I have always wanted to write a travel blog. In fact, I started blogging to write on travels. Incidentally, over the years, I have become lazy enough to procrastinate writing about travels.
This travel article is on the Mewar Circuit – Essentially Udaipur, Chittaurgarh, Kumbalgarh, Ranakpur, Mount Abu, Haldighati, Eklanji and Nagda. The trip is a 6 days/5 nights one and trust me – Mewar Circuit is a must visit. The best time to visit this place is around November since Rajasthan is quite cool and Mt. Abu is at its best at 2 degrees Celsius. This travel article is almost 18 months old now – recreated from my diary.
Day 1 : Enter Udaipur
The highlight of this trip is Udaipur – The City of Lakes. If you judge Rajasthan by Jaipur and Jaisalmer, you are probably wrong. Udaipur is one scenic city with many artificial lakes making it a summer retreat for those in Rajasthan. It is often referred to as the “Venice of the East. No wonder it hosts many of the popular weddings worldwide. I reached Udaipur at 2 PM. With little time left for the day, one can visit the City Palace complex, the Lake Palace and the nearby Jagdish Mandir. Other important places include Dood Ki Talaai, Lake Pichola, Fateh Sagar Lake (near the City Palace) and Golab Bagh (meaning “Rose Garden”- you cannot compare it with the Lalbagh gardens but considering Rajasthan’s landscape, you can visit the gardens when you find time). When in Udaipur, do not miss the boating in Lake Pichola (best time for boating is morning – the reflection of the palace in the lake is one thing you must never miss in this trip). You can spend the evenings shopping in handicraft shops and local markets. Of course you need one full day for Udaipur (Note that I spent another morning boating, ropeway ride for Neemach Mata temple etc). Night stay at Udaipur.
View of City Palace and golden waters of Lake Pichola, Udaipur
Day 2 : Chittaurgarh (a.k.a Chittorgarh)and Nathdwara
Chittaurgarh is a 2 hr drive from Udaipur. Incidentally Chittaurgarh is Asia’s 2nd largest fort (14 km length). There are plenty of places to visit inside the Chittaurgarh fort including Rani Padmini Jauhar, Meera Mandir (according to the folklore, poison which was offered to Meera Bai – a worshipper of Lord Krishna turned into nectar here ), Adinath Temple, Vijay Stambh (or Victory Tower which has 7 floors), Rani Padmini Palace and Mrig Van (Deer sanctuary towards the end of the fort), Kali Mata Mandir and Kirti Stambh/Jain Temple. All these places are inside the Chittaurgarh complex. The complex also has a Gaumukh reservoir.
The Chittaugarh complex can be covered by afternoon. I was enroute to Nathdwara by 3 PM. Nathdwara has the idol of 7 yr old Krishna and is often referred to as Srinathji. The water for purification in the temple comes all the way from Mathura as the idol belongs to Mathura. Nathdwara reminded me of Mathura – the birthplace of Lord Krishna. The temple can be covered within an evening. Night stay at Nathdwara.
Day 3 : Kumbhalgarh & Ranakpur
Kumbhalgarh is a place where you will realise why India is Incredible when you visit it. One of the almost inaccessible places in those times, Kumbhalgarh was the secret base for Chittaurgarh. It is named after Rana Kumbha. This is also the birthplace of Maharana Pratap. The fort is 36 KM long and it has the 2nd largest wall in Asia, yes – that’s right after The Great Wall of China. It is said that Kumbhalgarh, the base camp was used to warfare through the mountain ranges – as there were no airplanes way back then – no one could locate the Kumbhalgarh fort amidst the mountain ranges. The fort is just spectacular – you really can’t describe it in words but that’s one place you must really visit.
After leaving Kumbhalgarh around 3, I reached Ranakpur in the evening. Ranakpur is one of the holiest places for the Jains and it is known for its spectacular Jain temple. The Main Temple has 1444 pillars including a stambha named after Rana Kumbha. The stambha fell many times during its construction and is 15 feet high. It is believed to be a sign of good luck for the people who visit there. The jain temple has 4 idols which are exactly the same in all the 4 directions, so that anyone could see it, from anywhere. The temple has 1 pillar which is slanting and is lit by traditional lamps. Night stay at Ranakpur.
Ram Pol (Ram Gate) at the Kumbhalgarh Fort
Day 4 & 5 : Mount Abu & Haldighati
Mount Abu is the only hill station in Rajasthan. Well known for its intricate carvings in the Dilwara temples, Mount Abu is located along the Arbuda Hills of the Aravalli Range. The places to visit in Mount Abu are Sunset Point, Arbuda Devi Temple, Honeymoon Point, Ganesh Temple and Dilwara Temple Complex (consisting of 4 temples). Guru Shikhar is the highest point in Mount Abu and Dattatreya Temple is located on top of it. The feet of the Dattatreya Idol (along with a bell) is top of Guru Shikar making it the highest place in Mount Abu. Boating can be done at the Nakki Lake which is an artificial lake. You can find a lot of tourists from Ahmedabad here as it is a weekend trip from Ahmedabad. Night Stay at Mount Abu.
Haldighati is the place where the famous battle between Maharana Pratap and Man Singh (and Akbar’s forces) was fought. Haldighati is called so as the rock contain a colored liquid which looks like haldi. Maharana Pratap lost the battle but escaped due to his swift white Arab horse – Chetak. Haldighati has Chetak Samadhi – which died in the arms of Maharana Pratap. Maharana Pratap ruled only for 4 years and spent the life in the forest. As I travelled through the mountainous paths in Haldighati, I was constantly reminded of the famous doha (couplet) :
Aage Nadiya Padi Apaar, Ghoda Kaise Utare Paar
Rana Ne Socha Is Paar, Tab Tak Chetak Tha Us Paar
“Lies the boundless river ahead, How will the horse cross it?
While Rana thought on his side, Chetak was that side!”
As I returned to Udaipur, I visited 2 other places including Eklanji which has a Shiva Temple where Raja Udai Singh used to pray and Nagda. Night stay at Udaipur.
A Rajasthan trip is incomplete without the camels
Day 6 : Back to Udaipur
Day 6 was spent local sightseeing Udaipur including the boating and ropeway trips as mentioned before.
The 6 day road trip was amazing. The golden waters of Lake Pichola in Udaipur, the majestic forts of Kumbhalgarh and Chittaurgarh, the on-top-of-the-world-moment at Guru Shikar (Mount Abu), the holy Nathdwara temple, the battle reminding Haldighati, the peaceful Ranakpur Temple – these are some of the moments which I cannot forget. The Mewar circuit is one of the less popular tourist destinations in India – but it is one of the best places in the country.