Udaipur – One of the most romantic cities in India synonymous with Royalty, Grand Palaces, beautiful lakes and a culinary delight.
Set at the foot of the Aravalli Hills it is also known as the Venice of the East due to the abundance of its lakes and palaces. The sparkling waters of the 2 manmade lakes of Lake Pichola and Lake Fatehsagar form the backdrop of this magnificent city.
Udaipur still has its much loved and respected Maharaja and his magnificent City Palace forms the heart of the city and is visited by millions of tourists and locals every year.
Udaipur is one of the most impressive cities in Rajasthan filled with stunning architecture, ornate palaces, busy markets places, serene lakes and perhaps one of the most romantic sunset boat rides on the Lake Pichola.
In the Travel and Leisure World awards 2018 Udaipur was rated the ‘Top City in Asia’ and ranked #3 in the ‘World’s Top 15 Cities’.
One of the most colourful cities in India, Udaipur was founded in 1568 by the much loved and respected Maharana Udai Singh II. Its has always represented royalty and you can still experience this within the architecture and food and the magnificent City Palace.
Following the final slay of Chittorgarh by the Mughal emperor Akbar, Udaipur became the new capital of Mewar. However Mewar still faced repeated invasions by the Mughals followed by the Marathas and lastly the British in the early 19th century. This resulted in a treaty being signed by the royalty to protect Udaipur from invaders and allowing the rulers to remain effective.
The current Maharaja remains influential and loved by the locals and is one of the main driving forces behind the tourism boom in Udaipur. He has given a boost to the city and it has become a very popular wedding destination internationally and home to some of the most luxurious hotels you can imagine.
The city is truly a traveller’s paradise and one which was on my bucket list for a very long time and I finally managed to tick off . I have managed to pen down some of my thoughts and capture the beauty of this city and its warm welcoming people.
Udaipur is one of the most famous travel destinations in India and as a result is very well connected to most parts of the country by air, road and train.
By Air :The Maharana Pratap or Dabok Airport is located 22 km from the city of Udaipur and it roughly takes 45 minutes to reach the city. The airport is well connected to all the major cities of India and there is a choice of domestic airlines that connect the city. You can easily get a taxi at the airport or book an UBER which is a more preferred way these days. The trip to the centre of the city should cost between INR 600 and 750.
By Train :There are frequent trains which run to and from Udaipur connecting it to most of India and if you really want to pamper yourself and experience royalty then why not try the Palace on Wheels.
By Road : Udaipur is fairly well connected by road are there are many private and state buses connecting Udaipur to nearby cities. You can hire a car from the capital Delhi and drive down to Udaipur as well.
Best Time to Go
As most of the sub continent Udaipur and Rajasthan experience really hot summers. Rajasthan is home to the Thar Desert which makes it one of the hottest states in India and summers can be are really hot and brutal. As a result the best time to visit Rajasthan is between October and March. The winter season is the best time to visit Udaipur but keep in mind this is the peak season so book in advance as prices can soar due to the high demand both locally and internationally. There are many festivals specially the Mewar Festival which takes place in March.
Taxi / UBER – Most hotels, guesthouses and travel agencies can organise a car and driver for you and this is a easy but expensive way to travel within the city. The city is relatively small and can be seen in a day. I used Uber extensively and this was quite easy and a trusted method. You can hire a car if you are looking to travel outside the city on day trips.
Autorickshaw – If you want to experience the real India then hop on to a Tuk Tuk and enjoy the narrow lanes of Udaipur. Most of the Autos as they are called here are unmetered, so you should agree on a fare before you start your journey. There are a few places within the city where you can only reach by Auto Rickshwaws as the roads are very narrow. It is a fun way of seeing the city and I must say you should give it a shot.
Bicycle & Motorcycle – A cheap and green way to buzz around the city and you can rent a bicycle for as less as £2 a day. You can also hire a scooter or motorbikes but if you are not familiar with driving the Indian way I would suggest you stay away.
