General Information About Udaipur
Udaipur was founded in 1553, by Maharana [Udai Singh II] in the fertile circular Girwa Valley to the southwest of Nagda, on the Banas River. The city was established as the new capital of the Mewar kingdom. This area already had a thriving trading town, Ayad, which had served as capital of Mewar in the 10th through 12th centuries. The Girwa region was thus already well-known to Chittaud rulers who moved to it whenever the vulnerable tableland Chittaurgarh was threatened with enemy attacks. Maharana Udai Singh II, in the wake of 16th century emergence of artillery warfare, decided during his exile at Kumbhalgarh to move his capital to a more secure location. Ayad was flood-prone, hence he chose the ridge east of Pichola Lake to start his new capital city, where he came upon a hermit while hunting in the foothills of the Aravalli Range. The hermit blessed the king and guided him to build a palace on the spot, assuring him it would be well protected. Udai Singh II consequently established a residence on the site. 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. Being a mountainous region and unsuitable for heavily armoured Mughal horses, Udaipur remained safe from Mughal influence despite much pressure. At present, Arvind Singh Mewar is the 76th custodian of the Mewar dynasty.
Culture of Udaipur
Udaipur has received a rich cultural heritage from the bygone ages. The lakes, temples, huge forts and palaces boast about the rich legacy of this city. The city has kept a balance between preserving the rituals and traditions of the past while keeping up with the modern advancements and changes in lifestyle. Like any other place in the state of Rajasthan, folk dance and music have an important place in adding to the city's cultural richness. 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. Following a lineage of age old traditions and adhering to religious significance, the various dances complement the fairs and festivals held in the city. The city's music consists mainly of the use of Morchang, Naad, Tanpura, and Sarangi, among many other instruments, that used to echo in the courts of the erstwhile rulers of the state.
Miniature paintings are amongst the most famous paintings developed under the patronage of the rulers of Rajasthan. The simplest among these are done on walls, and though folk in style, they nevertheless have some of the flavour of frescoes one sees in the old palaces. The tradition of painting the wall of houses with scenes from mythological and chivalric tales has been prevalent in Rajasthan for the past many centuries. The people of the city make use of such wall paintings for decorations during wedding celebrations. Noted amongst the miniature style of paintings are particularly the Pichvais, which are those made on cloth, and Phad, made on cloth scroll in folk style.
The Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal is a cultural institution based in the city. The institute with its museum is a platform which displays a collection of Rajasthani culture. Offering an insight into the lifestyle of the royal era in Udaipur, the museum has a fine collection of dresses, tribal jewellery, turbans, dolls, masks, musical instruments, paintings and puppets. With various cultural events including folk song and dance performances, theatre and puppetry, the institute highlights the different social stigmas, thereby proving to be a powerful education tool for the masses.
Udaipur, the city of lakes, is home to some beautiful architectural marvels. Sightseeing trips to the striking palaces, gorgeous gardens and colossal forts will take up most of your daytime. Most tourists retire to their hotels for a quiet night, not realising that the city has a bustling nightlife too. Udaipur is transformed into a beautiful city of lights at night. The lit up palaces on hillocks illuminate the lake with divine light giving the city a heavenly feel. Below are some interesting things to do in Udaipur at night:Scour the streets
The streets of Udaipur come alive after dusk with shoppers. You can pick up interesting souvenirs, jewellery, shoes etc along with more ethnic artefacts of Rajasthan. You may also try your hand at traditional roadside food or desserts.Dine at a Rooftop Restaurant
There are plenty of rooftop restaurants in Udaipur offering views of the lakes or palaces. Sip your wine and indulge in the local cuisine over candlelight and conversation. Some restaurants even have cultural shows for the guests.Sound and Light Show
A stupendous show held in the City Palace, narrating the history of Mewar using light and sound effects. The show in English is held between 7 pm to 8 pm and the Hindi show between 8 pm to 9 pm. The show is divided into 12 episodes, and the narrative traces 15 centuries of history.Meera Kala Mandir
An important cultural institute, the Meera Kala Mandir organises a number of dance and music performances with an aim to keep alive the cultural heritage of the city. A must visit for those wishing to get a taste of traditional Rajasthani culture.Sound and Light Show- Moti Magri
Held in the beautiful environs of the Rock Garden near the Pratap Smarak, this sound and light show showcases the thousand odd years of rule of Mewar and the tales of courage and honour.