destination. Locals say that the lake was constructed to halt the waters of Ruparel River. This lake boasts of a large island, which is home to various species of birds, at its centre.

Pichola Lake, Udaipurpichola

Pichola was the name of a village that was submerged and lent its name to the lake when it was expanded. The islands of Jag Niwas and Jag Mandir as housed in this lake. Along the eastern banks of the lake lies the City Palace. A boat ride in the lake around sunset offers a breathtaking view of the Lake and City Palaces.

Udai Sagar Lake, Udaipurudaisagar

Udai Sagar Lake is one of the five striking lakes situated in Udaipur. Located about 13 kilometres to the east of Udaipur, the construction of this lake was started in 1559 by Maharana Udai Singh. The lake is actually a result of a dam being built on the river Berach to supply adequate water to the Maharana’s kingdom. Udai Sagar Lake is 4 kms in length, 2.5 kilometres in width and about 9 meters at its deepest.

Sajjangarh Biological Park

Located within parameters of city boundary, Sajjangarh wildlife park has different varieties of animals and birds which have been brought from different parts of world. At present, it houses 60 animals of 21 species including tigers, panthers, lions, ostriches, alligators, rhesus monkeys etc

Natural Resources of Udaipur:

The mining activity in the Udaipur is known since 14th century when the mining and smelting of lead and zinc was started in Zawar area.

The district is endowed with metallic as well as non metallic mineral wealth, the important are lead-zinc, copper, rock phosphate, soapstone, limestone, barytes, marble etc. In the field of gemstones, the district has shown potential for emerald. It is the leading producer of rock phosphate in the country. Among other minerals like lead-zinc, soapstone, green and pink marble, it has an important place. In the state, Udaipur district holds Ist position as far as the sale value of mineral production is concerned and is the IInd mineral revenue earning district.

Population:

According to the 2011 census, the total urban population of Udaipur district was 608,426. and the population density was 262/km2.