Once you are in the heart of the city a lot of it can be covered on foot and I must say this is the best way to see what the narrow lanes of Udaipur have in store for you. The narrow alleyways in the old city are a photographers treat so suggest you use those legs .
Where to Stay.
Udaipur is synonymous with luxurious hotels and grand palaces but it can be easily done on a budget as well. There are many hotels across the city and you can easily find one which fits your budget. It is a popular tourist and wedding destination and caters to all pockets. Home to one of the most expensive hotels in the world The Oberoi Udaivillas, Udaipur is a playground of the rich and famous but as welcoming to all its travellers.
Our choice of abode was the comfortable and delightful Trident Hotel.
Built over forty three acres on the banks of Lake Pichola the Trident, Udaipur is ranked amongst the best hotels near the lake. It is a comfortable and perfectly located to explore the famed sites of the city, such as the City Palace, the Crystal Gallery, the Monsoon Palace or the beautiful Jagmandir.
No five star, royal hospitality is quite complete without a lavish feast. The hotel’s main restaurant, Aravalli, serves authentic dishes from the Kingdom of Mewar, known for its fine cuisine. Inspired by the architectural and cultural heritage of Udaipur the 137 rooms and 4 suites reflect Udaipur’s elegance, luxury and charm.
The children enjoyed the Trident Kids’ Club and stories of ’Bada Mahal’ – a 150 year old wild life conservatory within the hotel premises. Another master stroke was a boat ride under the stars on the beautiful Lake Pichola arranged by the concierge where you surrender to the charms of this magnificent city.
Would certainly recommend the hotel and it is located within the perimeters of the Udai Villas so you can pop into the luxurious hotel for an afternoon tea or a drink at the bar.
From grand palaces, sparking lakes, bazars, temples, and monuments there is so much Udaipur has to offer. Home to some of the best Rajasthani culinary delights Udaipur will tickle your taste buds. Whether it is navigating the ancient, winding streets of the old city or bargaining in bazaars, to taking a boat ride on shimmering waters of the Lake Pichola, Udaipur is beautiful and a city you will fall in love with.
One of the most iconic buildings in Udaipur and one which stands out from a distance is the magnificent City Palace complex. Sitting on the banks of Lake Pichola, the city palace is one of the largest places in Rajasthan. Surprisingly it is not just one single palace but a complex which actually contains 11 small palaces.
The palace was built over a period of nearly 400 years, with contributions from several rulers of the Mewar dynasty. Its construction began in 1553 by Maharana Udai Singh II as he shifted his capital from the Chittor to the new found city of Udaipur.
The Palace was built in a flamboyant style and the architecture is a fusion of the Rajasthani and Mughal styles. It provides a panoramic view of the city and several other historic monuments including the Lake Palace, Jag Mandir, Jagdish Temple, Monsoon Palace, and Neemach Mata temple. You can easily spend several hours in this complex.
The palaces within the complex are interlinked through a number of zigzag corridors, planned in this fashion to avoid surprise attacks by enemies. The Fateprakash Palace and the Shiv Niwas Palace have been converted into heritage hotels. The complex is set with facilities of a post office, bank, travel agency, numerous craft shops and the entire complex is the property of the Mewar royal family.
You can purchase a ticket at the counter just outside the place and would recommend getting one which includes a boat ride and a stop at the Jag Mandir.
Undoubtedly the lifeline of Udaipur, Lake Pichola is one of the most beautiful and picturesque lakes of Rajasthan. It is a is an artificial fresh water lake named after the nearby Picholi village. The lakes around Udaipur were primarily created by building dams to meet the drinking water and irrigation needs of the city. Two islands, Jag Niwas and Jag Mandir are located within Pichola Lake, and have been developed to provide beautiful views of the lake and the city.
You cannot visit Udaipur and not take a boat ride on this famous lake . There are a number of hotels, palaces and ghats that line the banks of the lake. However the best way to enjoy this lake is to take a sunset boat ride and watch the world go by.
