Udaipur also known as the "City of Lakes" is a city in the state of Rajasthan in India. It is the historic capital of the kingdom of Mewar in the former Rajputana Agency. It was founded in 1558 by 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. It remained as the capital city 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.
The city is located in the southernmost part of Rajasthan, near the Gujarat border. It is surrounded by the Aravali Range, which separates it from the Thar Desert. It is around 660 km from Delhi and approximately 800 km from Mumbai, placed almost in the middle of two major Indian metro cities. Besides, connectivity with Gujarat ports provide Udaipur a strategic geographical advantage. Udaipur is well connected with nearby cities and states by means of road, rail and air transportation facilities, including Maharana Pratap Airport. Common languages spoken include Hindi, English and Rajasthani (Mewari).
Dubbed "the most romantic spot on the continent of India" by British administrator James Tod, Udaipur is a tourist destination and is known for its history, culture, scenic locations and the Rajput-era palaces. It is popularly known as the "City of Lakes" because of its sophisticated lake system. It has seven lakes surrounding the city. Five of the major lakes, namely Fateh Sagar Lake, Lake Pichola, Swaroop Sagar Lake, Rangsagar and Doodh Talai Lake have been included under the restoration project of the National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP) of the Government of India. Besides lakes, Udaipur is also known for its historic forts and palaces, museums, galleries, natural locations and gardens, architectural temples, as well as traditional fairs, festivals and structures. The Udaipur economy is primarily driven by tourism, though minerals, marble processing, chemical manufacturing and development, electronic manufacturing and the handicraft industry are also contributors. Udaipur hosts several state and regional public offices, including offices of Director of Mines and Geology, Commissioner of Excise, Commissioner of Tribal Area Development, Hindustan Zinc Limited, and Rajasthan State Mines and Mineral Corporation Limited. Besides, Udaipur is rising as educational hub as well, with 5 Universities, 14 colleges and more than 160 high schools. Udaipur is home to IIM Udaipur, the fifth best management institution in the country according to NIRF ranking released by MHRD.
Culture and history info
The Ahar River bank was inhabited in about 2000 B.C. There are footprints of two different civilizations, which provides claims about earliest inhabitants of the Ahar culture: the first ones are the Bhil/Bheels, the indigenous tribes originated at this place, and are still residing in the area in large numbers. The second footprints were of Rajputs, who once entered the enclosed valley, and then continued to live in this place for centuries.
Udaipur was founded in 1559, 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 the 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, Maharana Mahendra Singh Mewar is the 76th custodian of the Mewar dynasty.