Udaipur is one of the most beautiful cities in Rajasthan, and a fascinating destination for those interested in art and history. If you would like to explore this further on your holiday to India, there are splendid palaces that stand proud in Lake Pichola such as the Lake Palace Hotel and the Jag Mandir (or the Lake Garden Palace). One cannot beat staying at the resplendent Lake Palace Hotel which was originally built by the King’s son, Maharana Jagat Singh in 1743 and called Jag Niwas. The feeling evokes the period of the Raj.
One is ferried by boat from the shores of Lake Pichola to the palace itself. It exudes a feeling of history and grandeur, both inextricably linked. The best rooms without a doubt are the suites which look out across the lake. Inside, there are several ante-rooms, encouraging a tête-à-tête over tea, looking across to the majestic City Palace itself.
Then there is the beautiful Oberoi Udai Vilas which is a new building which is built in the style of a palace and again, it affords magnificent views across the lake. For those wanting to get out into the countryside, then the two perfect choices are RAAS Devigarh and Bujera Fort.
RAAS Devigarh is another palace which has been furnished in a modern and minimalist style, and in fact was a former Fortress originally built in 1760. Bujera Fort is owned by interior decorator Richard Hanlon and his partner and, although contemporary, has been stunningly created with the finest of fabrics, style and décor.
The Lake itself is quite breathtakingly beautiful – and best seen at sunset from a private boat when the palaces can be seen reflecting in the water. Visit the Jag Mandir Palace and walk around the botanical gardens. This was used by the Royal Family as a summer resort as well as for staging wonderful parties. It was also the inspiration for the Taj Mahal.
one can spend time with the most incredible guides in Udaipur, who are the most experienced and extremely knowledgeable on both history and art, and can open this all up to you.
The city itself is alive, with the most fabulous markets, showcasing displays of aromatic, brightly coloured spices, delicious pastries and an assortment of other delicacies. The fresh vegetables and fruit are beautifully presented – akin to what might find at a market in Italy.
Visit the museum which houses vintage cars owned by the king, (including magnificent old carriages), and without doubt, visit the magnificent City Palace. The Palace took over 400 years to complete; the construction began in 1553. The Palace is built atop a hill on the east bank of Lake Pichola. Built in a flamboyant style, it is a fusion of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture and is surrounded by the Aravalli mountains.
Udaipur is renowned for its eclectic, quality textiles – from carpets, to bed linen, fabrics and antique art. Much of Rajasthan is best known for its miniature art, which is simply exquisite. Whilst it is not inexpensive, one can certainly appreciate the amount of work that goes into this incredibly fine style of painting. Artists can be found along many of the alleyways in the city of Udaipur.
In Jaipur and the surrounding area, one can spend time with an art historian who can introduce those with a deeper interest to the intricacies of Rajasthani art. This art style goes back to the first half of the sixteenth century and is incredibly intricate. Gold is used in several of the paintings.
Many of these paintings reflect and document Royal events, hosted by the Mughal kings and typify the opulent life lived by the Maharajahs. Influences of the Mughal Kings coalesce with those of the Rajput Kings. Fine brushes are used to apply the organically synthesised pigments and the colours emanate from natural resources, such as exotic plants.
Spend some time with one of the finest teachers of miniature art today. This art form takes an incredibly long period of time to master, and therefore is often uneconomically viable for the artist, hence the value. There are very many art galleries in Udaipur, offering traditional miniature art to contemporary art.
For the budding artist why not try your hand at miniature art at one of the art schools? One can do this for an afternoon, and for anyone who has an interest in art, it is a worthwhile experience!