The city of Udaipur is best known as the ‘City of Lakes’. Recognized as the oldest lake of Udaipur that is popular for its scenic background, the Pichola Lake is one of the most picturesque and beautiful lakes in Rajasthan, India. Built in 1362, this artificial freshwater lake was made by Pichhu Banjara during the time of Maharana Lakha ruling. The Lake Pichola extends 2 miles in width, 3 miles in length and 30 feet in depth.
This beautiful expanse of water surrounds the islands of Jagh Mandir and Lake Palace Hotel (Jagh Niwas). The name Pichola means ‘the backyard’, perhaps a fitting name as it serves as a picturesque background of the overlooking City Palace. Aside from this, there is another version regarding its name. Many believed that the lake is named after a nearby Picholi Village, and was initially built early by Banjara who was transporting grain.
Legend told that it was early built by Banjara who constructed a dam across it since his bullocks could not cross the stream. Later on, Maharaja Udai Singh enlarged it and created a stone masonry dam called as ‘Badi Pol’. Through the years, the surroundings and the lake have been further developed and became a major tourist attraction.
Surrounding the lake, you can find a handful of ‘ghats’ (river landing stairs), like washing and bathing ghats, which can be reached via boats from the Bansi Ghat or City Palace of Udaipur. At the heart of the lake is the Lake Palace that is transformed into a luxurious palace hotel.
The Pichola Lake stays shallow even during heavy rainfall, and gets dry quickly in times of relentless drought. Pichola Lake was primarily built for drinking water needs and irrigation. An interesting fact is that during the years 1998 to 2005, the lake became almost completely dry due to lower rainfall and degradation of the catchment.
Rainwater is the principal source to fill this lake. When the lake is full, it draws multitude of Indian and foreign tourists. The magnetic charm of the lake can easily be explored via boat cruise. You can find many small boat services here. If you are eager to explore the entire territory of the water, do not miss to ride over the banks which allow you to see the ghats of the lakeside.
Besides the two stunning islands, there are a handful of attractions on its shores such as the Oberoi Udaivilas, the City Palace Museum, the Leela Palace Kempinski and the two heritage hotels – Fateh Prakash and Shiv Niwas. You can also find other smaller islands within the vast Lake Pichola. On the west coast is the Arsi Vilas Island where an arched bridge can be seen erected by Maharana Swaroop Singh.
The Sitamata Game Sanctuary is also here. On the southern part is a hill known as Hora Magra, an ideal place to view the Eklinggarh Fort. On the north is the ceremonial ghat where Gangaur Festival is celebrated. Towards the east bank is the City Palace of Udaipur, the biggest complex in the city.
A favorite spot for filmmakers, the Lake Pichola is situated just three kilometers away from the railway and bus stations. You can reach this site by riding an auto-rickshaw, taxi, tongas or by local bus.