This year, I covered many cities and towns in Rajasthan with my recent holiday there. While each city has something that I liked, the one city that earned the tag of being my favorite is Udaipur.
Surrounded by green hills, this gorgeous lake city of Udaipur charmed me on a lot of counts and if I had to broadly explain these reasons, I would put them into these buckets.
1) Illustrious History of Udaipur
By now, most of you know that I am sucker for history and any heritage building or story totally grabs my attention. Udaipur has tons of it, which is not any different from what the other cities in Rajasthan offer but nonetheless, the presence of it adds to its charm. The history of this place brings out the valour and strength of the Sisodia clan of Rajputs – one of the few clans that resisted the Mughals and hence, made its own story – a different one.
Let me start with the gorgeous 4 centuries old City Palace. The palace itself is unique as it lies right in the middle of the city, on the banks of the Lake Pichola. The palace is widely acknowledged as one of the Best on the world by magazines like Travel and Leisure and rightly so, given the lovely architecture it has.
Be it their gates like the Toran gate or the inner palaces, the city palace has awed all its visitors, including me. In this post, I am not going to get into details of the palace (I promise a detailed one later) but will definitely urge the visitors to Udaipur to check out the lovely reflection and illumination of the palace in the Lake Pichola. That truly is a sight to behold.
Besides the City Palace, there is also, the Jag Mandir and the Lake palace that is now a Taj Property, in the middle of the lake. While you can visit the Jag Mandir, the Lake Palace is out of bounds, unless of course, if you are a Taj guest. Sigh!!! Someday, I hope to be that just so that I get to see it from within.
Moving on with the History, the one place that I really found charming was the Saheliyon ki bari – or the garden for the Queen and her maids. I found the concept quite amusing as well as the place very scenic and unique. Imagine yourself to be a queen and to have a garden of your own, where you can choose to have fun, play some games, bathe in numerous pools and have some of your own unique collections of fountains. To me, it does sound fascinating. The walk along the gardens was quite refreshing and insightful into the lives of the royalty.
Further adding to the treasure trove of history are the Monsoon palace, the Saas Bahu temples, Jagdish Mandir and the beautiful cenotaphs of the rulers at Ahar. I promise you a detailed post on each later, but for the time being, will move to my next reason as to why I loved Udaipur.
2) Shopping in Udaipur
Yes, yes …I know it is mostly a girly indulgence but with enough of it being in Udaipur, for me it is a reason to like this place. The gorgeous flowing skirts teamed with traditional tops, the traditional mojris and footwear and the lovely jewelry is enough for any girl to go crazy. What is more is that it is so easy on the pockets and you can buy tons of it. 🙂
But clothes and accessories are’nt the only things that you can shop for. All through Udaipur, I found these lovely lamps for your homes and rooms – a perfect blend of contemporary and traditional art.
And don’t miss out on the bags and the traditional crafts while here. The crafts are sure to make your home look like a royalty. Shopping here is street shopping and honestly, because it is street shopping, it so appeals to me. 🙂
3) Food in Udaipur
Udaipur is a place for foodies – especially the chaats and the snacks. Every road has these small shops with freshly made snacks on display and if you are anything like me, you probably would just hog on them and skip your main meals. Letting you in on my secret – when traveling, I just let go of my diet and really snack it out. 🙂 Some must try snacks include the Ganthiya, Kachoris with Jalebies
Not to forget the amazing chaats you get on the streets. Don’t miss an evening out at the Sukhadia circle where you not only get to enjoy the Chaats but also, have some fun with some games at the street stalls. Besides Sukhadia circle, you can even try out the chaats at the Bapu Bazaar Road, which is where I managed to have some. I would have loved to try it all but well, there is only that much my tummy would hold.
If you are anything like my hubby who loves at least one full meal a day, then of course, there are options of Rajasthani food all over Udaipur. Check out my favorite Rajasthani dishes on this link – an inspiration for your order.
Udaipur has plenty of multi-cuisine restaurants that serve Italian, Continental and other Indian dishes as well. The one place that I not just loved for its food but also, its view was the terrace restaurant of Hotel Devraj Niwas, that I stayed in. The lovely restaurant opens to the Lake Pichola and totally, adds to the pleasure of the food that you are having here.
4) Staying in Udaipur
Udaipur has some really amazing and affordable stay options – hotels that are fairly easy on the pocket and right along the Lake Pichola. I loved our stay at Hotel Devraj Niwas, with its small pool. a roof top restaurant and royal rooms. The stay in this hotel was not just comfortable from the perspective of comfortable rooms but was also, amazing as the hotel was central to the town and I just had to walk along the small roads to various spots around. The City palace, Bagore ki Haveli and the Lake Pichola boat jetty were literally a stone’s throw away from this place.
Having a hotel at a convenient location also, allows to explore the tiny roads of the place giving you a better insight into the culture and pulse of the place. I happened to be there onDusshera and experienced the colorful Dusshera festivals on the roads. With loud music, jovial and fun-loving people and amazing dances, the Dusshera processions were so much fun.
Incidentally, this hotel was also, located in the same area where the famed James Bond movie – Octopussy was shot. You could see various boards along the street indicating the same.
The area also, had some unique coffee shops including a German one. What I also, found interesting were the classes that people in Udaipur offered for the travelers to soak in more of the Indian culture. You could choose to learn Indian music or take some cookery classes here and take back a little of India with you. 🙂
Staying in such a culturally rich area, definitely added some points to make this city my favorite in Rajasthan.
5) The charming lakes of Udaipur
Lake Pichola is one of the main lakes in this city. The lovely lake mirrors the beauty of the city at all times of the day. The colors of the lake are so heart-warming and pleasing to the eye and of course, the photographer in me tried to capture it all through the lens.
Besides the Lake Pichola, you can even visit the Fatehsagar lake, which offers you a huge jet fountain on one of its islands and a small zoo on another. There are various boating opportunities here and I would recommend taking one for Lake Pichola. Go for the Sunset boating rather than during the day. I found the entire experience so beautiful for when the sun goes down, it adds various colors and shades to the lake, some of which reflect on the water and some over the gorgeous heritage buildings in the lake. There is a serene feeling that you get as you watch the sky and the water turn into different colors – something that is inexplicable, and is best, experienced.
As the Sunset boating continues, and the lights of the city palace and the other heritage buildings get on, the lake again reflects a different charm. That one hour of boating really made me fall in love with the Lake and the Lake city of Udaipur. I feel I did not get enough of this city and would definitely want to go back there once again.
Udaipur has an airport of its own and is well connected to major Indian cities by domestic flights
One can reach Udaipur by rail as well as roads. Both these forms of transport connect Udaipur to all the major cities of India
The best time to visit Udaipur is between September to March.
During the day, Udaipur is quite pleasant and cotton clothes would work well then. During evening, it gets a little nippy and would advise you to carry a few light woolens for the same. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended here as there is plenty of walking to be done.
I would recommend taking a Sunset cruise from the Lalghat jetty rather than City Palace. The boat covers the same sights and is little cheaper than what you would spend otherwise.
Travel within Udaipur is fairly easy. You can opt for rickshaws or just take one of the local buses to head to various places. Local cabs are also, available and can be arranged for by your hotel or place of stay.
A lot of my general tips on Rajasthan can be found here. You will find quite a few of them useful for Udaipur