World Heritage Day 2019: Udaipur Heritage, the strings attached to past       

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In the year 1982, the International Council on Monuments and Sites decided to celebrate 18 April as World Heritage Day. It was a step taken towards spreading awareness about monuments and other sites which are a part of our history. Udaipur is one of the most prominent cultural heritage signatures of Mewar.

Future generations have the right to live history through these heritage sites and hence they should be preserved. Udaipur – The Venice of East, a beautiful city guarded by the Aravalli range, was founded in the 16th century by Maharana Udai Singh. Since it was a circular piece of fertile land in between Girwa valley, it was declared as the capital of Mewar. The prosperous cultural heritage legacy was received by the different generations of rulers. City Palace, Jagdish temple, Saheliyon ki Bari, Ahar Cenotaphs, Monsoon Palace, Bagore Ki Haveli and many such locations in Udaipur act like a bridge between the generations.

City palace
City palace

A sense of royalty can be felt through the architecture of such sites. With each passing day, each monument of the city repeats the story to every visitor and this story needs to be conserved. Safeguarding of heritage sites is very important because they give a sense of identity and continuity in a fast-changing world to the coming generations. Heritage sites basically reflect the culture of the city.

Let’s go on a roller coaster ride through the heritage sites of the city or wait, rather, let’s walk together across the city. While walking towards the old city you see Gulab Bagh on your left and vintage car museum on your right. The transition from new to the old city is worth noticing and can be seen through the gates and architecture of houses. When the lanes start to narrow down, it means you are close to witnessing something magical.

City Palace:

City Palace, 1910
City Palace, 1910

The palace complex situated on the east bank of Lake Pichola was constructed over a period of 400 years when the capital was shifted from Chittor district. The palace constantly got several modifications by other rulers of the dynasty. It was mostly constructed in Rajasthani style with a touch of Mughal architecture. It is designed so beautifully that it overlooks several other historical sites such as Lake Pichola, Jagdish Temple, Monsoon Palace and a perfect view of the entire city. Crystal gallery is the major attraction in this complex.

Jagdish Temple:

Jagdish Temple
Jagdish Temple

Moving ahead, when the streets will shrink further, a treat to eyes is guaranteed. On a junction of three roads, Jagdish Temple is situated. Jagdish temple was made by Maharana Jagat Singh in 1651. Maharana Jagat Singh ruled Udaipur for 25 years from 1628 to 1653. The temple is dedicated to the preserver of the universe Lord Vishnu. It is the largest temple in the city. After 28 years of the construction of the temple, Mughal ruler Aurangzeb wanted the temple to get destroyed and sent his army to do so. But the army of Maharana Raj Singh (ruler of Udaipur back then) didn’t let them succeed. Thank god a unique specimen of architecture was saved for us.

Saheliyon ki Bari:

Saheliyon ki badi
Saheliyon Ki Badi

Tired already? Let’s take an auto to Saheliyon ki Bari which is approximately 4 Kms away from the core of the city. Saheliyon ki Bari’s heritage talks about a group of forty-eight young women attendants who came with the princess as a part of her dowry. It is a major garden of the city and was built in the year 1710 by Maharana Sangram Singh for the royal ladies. Imagine a historic garden built for a queen. Royalness of this place is refreshing.

Ahar Cenotaphs:

Ahar cenotaph complex
Ahar cenotaph complex

Now moving toward the destination where these great creators of this dynasty are buried. It has a total of 372 cenotaphs of around 19 Maharanas who once ruled the city. This spectacular field of domes was built approx. 400 years back. Most attractive cenotaph that you will be able to spot will be of Maharana Sangram Singh, go look for it and the newest was built in the year 2004 of Udaipur’s last Maharana, Bhagwat Singh. After a walk of 150 m from Ahar Cenotaphs, you can find Ahar government museum which contains copper and pottery objects that are around 3300-years-old.

Tip: Observe the silence here.

Monsoon Palace or Sajjan Garh:

Sajjangarh
Sajjangarh

We can’t walk to next destination but I bet the way to that place is an adventure in itself. The monsoon palace, also called Sajjangarh palace is a hilltop palace at a distance of around 7 km from the city. It was built by Maharana Sajjan Singh in the year 1884. It is said that from there monsoon clouds could be seen coming towards the city. It was originally constructed by the royal family of Mewar and is now owned by the forest department of the government of Rajasthan but you don’t need to worry about that. The beautiful palace gives you a mind-blowing view of the sunset and is supposedly called monsoon palace because it seems like the palace is floating in heaven during Monsoon.

A view of the old city

There are many such locations around which will take you back in time. On every location, one can stand and feel that the place has been standing there for a long time and knows the secrets that you might be interested in.

On this World Heritage Day, let’s take a pledge of preserving these locations on our part. Engraving names of your loved ones won’t make you a hero but preserving cultural heritage can make you one. Also, good knowledge to have, there are dustbins around these locations, please use them and don’t litter. Not just one day, make every day as Heritage Day. Come and celebrate this auspicious day like a festival because these monuments are none less than time travel machines.

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