Regular boat rides range anything between INR 300-400 Rs. If you plan to take a sunset ride this will be a bit more expensive and will cost you roughly INR 700. Club your ride with a visit to Jag Mandir where you get panoramic views of the entire city and relax and sip on a cocktail in the hotel bar.
This is a palace built on an island in the middle of the Lake Pichola. The construction of the palace was started in 1551 by Maharana Amar Singh and finally completed by Maharana Jagat Singh I in 1652 and named after him. The palace was used by the royal family as a summer resort and entertaining their guests. It is located majestically in the centre of theLake Pichola, the only way to reach Jag Mandir is by a boat ride. It has now become a very famous destination for weddings and film shootings.
The striking feature of palace is the spacious courtyard with black and white marble tiles and eight life size marble Elephants that welcome you as you get off the boat. The hotel provides good dining experience or a quick snack if you are in a hurry.
Another palace in Udaipur that gives you some great views of the city is the Sajjangarh or Monsoon Palace. The palace is perched high on a hill above the city and is very popular with tourists and locals to get that perfect sunset shot. Maharana Sajjan Singh, originally planned to make it a five-storey astronomical centre. The plan was cancelled with his premature death. It was then turned into a monsoon palace and hunting lodge. The Palace is illuminated in the evenings, giving a golden orange glow and was used in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy.
Bagore ki Haveli
Bagore Ki Haveli is an ancient building on the Gangori Ghat with splendid architecture. Built in the eighteenth century it boasts of delicate carved wood work and excellent glass work. It was built by Amir Chand Badwa, who was the Chief Minister at the Mewar Royal Court and is a great place to spend your evening in Udaipur enjoying Dharohar, a traditional Rajasthani folk dance show. The Haveli has since been carefully restored and turned into a museum which houses some of the exclusive stuff of Rajputs like jewellery boxes, dice-games, hukkas, pan boxes, and copper vessels and other items used by the rulers. The Queen’s Chamber showcases fascinating original paintings of Mewar.
There are over 100 rooms and a beautiful courtyards. The show starts at 7pm, but tickets are on a first come, first served basis. This is very popular with tourists and gets sold out so make sure you reach well ahead of time. A popular cultural show in Udaipur where Rajasthani men play music, women dance and there is a short puppet show at the end.
Saheliyon Ki Bari
A great place to relax and enjoy the gardens. Saheliyon-Ki-Bari or ‘garden of the maids’ was built by Maharana Bhopal Singh for a group of 48 young women attendants who accompanied a princess to Udaipur as part of her dowry. With its lush greenery, flowers, beautiful fountains, lotus pools, and marble artefacts, Saheliyon-Ki-Bari offers some splendid views and is one of the most visited gardens in Udaipur.The ornate gardens are home to fountains, marble elephants, flower beds, a small museum, and beautiful lotus pond.
Built by Maharaja Jagat Singh in 1651 this temple is a true example of Indo Aryan architecture and has been in constant worship till date. Its has beautifully carved statues of Gods and Goddesses and is situated in the old town. It is a very prominent tourist spot with the main shrine in Udaipur dedicated to Lord Laxmi Narayan.
Udaipur has a rustic charisma charm about it and with its narrow lanes and shops makes it a great place to wander and get some great bargains. about it. Its tradition and culture has attracted tourists from all over the world and its art work speaks for itself. There are many markets and bazaars in Udaipur, but one of the biggest for your souvenir shopping is Hathi Pol. This is where you can pick up local folk art and handicrafts, including the unique Rahjasthani miniature paintings.
Cooking Classes in Udaipur.
A really popular thing to do in Udaipur these days and advertised all over the City. If you are interested in this then Udaipur is a great place to enhance your cooking skills with a range of dishes from the royal kitchen.
Like most of Rajasthan Udaipur is steeped in rich food history and one that would make your mouth water. Surprisingly there is a lot of non vegetarian options that come from the Rajputana influence. Lal Maas and Dhungar Maas being the most popular dishes and one you must try when in Rajasthan. If you happen to be a vegetarian then you must try the ever so popular Ker-Sangri, a dry vegetable dish enjoyed by all.
