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PLACES TO VISIT AROUND UDAIPUR

RANAKPUR : Renowned for some marvelously carved Jain temples in amber stones, Ranakpur is one of the five holy places of the Jain community. These temples were created in the 15th century A.D. during the reign of Rana Kumbha and are enclosed within a wall. The central 'Chaumukha' or four faced temple is dedicated to the venerated Tirthankara Rishabhji. Open on all four sides, it enshrines the four faced image of Adinath. Sprawling over 48,000 sq.feet, the temple is an astounding creation with 29 halls and 1,444 pillars - all distinctly carved.

Images of 24 tirthankars are carved on the 'Mandaps' or porticoes in a corridor around the shrine with each mandap having a 'Shikhar' or spire adorned with little bells on the top. The gentle breeze wafting through the corridors move the bells creating celestial music all around the complex. Rising in three stories, the temple has four small shrines with 80 spires supported by 420 columns.
Two temples, dedicated to the Jain saints - Parsvanath and Neminath, face the main temple. The temples have beautiful carvings similar to that of Khajuraho. Another temple worth visiting is the nearby Sun Temple, an 8th century A.D. temple dedicated to the Sun god. The temple has polygonal walls, richly embellished with carvings of warriors, horses and solar detties riding splendid chariots.

More pictures - Image I, Image II

KUMBHALGARH : Cradled in the cluster of thirteen mountain peaks of the Aravali ranges, the formidable medieval citadel - Kumbhalgarh stands a wary sentinel to the past glory. Rising from a prominent ridge, 1914 meters high from the sea level, the fort was built in 15th century A.D. by Maharana Kumbha and is the principal fortification after Chittaurgarh, lying 90 Km north-west of Udaipur. 
The massive fort, encompassed by a 36 Km long wall, has seven majestic gates and seven ramparts, one within the other. Rounded bastions and soaring watch towers strengthen the crenellated walls of the fort making it an impregnable structure.

Fascinating chambers are built on the western side of the last gate - the 'Nimboo Pol'. According to history, the infant Udai Singh was smuggled from Bundi and hidden in these chambers by his faithful maid Panna Dai to save him from the murderous intensions of his Uncles who desired the throne. 
Udai Singh ascended the throne of Mewar with Kumbhalgarh as his residence and later established Udaipur - the beautiful lake city.
Within the fort are many magnificent palaces and an array of ruined temples. The most picturesque of the palaces is the 'Badal Mahal' or the palace of the cloud. The palace has got its name for being the highest of all the structures. It offers a superb bird's eye view of the countryside surrounding the fort as well as of other ruins within the fort.
The ancient ruins of the temples within the fort date back to the Mauryan period built during the reign of the grandson of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka who belonged to the Jain community.
Most of the ruins in Kumbhalgarh are of the Jain temples of various periods. As one moves to east, Kali Temple and the Mamadev Kund with royal Chhatris can be seen. Another noteworthy temple, a little further, enshrines a fine black marble lingam.
The mandap or the hall of the temple has beautiful pillars, finely fluted and having a tapering shape.

More pictures - Image I, Image II, Image III, Image IV

HALDIGHATI : When Rana Pratap refused to show subservience, Akbar decided to chastise him and sent a big army, under Man Singh of Amer, for the purpose. On the 31st of May, 1576, the two armies - 'which were friendly to war and inmicial to life and which treated life as cheap and honour dear' - took positions in Haldighati, ' the turmeric - coloured vale', near Khamnor. The initial assault of the Mewaris rattled up the imperial forces but were then routed. Pratap was saved by Shakti Singh, his estranged brother, but Pratap's famous steed, Chetak, succumbed to his injuries.
Haldighati is now very much on the tourist map and can be covered in a round trip covering Nagda, Eklingji, Delwara, Nathdwara, Rajsamand and Molela.

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KANKROLI AND RAJSAMAND : Nathdwara is 48 kms to the north of Udaipur. A few kilometers further on, are located the twin towns of Kankroli and Rajsamand, the latter now the headquarters of a District. As with the Shrinathji at Nathdwara, the idol of Dwarkadheeshji was installed in a new temple at Kankroli. Both the towns nestle by the beautiful lake of Rajsamand which was got built by Maharana Raj Singh, perhaps, as a famine - relief work, during 1662 -76, with a work force of 60,000 and at a cost of Rs. 1.05 crore. The lake, now measures 1.5 miles, by 2.75 miles and has a catchment area of about 195 sq.miles. The chief glory of the lake lies in the elaborate main dam called "Nauchowki" (nine pavilions) after the nine cupolas - inspired, perhaps, by the flat-roofed marble 'baradaris' built by Shahjehan on the dam of the Anasagar Lake at Ajmer - which adorn it. The art and architecture shows combined Hindu and Islamic traits and the sculpted images and tableaus shed interesting light on the contemporary mores. Also notable is the 'Rajaprashasti' (royal eulogy) engraved on 25 niched slabs - said to be India's biggest enterprise of this type.

