Musician at Lake Pichola in Udaipur

Venice of the East

The sun is high in the sky. A cool breeze blows in my face. I have to squint my eyes. The reflections of the lake dazzle me. Small waves move slowly through the water. They look like silk blowing in the wind. The water glistens, when waves break. In the distance, I see the outline of rolling hills. Once, the rulers of Mewar looked out from their city palace to this lake. The Pichhola Lake did not originate however naturally. Tribesmen of the Banjara had started to dam water and create an artificial water reservoir in 1362 AD. The lake got its name after the nearby village Pichholi. Maharana (meaning “king of kings” in Hindi) Udai Singh is said to have been so impressed by the landscape that he founded Udaipur at the lakes shore around 1559 and made it the new capital of the Mewar kingdom. The location on the lake and the hilly landscape was an excellent barrier to armed conflicts. Namely, Udai Singh did not voluntarily found a new capital at this place. Mughal emperor Akbar I besieged the former capital of the Mewar kingdom, Chittorgarh, and finally conquered it in 1568. The shift to this lake also had strategic reasons for Maharana Udai Singh. Since then, more lakes have been dammed up. Some of these are interconnected. A popular photo opportunity is a small arch bridge, built by Maharana Swaroop Singh (1842-1861). It leads across the water vein connecting Lake Pichhola with Saroop Sagar Lake. With India’s independence from British colonial rule in 1947, the Mewar Empire was incorporated into the state of Rajasthan. Until 1956, the Maharana of Mewar ruled from the City Palace in Udaipurs. Nowadays, part of the City Palace is a museum. Another part is used as a hotel. The Lake Palace is one of the best hotels in India and one of the most popular attractions in Udaipur. The Lake Palace is located in Lake Pichhola. It was once the summer residence of Maharana Jagat Singh II. Movies like “The Tiger of Eschnapur” (1959) or “James Bond 007 – Octopussy” (1983) increased the popularity of the Lake Palace and Udaipur even more. Due to its location, Udaipur offers a fresh breeze and relaxation in the otherwise hot desert climate. The city, like Jaipur, is known for its jewelery and jewelry. In the small lanes off the beaten path you will find countless small shops that make chains, pendants and other jewelry by hand. Despite low season, the prices in the restaurants, hotels and shops are high, so we move on relatively quickly. I would like to have explored this place longer. Unfortunately, the European coffee culture is unknown here. It is not uncommon to get the bill when you order nothing more, but in Udaipur the guest is immediately asked to leave to clear the table for new customers, even if there are enough seats available. How sad. No place to stay and indulge in leisure. I really miss spending hours in a café and chatting with friends – with just one coffee!