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.
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 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
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
Threats to the lake
of the issues identified as causes for weakening of the Lake
• 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
• 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
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
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.