Watermarked by whimsy and splendour, the Venice of the East holds stage as one of India's truly seductive cities. Udaipur is an international destination unto itself, with splendid Lake Pichola lapping against shimmering white buildings, and the Aravalli hills closing in to savour the view.
The centrepiece of the city is the floating Lake Palace – brash enough for a Bond film (parts of Octopussy were filmed here), yet refined enough for his majesty’s pleasure. Packed with princeliness and passion, Udaipur is raw Rajput dreaming, with palaces, havelis and temples at every turn.
Formerly known as Mewar, Udaipur was founded in 1559 when Maharaja Udai Singh II took flight from the final sacking of Chittor by the Mughal emperor Akbar. As Udai Singh and his contemporaries resisted Muslim might, the city grew a reputation for patriotic fervour and an aching love of independence.
Udaipur was founded in 1559 by Maharana Udai Singh II as the final capital of the erstwhile Mewar kingdom, located to the southwest of Nagda, on the Banas River, the first capital of the Mewar kingdom. Legend has it that Maharana Udai Singh II came upon a hermit while hunting in the foothills of the Aravalli Range. The hermit blessed the king and asked 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 1568 the Mughal emperor Akbar captured the fort of Chittor, and Udai Singh moved the capital to the site of his residence, which became the city of Udaipur.
As the Mughal empire weakened, the Sisodia ranas, and later maharanas (also called the Guhilots or Suryavansh), who had always tried to oppose Mughal dominance, 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 unmolested from Mughal influence in spite of much pressure.