More Pictures - Image I, Image II

RISHABHDEO : From Chawand, if one so wishes, one can carry on via Parsad, to the temple - town of Rikhabhdeo. The typical offering is that of saffron so much so that the idol has been nicknamed Keshariyaji. Although a Jain shrine, the Hindus also revere it and Bhils, in particular, used to swear by the saffron offered at Kesariyaji. It is a typical, sprawling complex abuzz with activity and the nucleus for a large fair every year.

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CHITTORGARH (CHITTOR) : The pride and glory of Rajasthan, Chittor echoes with the tales of romance and valor unique to the Rajput Tradition. A ruined citadel, where the royal past lives in its imposing forts, graceful palaces and spectacular chhatris. 
This fortified settlement has been ravaged thrice and each time the outcome was 'Jauhar' - when women and children immolated themselves on a huge funeral pyre while men donned in saffron robes of martyrdom rode out of the fort towards a certain death.
Alauddin Khilji was the first to sack Chittor in 1303 A.D., overpowered by a passionate desire to possess the regal beauty, queen Padmini. Legend has it, that he saw her face in the reflection of a mirror and was struck by her mesmerising beauty. But the noble queen preferred death to dishonour and committed 'Jauhar'.
In 1533 A.D. during the rule of Bikramjeet, came the second attack from Bahadur Shah, the Sultan of Gujrat. Once again Jauhar was led by Rani Karnavati, a Bundi princess. Her infant son, Udai Singh fled to establish a new capital, Udaipur - a beautiful lake city, leaving behind Chittor to be defended by two 16 year old heroes, Jaimal of Badnore and Patta of Kelwa. These young men displayed true Rajput chivalry and died after 'Jauhar' was performed. Immediately thereafter Akbar razed the fort to a rubble.
Chittor was never inhabited again but it always asserted the heroic spirit of Rajput warriors.

Places of visit in Chittorgarh :

1. The Fort 2. Vijay Stambh ( Victory Tower )
3. Kirti Stambh (Tower of Fame) 4. Rana Kumbha's Palace
5. Padmini's Palace 6. Kalika Mata Temple
7. Government Museum 8. Meera Bai Temple
9. Menal (90 Km) 10.Sanwariya ji Temple (40 Km)

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NAGDA & EKLINGJI : Nagda (anc. Naaghrida) was the old capital of Mewar. The chief relic, now extinct consists of the twin 'Saas - Bahu' temple of the 10th century. Spartan sanctums are here, wedded to sumptuous Mandaps, that of the bigger temple being more so. This latter in a closed one, richly carved both inside and outside, as compared to the open one in the other case. The group faces a large tank, the route to which is marked by a handsome torana or ceremonial gate.

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The princes of Mewar considered themselves as ruling on behalf of Eklingji (Mahadeva) enshrined in an imposing temple in the neighboring Kailashpuri. Despite the recent glitz, the palace has an atmosphere. The complex has many other temples, including the very austere Lakulish of the 10th century with an imposing black statue of the defied Shaivite preacher of 2nd century A.D.

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NATHDWARA : When Auranagzeb embarked on a policy of wholesale destruction of Hindu temples, the custodians of the idol of Shrinathji of Govardhan, near Mathura, left that place with the idol in search of a new haven. While several other princes were diffident, it was Maharana Rajsingh of Mewar who dared to provide refuge. In 1672 Shrinathji was installed in a new temple built in village Sihad, now called Nathdwara, on the banks of the Banas. Ever since, Nathdwara is a place of great sanctity for the Vaishnavas of Pushtimargi or Vallabha sect. Among other things, Nathdwara is known for its Pichhwais (large painting on cloth depicting legends from the life of Lord Krishna) and Haveli music (devotional music, akin to Dhrupad - singing, with compositions meant for various seasons, festivals and sections of the day).

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JAISAMAND LAKE : A stunningly situated artificial lake, built in the 17th century A.D. by Maharana Jai Singh is the second largest in Asia. Maharana Jai Singh at the time of foundation celebrated the occasion by giving away gold in charity after a Tuladaan ceremony. In the lake there are three islands whose inhabitants use Bhels (boats) to reach the shore. On the top of two nearby hillocks are two old palaces constructed by Maharana Jai Singh. A very fine view of the lake is available from these palaces. Graceful marble chhatris flank the embankment and beautiful summer palaces of the Udaipur queens. Jaisamand Island Resort is also worth visiting.

A trip to Jaisamand Wildlife Sanctuary allows a close encounter with the rich wildlife in their natural habitat. The fauna includes panther, wild boar, deer, four-horned antelope, mongoose and various species of migratory birds.

More Pictures - Image I, Image II, Image III

CHAWAND : From Jaisamand, one can go on to Chawand. After the reverse suffered at Haldighati, Maharana Pratap took to the jungles and a guerilla mode of warfare. It was during this phase that Pratap acquired Chawand and made it his capital in 1585. It has been noted that the architecture at Chawand reflects a spartan defence - consciousness. It is said that Pratap was cremated here in 1597 A.D. in the nearby village Bandoli, on the banks of a small stream. Chawand continued to be the capital city till 1615. Besides, it was a major early centre of the Mewar school of painting.

Today, Chawand is known for the memorial erected for the nobble Pratap.

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