Hills, gardens, temples, bathing ghats (Chabootars), Haveli – Lake Pichola means ‘backyard’ is an artificial freshwater lake in Udaipur. Largest and oldest, it is located in the heart of Udaipur city of Rajasthan state. The beauty of the lake, beautiful images of monuments on the water, and lush green surroundings make this place worth seeing.
Surrounded by the Aravalli hills, Pichola Lake is about 4 km long, 3 km wide and the maximum depth is increased during heavy rain, but it becomes dry during severe drought. Rainwater is the main source to fill these lakes and when there is more water in the lake, it attracts many Indian and foreign tourists.
Named after the nearby Picholi village, two islands are locally known as Jag Niwas and Jag Mandir, which are situated within Lake Pichola. On its banks are the Oberoi Udai Vilas, Leela Palace Kempinski, two heritage hotels – Shiv Niwas and Fateh Prakash – and the City Palace Museum.
Legends say that it was built during the reign of Maharana Lakshaja by Banjara tribe at the beginning of the 15th century, Pichu Banjara who built a bridge over it because their bulks could not cross the stream of the lake. Later it was extended by Maharaja Uday Singh and built a stone masonry dam, which is called ‘Big Pole’. For decades, the lake and surroundings have been developed and it has become a major tourist attraction.
Jag Residence Island is completely covered with lake palace, 250-year-old white marble, and mosaic summer palace. One of the most romantic places in the world, it is a beautiful palace located in the middle of Lake Pichola. The palace is now a five-star heritage hotel under Taj Group’s hotels, which has beautiful gardens and pavilions. It starts emerging from the clean blue water, it is the most photographed hotel in India. The palace was built in 1740 as the Maharaja Jagat Singh in his summer house. There is a beautiful restaurant in its courtyard that offers spectacular views. Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace), Krishna Vilas (residence of Lord Krishna), Chinese Chitrashala (Chinese Art Gallery), More Chowk (More Court) and Amar Vilas (The Earl Abode) are the main attractions of this palace.
A small father built by Maharaja Karan Singh is the South Jag Mandir. This Gul pal is remarkable for a domed pavilion which was built by Maharana Jagat Singh (1628-52). Although the Jag Mandir was constructed by Maharana Karan Singh, the name has been taken from Maharana Jagat Singh, who has added many to it. He created a Zenana or women section in the castle. It has also gained historical significance in the film ‘Octopus’ as a star spot when Rajkumar Khurram (later Shahjahan) was in the rebellion against his urban Mughal emperor Jahangir, then he was giving shelter. During the revolt of 1857, Maharana Swaroop Singh gave shelter to European families in this palace.
This is a three-story building, made of yellow sandstone dedicated to the God of the universe. Its interior lining is made of marble. The interior is decorated with colored stones and currently claims some excellent Mughal paintings in it. In the courtyard center, there is a specially carved umbrella of gray-green granite. The island is well maintained, with fountains and a line of elephants that look like the island’s defense.
It is also said that behind the Taj Mahal of Shah Jahan, Jagannand was the inspiration. He raised many ideas of Pita Dura work, especially from Jag Mandir Mahal. Now the island has hosted many grand programs during the decades including weddings and royal parties.
Apart from these two big islands, there are many other smaller islands. On the west bank of the lake, just behind Jag habitation, Arsei Vilas is the island where the Sagar Lake is connected to Pichola Lake with a cut bridge made by Maharana Swaroop Singh. Bird Sanctuary and Sitamata Game Sanctuary attract a large number of tourists here. Built by Maharana Arisi Singh to see the sunset in the middle of the Jhar, there is a lower platform behind it, which meets the purpose of the helipad when necessary.
In the southern part of the lake, a hill is known as Horra Magra, where one can see Ekalgarh Garh Fort. One of the eastern shores of the lake can see the City Palace of Udaipur, the largest palace complex in the city. On the northern side of the lake, there is a formal ghat where the Gangaur festival is celebrated. An expression of Goddess Parvati dedicated to Gauri; Lord Shiva’s wife, it is celebrated on the first day of tea, on the day after Holi and lasts for 18 days.
In addition to the Jag Mandir and Jag habitation, there is also Mohan Mandir and Nutiani Chabutra. Mohan Temple was built by Jagat Singh between 1684 and 1652. Although it looks like a temple, it is not a god. It was made in memory of Maharana Jagat Singh, one of the informal sons of Mohandas. It is currently owned by the state government and used for demonstration of fireworks during Ganjur or Mewar festivals.
An uplifted platform on the patio made in memory of Natani Chattra, a Natani (criterion walker). There is a story behind it. Maharana Jawan Singh presented half of the Mewar Kingdom in a criterion walker if he crossed the lake to a city palace on the eastern bank from a village in West Bank. But he was cheated because the rope was cut and he drowned in the lake. Before he drowned, he cursed the Maharana family that there would be no direct heir to them. That curse proved true.
The most beautiful of sunrise and sunset, anyone can sit and enjoy this beautiful lake on Lal Ghat, Gangaur Ghat, and Hanuman Ghat. It also offers excellent opportunities for the boat ride. Tourists are usually hoisted in boats in their assigned hotels. Anybody can take the boat from City Palace Jetties on Bansi Ghat.
The favorite place for moviemakers is located just 3 km from Lake Pichola Bus Station and Railway Station and 25 km from the airport. Can reach a lake with auto-rickshaw, Tonga, taxi or local buses.