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UDAIPUR: 10 History Moments Caught in the City of Lakes

ZUZANA ZWIEBEL

ZUZANA HAS A SPECIAL NET FOR CATCHING MOMENTS, WHICH CHANGED THE CURRENT OF THE HISTORICAL EVENTS. IN THE “CITY OF LAKES”, SHE LITERALLY FOUND MANY FISH IN THE WATER!

Udaipur is called “City of Lakes” and is considered one of the most romantic cities in India. Seven lakes are surrounded by Aravali Range, which separates city from Thar Desert and all other elements such as  temples, havelis and countless narrow, crooked, timeless streets together with history of majestic palaces add the drama to the story of the city. 

MAHARANA UDAI SINGH II MEETS HERMIT

Udaipur was founded in 1559 by Maharana Udai Singh II of the Sisodia clan of Rajput, when he shifted his capital from the city of Chittorgarh to Udaipur after Chittorgarh was besieged by Akbar. The 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 guided him to build a palace on the spot, assuring him it would be well protected. The city was established as the new capital of the Mewar Kingdom. It remained as its capital till 1818 when it became a British princely state, and thereafter the Mewar province became a part of Rajasthan when India gained independence in 1947.  

NURSEMAID PANNA DAI SAVES MAHARANA UDAI SINGH II. LIFE 

Before the city of Udaipur was established, the destiny had different plan for Maharana Udai Sing II, he was almost killed by his uncle Bhanvir, if his nursemaid Panna Dai would not sacrified her own so. Panna Dai was breastfeeding Udai Sing II from his birth in 1522, along with her own son Chandan, who was of similar age and Udai's playmate. When Udai Singh was attacked by his uncle, Panna Dai sacrificed the life of her own son Chandan in order to save the life of Udai Singh. She did not ask for anything in return either. To honor her act,  “The Panna Dhai Award”  is a national award given to people who venture beyond the call of duty. 

THE JAGDISH TEMPLE 

The temple is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, the preserver of the Universe and it was built by Maharana Jagat Singh, who ruled Udaipur during 1628-1653. This three-storied temple is a wonder of architecture that comprises beautifully carved pillars, decorated ceilings, painted walls and lush halls. The spire of the main temple is around 79 feet high that undoubtedly dominates the skyline of Udaipur. This shikhar (spire) is festooned with sculptures of dancers, elephants, horsemen and musicians making it truly a sight to behold. To reach the main shrine, you have to take a marble flight of 32 steps. Here, you will find a brass image of Garuda, a figure of half-man and half-eagle. This huge idol stands as if, it is guarding the doorway of Lord Vishnu. 

JAGANNATH - THE LORD OF THE UNIVERSE

According to one of the legends, the king Indradyumna, appointed Vishwakarma, the architect of gods, to carve the murti of the deity from Krisha’s bones. Vishwakarma accepted the commission on the condition that he could complete the work undisturbed and in private. Everyone was anxious about the divine work. After a fortnight of waiting, the king could not control his eagerness, and he visited the site. Vishwakarma was very upset and he left the carving of the idol unfinished. The images were without hands and feet. The king was very perturbed by this development and appealed to Brahma to help him. Brahma promised the king that the images which were carved would be deified as carved and would become famous.

TOUCH WHICH CAN CURE ALL THE DISEASES 

Humans symbolically consider feet to be less pure or of less value than head. That's why King's crown, which rested on head, was highly respected and any disrespect to crown would mean disrespect to the kingdom. On the other hand, falling to someone's feet would be considered as submission. That is why, kings used to wash the feet of the saints and touch the legs of the deities. When you visit The Jagdish Temple, do touch the legs of the Lord Jagannath, situated on the left side of the temple. It is signed of great respect and there is a belief, that the touch will cure all the diseases.

CITY PALACE WITH 007 FAME

Udaipur City Palace complex was built over a period of nearly 400 years, with contributions from several rulers of the Mewar dynasty. Its construction began in 1553, started by Maharana Udai Singh II. It was built atop a hill with panoramic view of the city and its surroundings. Overlooking Lake Pichola, and several historic monuments like the Lake Palace, Jag Mandir, Jagdish Temple or Monsoon Palace. Looks familiar? You might see it in the James Bond movie Octopussy.

NATINI’S CURSE

At the time of Maharana Jawan Singh’s reign (1828-38), the Maharana promised half kingdom to Natini the tight-ropewalker if she was able to cross the Pichola Lake walking on the rope. When the king saw that it was certain for her to cross the lake, he tricked her and cut-off the rope, she fell in the lake and died of drowning, the curse tale states that before she could take her last breath, she cursed the Mewar Kingdom resulting to, no direct descendants to the throne.

JAG MANDIR - INSPIRATION FOR TAJ MAHAL

Jag Mandir, known as the "Lake Garden Palace", built on an island in the Lake Pichola, was constructed by three Maharanas of the Mewar Kingdom. The construction started in 1551 and was completed by 1652. In 1623 Emperor Shahjahn, before his reign of the Mughal dynasty, revolted against his father Emperor Jahangir as he wished to gain the crown of the Mughal Kingdom. Shahjahn turned towards his friend Maharana Karan Singh for help and he kept him along with his wife and children safe in the Jag Mandir Palace, which was known as Gul Mahal at the time. It is said that Shahjain got inspired by the structure of Gul Mahal and built Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

LAKE PICHOLA ESTABLISHED BY GYPSY & DEVELOPED BY KING

Lake Pichola was built in 1362 by a gypsy Banjara tribesman who transported grain, during the reign of Maharana Lakha. Later, Maharana Udai Singh II, impressed by the charm of this lake with the backdrop of green hills, founded the city of Udaipur on the banks of the lake and also enlarged the lake by constructing a stone masonry dam. The lake's surroundings and the several islands within the lake have been developed over the centuries, with palaces, marble temples, family mansions and bathing ghats. 

THE NIGHTS OF SISODIAS

Sisodias, like many other Rajput clans, claim origin from the legendary Suryavansha or Solar Dynasty. According to the Sisodia chronicles, when the Delhi Sultan Alauddin Khalji attacked Chittorgarh in 1303, the Sisodia men performed saka (fighting to death), while their women committed jauhar (self-immolation in preference to becoming enemy captives). This was repeated twice: when Bahadur Shah of Gujarat besieged Chittorgarh in 1535, and when the Mughal emperor Akbar conquered it in 1567. Only after the capital of Mewar Kingdm was shifted to Udaipur. 

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WRITER, EDITOR & PHOTOGRAPHER

ZUZANA ZWIEBEL

Founder & Director of Ayurveda Trails, healing collection of (extra)ordinary people and their stories, whose experiences are transferred into various trails shared by travelers.

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