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Lake Pichola
About Lake Pichola

Lake Pichola, is located in Udaipur city in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Lake Pichokla is an artificial fresh water lake, formed in the year 1362 AD, named after the nearby Picholi village.It is one of the several contiguous lakes, and developed over the last few centuries in and around the famous Udaipur city. The lakes around Udaipur were mainly created by building dams to meet the drinking water and irrigation needs of the city and its neighborhood. Two islands, Jag Niwas and Jag Mandir are situated within Pichola Lake, and have been developed with several palaces to provide views of the lake.

There are four islands on the lake :
• Jag Niwas, where the Lake Palace is built.
• Jag Mandir, with the palace of the same name.
• Mohan Mandir, from where the king would watch the annual Gangaur festival celebration.
• Arsi Vilas, small island which was an ammunition depot, but also a small palace. This one was constructed by one of the maharanas of Udaipur to enjoy the sunset on the lake. It is also a sanctuary which caters to a variety of birds, including coots ,tufted ducks, terns, egrets, kingfishers and cormorants

Three of the several lakes found in the area of Udaipur which connect with the Pichola lake and the Saroop Sagar Lake connected by an arched bridge constructed by Maharana Swaroop Singh (1842-1861) which in turn links to the Fateh Sagar Lake, the crystal watered lake in the midst of tree lined hills and the smaller Arsi vilas.

History of Lake Pichola

Pichola Lake was constructed in 1362 AD by Banjara, a gypsy “Banjara” tribesman who transported grain, during the control of Maharana Lakha. Later, Maharana Udai Singh who was impressed by the beauty of this lake with the scenery of green hills, founded the city of Udaipur on the banks of the lake and also extend the Lake by constructing a stone masonry dam in the Badipol region on the shore of the Lake.

The lake’s surroundings and the several islands within the lake have been developed over the centuries, with marble temples, palaces, family mansions, bathing ghats or chabutaras (a raised platform, normally within a courtyard); some of the famous ones are the Lake

Palace (now converted into a heritage hotel) in the middle of the lake also called the Pichola Palace (pictured) or Jag Nivas situated on the Jag Island, the Jag Mandir, the Mohan Mandir (in the northeast corner of the lake founded by Jagat Singh between 1628 and 1652), the City Palace of Udaipur (Bansi Ghat) from where boats ply to all other parts of the Lake, the Arsi Vilas Island, which is a sanctuary for birds and the Sitamata Game Sanctuary on the western shore of the Lake.

At several locations where the lake narrows, decorative arch bridges have been built to span the waterway between the banks.

Prince Khurram who rebelled against Jahangir, sought protection of the Mewar King Maharana Karan Singh II in 1623 and was housed in the partially completed Jag Mandir. Prince Khurram later usurped the Mughal Empire, took the title of Shah Jahan.

Natini’s curse

The Natini Chabutra, is a raised platform in a courtyard, constructed to honor a “natani” (tightrope walker) legend. Maharana Jawan Singh (1828–38), in an intoxicated state, is stated to have assured a “natani” that half the kingdom of Mewar would be gifted to her if she crossed the lake over a tightrope stretched across the lake from a village on the west bank of the lake to the City Palace on the east bank. It is said that she was tricked since the rope got cut off before she was to reach the other end of the rope. The girl plunged into the lake and died. Before she died, it is believed that she cursed that the Maharana’s family. This curse is claimed to have come true, since six Ranas out of the seven succeeding Jawan Singh were adopted sons.

Octopussy, a 1983 James Bond film, was filmed in the areas of the Lake Palace and other two palaces in Udaipur (Shiv Niwas Palace and Monsoon Palace).

Hydrology and technical details

The Sisarma stream, a tributary of the Kotra River, drains a catchment of 55 km2 from the Aravalli Mountains and contributes to the flows in the lake.The average annual rainfall in the lake basin is 635 millimetres (25.0 in). The lake has a surface area of about 696 ha. It is 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) long and 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) wide, and has depth which varies from a minimum of 4.32 metres (14.2 ft) to a maximum of 8.5 metres (28 ft). In the heart of the Lake, a palace called the Lake Palace was built, which is now converted into a heritage palace hotel. This palace was constructed in marble in 1746 by Maharana Jagat Singh II, 62nd successor to the royal dynasty of Mewar, spreads across the 1.6 ha (4 acres) island and is claimed to be as imposing as the Taj Mahal. At the southern end, a dam was constructed across the major tributary to assist the Banjara tribesman to ford the stream with animals carrying grains. After 1560, Maharana Udai Sing II strengthened the dam (to a height of 15.24 m) when he set up the city of Udaipur around the scenic Lake. Machchala Magra hill, to the south of the city palace complex, is part of the old city wall and the small fort of Eklinggarh and the temple.

The fact that the Pichola lake was constructed by nomadic gypsies testifies that the rulers of Mewar encouraged people to build water harvesting structures.

During drought conditions because of lower rainfall & degradation of the catchment the lake becomes dry . During the years 1998 to July 2005. the Lakes of Udaipur were apparently dry.

Threats to the lake

Some of the issues identified as causes for weakening of the Lake environment are:
• Polluted due to disposal of sewerage directly into surface drains or surface water body
• Large-scale and uncontrolled mining of marble and other minerals leading to heavy deforestation of hill slopes.
• Catchment area degradation and soil erosion causing deposition of sediments into the Lake and disturbance to the eco- system of the area.
• Encroachments
• Dumping of solid, liquid waste, destruction of submergence areas and over utilization of water
• Poor governance, and
• Lack of citizens and stakeholders participation in management of the Lake
• Due to deteriorated water quality, out of 42 species of fishes including Mahseer and all major carp fishes only 17 species of fishes have survived.

Lake restoration works

Steps undertaken to restore the lakes by the NGOs, such as JSS and concerned government organizations are:
• Water hyacinth has been destroyed
• Biological measures undertaken
• Sewerage plan has been partly implemented.
• Catchment area conservation of the Pichhola Water shed project of Rs 34.2 million covering an area of 12702 ha under funding of the Government of India is under implementation


The Lake Pichola is approachable by road from the Udaipur City. Local buses, Tongas, auto-rickshaws and taxis provide the needed transport. Udaipur, in turn, is well connected through the Golden Quadrilateral road network, and it lies equidistant, at 650 kilometres, from Delhi and Mumbai on the National Highway (NH) 8. Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan is 6 hours by road and 3.5 hours drive from Ahmedabad to Udaipur. Rajasthan Tourism operates regular bus service from Delhi. It also falls on the East West Corridor which starts from Porbandar and ends at Silchar and intersects the Golden Quadrilateral and a part of this is the stretch from Udaipur to Chittor. 25 km from the lake is the Dabok Airport which connects to Delhi and Bombay. Udaipur Railway Station and Maharana Pratap Bus Stand are both 3 km away from the Lake.


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