Framed by majestic mountains, grand forts and magical palaces, Lake Pichola is a site dreams are made of. Watching the limpid blue sheet being set ablaze by the rising sun, is magical. It's equally mesmeric to just watch the grey-green mountains cast long shadows on the water, as the sun sets, and twinkling stars float on the ripples, mingling with lights from the surrounding restaurants and hotels. Located right at the heart of Udaipur, Pichola is one of the oldest and largest of the city's lakes. Built in 1362 by Pichhu Bajanara during the rule of Maharana Lakha, legends say that the beauty of the lake enticed Maharana Udai Singh to build a city by its banks. It was enlarged by Maharana Udai Singh II, after the city was constructed, by flooding Picholi village, which gave the lake its name. He also built a stone masonry dam in the Badipol area by the lake. Today, the lake is 4 km long and 3 km wide.

There are four islands on the lake: Jag Niwas, where the Lake Palace is located; Jag Mandir, with the palace of the same name; Mohan Mandir, from where the king would enjoy the annual Gangaur festival celebrations and Arsi Vilas, a tiny island which had a small palace and an ammunition storehouse. Legends say it was built by one of the kings of Udaipur to enjoy the sunset on the lake. It is also has a sanctuary where a large variety of birds like egrets, cormorants, coots, tufted ducks, terns and kingfishers can be spotted. Beautiful arched bridges were built to connect the shores of the lake at several places. While the magnificent City Palace stands along the eastern banks of this lake, on the southern side, stands the Machla Magri (Machhala Magra) or Fish Hill on which is located the ruins of the Eklinggarh Fort.


Boatrides on the lake are one of Udaipur's unmissable experiences. And while cruising on the serene lake, one truly understands the meaning of author Rudyard Kipling's words: "If the Venetian owned the Pichola Lake, he might say with justice, `see it and die'"!

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