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.
Surrounded by the Aravalis in south Rajasthan, in the Girwa valley is Udaipur, a city most magical. Each year, parched earth is romanced by monsoon clouds, turning the dry caked lakes into a bubbling blue. Slowly the burnt browns of the hills are taken over by green forests and the skies are busy with a rush of birds. In this oasis nestled in the Thar desert, are some of the most beautiful temples and palaces of the Mewar rulers. Built around Lake Pichola are the finest examples of Rajasthan’s architecture. Admire the City Palace architecture which blends Rajasthani and Mughal styles into a rhapsodic symphony. Visit Sahelion-ki-Bari (Garden of the Maids of Honour) the fountains and orchards provide a pleasant surprise in desert landscape where the Mewar royals would hold lavish parties.
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 Udaipur
By air: The nearest airport to Udaipur is Maharana Pratap Airport, located 20 km away from the city centre. IndiGo operates daily, non-stop flights to 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/Transport in Udaipur
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.
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.
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.
A trip to Kumbhalgarh 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.
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.
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.
Enjoy a boat ride in Lake Pichola, with its many islands, on two of which stand the exquisite palaces, Jag Mandir and Jag Niwas.
The Jagdish Temple is constructed in a distinctive style, with a massive garuda outside and stone elephants which flank the entrance. Inside, the black stone image of Vishnu leaves the visitors in awe and the devout spiritually fulfilled.
Innumerable lakes and gardens, temples and palaces are located within the fortified city. Walk through the lanes and fall in love with this town, the beautiful jaalis (window screens), art which adorn massive doors which lead into the courtyards of these havelis, the shops selling crafts, jewellery, clothes and footwear. Overnight stay at The Royal Retreat.
Art lovers should check out Bougainvillaea, which presents art and sculpture including in marble and bronze.
Auto heads 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.
The festival of Mewar is celebrated in the city of Udaipur with a lot of enthusiasm. It marks the advent of spring and acquired an essential part of the culture and tradition of the city. People residing in and around Udaipur participate in this festival.
The festival of Teej is celebrating in Udaipur marking the advent of the monsoon season. It is held every year during the Hindu month of Shravan.