There are many popular dishes derived from local produce and developed over the years and give you the real taste of Rajasthani cuisine. Some of the other popular treats include Dal Baati Churma Papad ki Subzi and Rajasthani Kadhi to name a few.
I must say I in food paradise and here is a list of eateries I would highly recommend if you are in Udaipur.
One of the most popular and talked about restaurants in Udaipur is Ambrai. I must say it is not the food alone that makes it sopopular but the location and ambience that all add to its glory. Situated on the banks of Lake Pichola, dinning here provides a spectacular view of both the City Palace and the Lake Palace.
The food is not outstanding but overall a great experience with the Lal Maas topping the list f what to try. Established in 1998, this place is synonymous with delicious food but that really matters is you dine at Ambrai for that unforgettable experience and beautiful views of the city.
Upre which means upstairs is located on the terrace of Hotel Lake Pichola and has amazing views of the city and Lake Pichola. You can enjoy a relaxed lunch or dine with some of the most beautiful views of a lit up Daipur. The individual tables are done up royally like tents and gives you a nice and romantic feel.
Situated inside the City Palace it is a great place to unwind after your long walks inside the Palace and the museum. Once again it offers amazing view and is perfect for a light snack and a glass of wine. –
Located inside a 16th century bungalow is another treat when it comes to both food and ambience. 1559 AD was the historical year when Maharana Udai Singhji founded the city of Udaipur thus the name follows it. Great place for lunch away from the hustle and bustle of the city with beautiful gardensand shaded terrace.
Khamma Ghani Restaurant is located at the edge of old city, on the lake rang sagar with the view of “The City Palace” and old town. Appealing to the eye this multi-cuisine restaurant does stimulate the senses fully but would recommend the Indian and Rajasthani cuisine. Again a beautiful seating area overlooking the lake with candle light tables makes it the perfect diner table.
Udaipur has a large amount of rooftop cafes and restaurants and are the best places to see the sunset and great views of the old city and palace. So if you do end up in one of these make sure you stay until it gets dark to see the City light up and in its full glory.
Apart from the above listed restaurants your trip cannot be complete without tasting the magnificent street food that is here for offer in Udaipur.
What an experience and one I will never forget. I had heard so much about this beautiful city and honestly it truly lived up to it and more.
I would love to go back to Udaipur and if you have not then all I can say is start planning.
- Experience the authentic Rajputana experience by living in a Haveli.
- Soak in the different moods of Gangaur ghat through the day.
- Enjoy your evening to the tunes of Rajasthani Folk dance at Bagore ki haweli.
- Navigate the magical narrow by-lanes of the old city.
- Get a quick lesson on how the Royals dined in a cookery class.
- Soak in the sunset from one of the roof top cafes of the city.
- Feast on a Kullad rabdi at Fatehsagar Lake.
- Ride in a tuk tuk through the lanes of Udaipur.
- Admire the collection of Vintage motors at the Classic car museum.
- Capture the moment of the City Place by night from Hanuman Ghat.
- Dine by the lake with on a candle lit table at Ambrai.
- Take a romantic boat ride on the Lake Pichola under the stars.
- If you are a fan of flora, visit the Saheliyon ki baadi.
- Feast like a king on Lal and Dungar Maas.
- Go back in time with the light & sound show in the City palace one evening.
- Have a drink by the sunset at Upre and watch the city change its colours.
- Take a trip to Jagmandir and watch the sunset over the city.
- Pamper yourself with a meal by the lake at the Oberoi Udaivillas.
- Use your bargaining skills and crack a deal at bazars of the old city.
- Re live Hollywood at City Palace where the James Bond film Octopussy was shot.
- Take an evening stroll by the Lake Fatehgarh.
- Take some aerial shots of the city from Sajjangarh Palace.
- Fall in love with Udaipur.