India’s “City of Lakes” often gets overshadowed by the more popular Jaipur, but Udaipur has a charm and elegance that is beyond description. With royal palaces and garden islands in the middle of its clean and clear lakes, it is a welcome respite from the hectic bustle of the rest of Rajasthan. Udaipur’s list of places to visit is brief but impressive. There is the cluster of lakes, of which Lake Pichola, Fateh Sagar and Jai Samand are most popular.
Best time to visit: September to March is the best time to travel across Udaipur, when the days aren’t oppressively hot, and you can spend time outdoors.
How to reach
By Air: The nearest airport to Udaipur is Maharana Pratap Airport, located 20 km away from the city center. IndiGo operates daily, non-stop flights between Udaipur and Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur and Chennai.
By Train: Udaipur has a vast network of rail, connecting it to the major Indian cities. Some of the common trains that run daily are Chetak Express, Gwalior-Udaipur Express, Bandra-Udaipur SF Express amongst others.
By Bus: The city is well-connected to several towns through deluxe, A/C and state-run buses.
Getting around: Auto-rickshaws and taxis are the most common means of transportation in the city.
Also recommended is 1559 AD, run by Arjun Shaktawat, the man behind the wildly popular Upre, at his family’s Lake Pichola Hotel. While 1559 AD features coffee, a bakery and an al fresco dining area, the latter is a lakeside eatery that serves Rajasthani, Indian and continental fare.
For a full Rajasthani spread, stop by at the Bedla family’s Royal Repast, where the ambience and the food come together to create the most memorable dining experience.
Coffee lovers should visit Jheel’s Ginger Coffee Bar and Bakery or Udai Art Café (which claims to make the best coffee in India), both of which form a strong cuppa, and where the conversation flows across tables.
If you’re looking to treat yourself, look no further than Sheesh Mahal, the fine-dining option at The Leela Palace Udaipur, which features an excellent lal maas and bati dal.
If all that local food gets to you, make your way to Wok by the Lake, at the Radisson Blu Udaipur Palace Resort and Spa, which serves up some sumptuous but straightforward Chinese food.
Rajasthan is known for its block printed fabrics and crowded markets.
Bada Bazaar: Any first-time visitor should be sure to visit the aptly named Bada Bazaar, where you’ll find everything from silver trinkets and jewellery to bolts of fabric, camel bone artefacts to leather bags and more. Don’t forget to bargain before you leave with your spoils for the day.
Bapu Bazaar and Chetak Circle: Other bazaars worth checking out are Bapu Bazaar (where the street food will see you fill your stomach, as you empty your wallet), and the collection of shops around Chetak Circle for local pottery, puppets and more.
Individual stores: When it comes to individual shops, men should make a beeline for Sandouk, The House of Fashion, where you’ll get the snuggest fit for your made to measure suit. Also impressive is The House of Things, where you will find curious for your home - like furniture, tableware and more. Spice lovers should visit the Indian Spice Box, where you can get everything you need to stock your pantry - like tea leaves, spices and oils.
Hook and Irons Cafe and Bar: Its glamorous ambience, stylish décor and luxurious sitting arrangement are going to hold you in awe. You must try their Chicken Burger, Caeser Salad, Pasta Alfredo, Lemon Chicken and Lasagna.
The Wine Rack, Amantra Shilpi Resort: Taste some excellent wines in the stylish outdoor seating area and have a beautiful experience with your friends and dear ones.
Amet Haveli, Outside Chandpole With only 20 rooms, this building was built during the rule of Maharana Jagat Singh II, echoes the design of the sandstone forts of Delhi and Agra. Comfortable and with a grand history stretching back over 250 years, it’s a trip back in time.
Madri Haveli, Chandpole Situated on a hill, in the midst of the old city, with views of Udaipur all around it, this 300-year-old haveli will transport you back in time. The terrace restaurant is an especially great place to grab a meal after a hectic day of sightseeing.
The Oberoi Udaivilas, Haridasji ki Magri Nods to local architecture, lots of pools and a mean whiskey sour are just some of the reasons to stay at this fifty-acre property. A favourite for those that want to be in the heart of the city, but still away from it all. The Oberoi is the top choice among resorts in Udaipur.
Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, Pichola Can there be a better location for a palace hotel than in the middle of a lake? This property in the middle of Lake Pichola has service and rooms fit for royalty.
Udai Kothi, Chandpole Besides the charming owner, Bhuwneshwari Kumari, you can look forward to meeting her two dogs Tope Singh and Lado Singh when you stay at the 64-room hotel. A stunning rooftop pool and gorgeous gardens round out the offerings.
Jag Mandir Palace: Settled majestically on the Lake Pichola on an island; the palace is an architectural marvel adorned with shining white marble tiles and spacious courtyards. Built-in mid-17th century, the palace was used by the royal family as their summer resort.
Bagore ki Haveli: Built-in the 18th century, it’s an old Haveli on the waterfront of Lake Pichola. The Haveli features more than 100 rooms, a huge collection of Mewar paintings and glassworks and traditional costumes. Cultural performance and folk dances are a must watch at this Haveli in the evening.
Mount Abu: A popular hill station settled in the Aravalli range in Rajasthan is a beautiful short escape from the city of lakes. Take a look at the beautifully carved Dilwara temple or enjoy boating in the Nakki lake, the place has it all.
Kumbhalgarh: A trip to Kumbalgarh is highly recommended if you are visiting Udaipur. Kumbhalgarh Fort which is renowned as the world’s second largest wall after the Great Wall of China is the most highlight part of this region. The fort gives a magnificent view of Aravalli countryside, and you can also enjoy horse riding and camping here.
For those looking to take a cycle tour of the city, ask LetsTrip to organise one for you. Depending on your fitness level, they can take you a little outside the town, or offer you a slow city tour. Art lovers should check out Bougainvillaea, which presents art and sculpture including in marble and bronze. Autoheads should also make it a point to check out the royal family’s vintage car collection at the Vintage and Classic Car Collection Museum on the premises of the Garden Hotel. Get there before lunch to ogle at the sleek machines before sitting down for a meal at the hotel’s famed Garden Restaurant, which forgoes a menu in favour of a decadent thali.