The strongest dam in the region with temples of exquisite architecture, Udaisagar Lake was specially designed to keep Lake City free from water pollution. Located about fifteen kilometers from Udaipur in the east is the picturesque Udaisagar Lake built by Maharana Udai Singh.
Even before the foundation of the city of Udaipur, Maharana Udai Singh had planned to have a huge waterbody. After deliberation with his companion Sardars and experts, and in consultation with astrologers and other scholars, he laid the foundation of the Udaisagar dam in Shukla Paksha of the month of Chaitra in 1616 Vikram Samvat. When the work was completed at the end of five years, the Maharana performed its ‘pratishtha’ with all his paraphernalia. On Vaishakh Shukla Tritya (Akashya tritya) the Maharana accompanied by Maharani went round the lake water in a palanquin and gave gold, silver, land, villages, etc. in charity and named the lake UdaiSagar.
It is also interesting to note that there could be another reason for the lake being named Udaisagar. According to Indian astrology, those born on this day are given names beginning with the Hindi alphabet ‘ee, oo, ai, etc ’. So it was appropriate that the dam was named Udaisagar.
Udaisagar also shows adherence to the norms of the medieval Indian town planning. According to the manuals, following the establishment of a new town, a reservoir at a distance of 10 to 15 km and a canal connecting the town and the reservoir be compulsorily constructed so as to drain away from the sewage and wastewater from the town to a distant place thereby saving the environment of the town and its vicinity from pollution.
It seems the Maharana kept all this in view and built Udaisagar so that all wastewater of the city was washed down to the lake first through a canal to the river Ahar, near Rana Pratap Nagar railway station and then to the river itself.
Earlier the city of Udaipur was surrounded by a city wall and outside this wall was a wide moat from Hathipol to Udaipol in which fell all the dirty wastewater of drains and gutters of the city. All this water flowed in a big drain from outside Udaipol to the Ayad River near Rana Pratap Railway station. And this, in turn, fell into Udaisagar with the water of Ayad River.
According to geologists, the different kinds of rocks that are crores of years old do not allow the water to seep in the Mewar region thereby making the conservation of underground water difficult. Realizing the utility of such rocks in checking the flow of river water, the foresighted Maharanas used them judiciously to preserve water in the lakes.
The lake is four kilometers long, two and a half kilometers wide, nine meters deep and covers an area of ten and a half square kilometers. The fifty four-meter wide embankments have stood the challenge of rains for a long time. Its capacity is 23.4 cubic meters.
As the dam is very high when it is full the water can enter Udaipur city. So on the left side of the dam, rocks have been cut and an exit gate made to let the excess water flow down. At present, the level is limited only to twenty-four feet. The overflow water from the Udaisagar dam built over river Berach goes to the Sarjana dam of Vallabhnagar and Bhattsagar dam of Narayanpur and from there on to Banas and Gambhri rivers of Chittorgarh. Udaisagar dam is the strongest one in this region. It was due to the extremely high quality of technology used in building it that it was not damaged when water flowed over it in 1875.
From the point of view of some aspects of the architecture of Mewar, the Udaisagar dam is quite unique. On the embankment are two temples with beautiful icons studded on their walls. One of them Udai Shyam Prasad built by Maharana Udai Singh displays the trend and style of religious architecture of sixteenth-century A.D. in Mewar.
It is said there existed an Ashram of a yogi that had to be demolished to build the dam. This angered the yogi with the result that whatever work was done by the builders were demolished by the power of the ‘yogi’. The Maharana learned about it, he went to the yogi and persuaded him to let the dam built. The mesmerizing beauty of the overflowing water is a big attraction for visitors.
On the east of embankment and below it can be seen the ruins of a palace built during the reign of Maharana Jagat Singh First. On the western bank of the lake on the hillock known as Medi Magri there impressive double storey palace named Udai Niwas built by Maharana Fateh Singh. A Sthank of Udai Behrun is also there.
The embankment of Udaisagar has related to some historic events. It is believed that while returning after the expedition against Gujarat, Kunwar Man Singh of Amber, Jaipur came to Udaipur to persuade Maharana Pratap to have an alliance with Akbar. To receive the guest courteously, Pratap arranged a splendid feast on the embankment of Udaisagarbut absented himself, and sent his son prince AmarSingh to attend the feast. When Mansingh enquired about the whereabouts of Pratap, he was informed that he had a stomachache. The prince assumed that Pratap had intentionally decided not to be there, because of the matrimonial relation the house of Amber had with the Mughals. So he also did not partake in the feast and left the place in anger. It is believed that this incident precipitated the warfare between Mewar and the Mughals through further historical research does not corroborate any such dialogue between the two. Some other reports stated that the meeting was very cordial.
The embankment of Udaisagar is also associated with an event that led the houses of Mewar and Jaipur to enter into a matrimonial alliance. It is said that in the year 1707 A.D, the Mughal emperor Shah Alam Bahadur Shah fortified the territories of the princes of Jaipur and Jodhpur. When all the efforts of both the princes did not bear fruit to get their territories released, they came to Udaipur for help. The erstwhile Maharana Amar Singh Second first met both the princes in the palace that now stands in ruins just behind the embankment of Udaisagar. Afterward, the guests were taken to the palace of Udaipur where after a great deal of negotiation that included the condition that the son born of the princess of Mewar only would succeed the throne of Jaipur, the houses of Mewar and Jaipur entered into a matrimonial alliance. The Maharana helped both the princes with his army and evicted the Mughal forces from the territories of Jaipur and Jodhpur. Afterward, the Maharana’s daughter was weeded to Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh of Jaipur.