We started the day with a visit to the extensive and opulent City Palace complex which also houses a museum and a hotel.
The building has a couple of Sheesh Mahals with elaborate mirrors and coloured glasses on the ceiling, walls and even the floor (Thank God, it took my weight!). Another celebrated feature of the building is the grand Mor Chowk (Peacock Courtyard), with its walls covered with a dramatic glass mosaic relief of dancing peacocks.The Museum contains a wonderful collection of old Rajput weaponry including the suit of armour (along with his weapons it weighed a whopping 165 pounds!!!) worn by the most chivalrous of Rajputs, Maharana Pratap.
His equally famous horse, Chetak's battle armour has an unusual feature - a fake elephant trunk. This was designed so that in battle the enemy horses would mistake it for an elephant and get intimidated by it, while the enemy elephants would hesitate to attack a baby elephant.
From the City Palace, we visited the Jagdish Temple with its impressive archway and after lunch we saw Lake Fateh Sagar before taking a stroll at the Pratap Smarak. It's a lovely park on a hill with Maharana Pratap's imposing black statue on top and offers a lovely view. Next stop was the beautiful garden Saheliyon ki Bari with its lotus pools and delicate marble cupolas and fountains.
Sunset on Lake Pichhola
In the evening, we went to see the magnificient Lake Palace in the middle of Lake Pichhola. And what a breathtaking sight it was... the white-marbled Lake Palace seemed to float fairy-tale like in the waters of the lake.
Our guide asked us if we would like to take a leisurely boat-ride, and we jumped at the opportunity. It was an unforgettable experience and probably the most romantic evening of our lives. We cruised around, taking in the numerous ghaats (including the Gangaur Ghaat which witnesses frenzied activity during the Mewar Festival), the imposing City Palace and the city spread around the lake.
I was looking at the water turning a deep orange, when my wife tugged at my arm and whispered "Mike, just turn around verrrrry, verrrrry slowly." I did and was treated to the most glorious sunset that I had ever seen!!!
We had a candle-light dinner in the charming Lake Palace (now a luxury hotel) and then took the boat back to the city. Little wonder that the Lake City of Udaipur is fondly referred to as "Venice of the East".
Udaipur's labyrinthine streets have some fascinating bazaars and we browsed through them in the morning - Small shops selling the tie-and-dye fabrics which the city is famed for, particularly the leharia (wave-patterned) ones which are, perhaps naturally associated with this city of lakes. Other good buys include Udaipur's brightly coloured folk toys,pichwais, miniature paintings, ornamental swords, enamel jewellery and terracottas from the nearby village of Molela.
We had lunch at the Gallery restaurant and then went to Shilpgram, an interesting "living ethnographic museum" that gives a superb insight into rural Rajasthan. Spread out on a hillock, it has village huts of various regions furnished with traditional household items. One can also sit and watch how different craft items are made.
In the evening, we went to the Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandal Museum on folk object and pieces and enjoyed a cultural dance show there.
Full day excursion to see the heroic Chittaurgarh Fort
Full Day excursion to the temples of Nagda, Eklingji and Nathdwara
Half day excursion to witness the site of the bloody battle of Haldighati