In 1567, after the great fortress capital of Mewar, Chitor, had been sacked for the third time-- this time by the armies of Mughal Emperor Akbar - Maharana Udai Singh II withdrew into the hills and ravines of the Aravalli range. One morning when the Rana was out hunting by Lake Pichola, he saw a sage meditating. He dutifully paid full respects to the holy man. Having recounted the fall of Chitor, the Rana asked the sage, "Where, O Revered One, should I build my next capital city?" And the sage answered, "Why, right here of course, where your destiny has brought you to ask such a question." And that's what Udai Singh did. Surrounded by forests, lakes and the protective Aravallis, the new capital of Mewar was certainly in a less vulnerable location than was Chitorgarh.

Maharana Udai Singh’s son, Rana Pratap (ruled 1572 - 97), one of the great warrior-kings of Mewar, lived in troubled times. He was one of only two Rajput rulers who refused to accept Mughal suzerainty or to compromise with Akbar: no Sisodia princess was ever given to a Mughal emperor or prince in marriage. The other Rajput ruler similarly to hold out against the Mughals was the Chauhan Maharao of Bundi.

Akbar allowed both states to survive, however the next generation accepted reality and signed treaties with the Mughals. Eventually, Pratap freed Udaipur and much of Mewar from the Mughals grip but he failed to regain his heart's desire - Chitor.

Later, after the struggle with the Mughals was over, Udaipur was attacked by the native guerilla fighting free-booters, the Marathas.British Intervention finally ended these bloody battles and instability in the early 1800s.The Rajput rulers signed treaties with the British, gaining protection from invaders, but giving up their sovereignty. Along with all other Princely States, Udaipur became a part of a united India under the British RAJ. The reactionary Maharana of the late 19th century, Fateh Singh, however, was able to prevent the British from building any railroads across his state.

Views around Lake Pichola are stunning: dry brown hills frame blue lakes with marble palaces and pavillions. If you are patient you’ll see kingfishers and coots. The Maharana’s long pleasure boats for courtly dalliance, are still out on the lake. The romantic Lake Palace Hotel, in the middle of Pichola, was used in the Masterpiece Theatre series: The Jewel in the Crown.

Nearby are the Jain temples of Ranakpur with 1444 hand carved marble pillars, all of them individual with no two alike.