When I am asked which Indian city I recommend for sightseeing I always tell that each Indian city is different and hence it all depends on what the individual is looking for – old monuments, chaotic streets, modern architecture, cultural heritage, ancient traditions, adventure sports, beautiful landscapes, islands, wildlife, tribal life, pilgrimage and so on… When one decides to travel in India, the variety of choices is so vast that one has to first understand one’s preferences and only then one should choose the cities to visit. But there is a city that I praise to everyone – and that city is Udaipur. Udaipur is a city of my dreams and I revisit this place every year. Just thinking about this place makes me smile and recall all the beautiful moments that I had there. Actually, my first Diwali happened to be in Udaipur where I was with my fiancée (now husband ).
The great history of Udaipur
Udaipur is a historical city and in terms of sightseeing, it has a lot to offer. Established in XVI century, the city is full of palaces built in different eras. Thanks to a very favorable geographic location, it largely stayed safe during the Mughal invasion. When we talk about the history of Udaipur – Maharana Pratap (Pratap Singh) must be mentioned. He was the son of the founder of the city. According to many, Maharana Pratap is one of the bravest and best warriors of all times.
Udaipur is full of outstanding arts, great folk music, dances and amazing cuisine. There are many places to see in Udaipur, but the good thing is that from the typical Indian standards, the sightseeing area is not so huge.
How to get to Udaipur?
There are many choices –by car (this is my favorite mean of transport if it comes to travelling –not only one can see the holiday destinations but one can also enjoy the landscapes on the way), by plane (there is a good connection from Delhi, the prices are relatively cheap and the flight lasts only for around 1 hour and 20 minutes), by train or by bus (takes much longer, but makes you enjoy the landscapes and if you want to save some money it is also a good option). To commute within the city, I suggest taking an auto rickshaw which is perfect for all those famous beautiful narrow streets of Udaipur.
Hotels in Udaipur
Just like there are plenty of places to see in Udaipur, there are also hundreds of hotels to choose from. And everyone will find something suitable in different budgets, size and locations. There are lots of cute small hotels that offer a remarkable view of the Pichola Lake. Rajasthani style painting, colorful walls and artistic classic furniture – all these you can find in most of the small boutique hotels in Udaipur. But this is not everything – there is something more… Udaipur is famous for its remarkable 5-star hotels and actually some of them can be rather described as 7-star hotels. In 2015 Udaipur Oberoi Udaivillas hotel has been chosen as world’s number 1 hotel. Apart from this one should definitely see Taj Lake Palace – location on the island provides you not only remarkable experience but also breathtaking view. Even some filmmakers have chosen this place to shoot their movies. Leela palace will make you stunned with its out of the ordinary interiors and high-quality service.
Restaurants in Udaipur
Dining in Udaipur is also superb. Traditional Rajasthani cuisine is diversified and everyone will definitely find something suitable. If you feel like eating something European, there are plenty of good options as the local chefs have mastered the techniques to please European taste buds. While you are in Udaipur, you should go to the rooftop restaurants as the view from there is breathtaking. Enjoy your late dinner or supper observing the other side of the lake and sipping some tasty sweet lassi. One of the best options to do both is by visiting Jagat Niwas ( a hotel with a very beautiful roof top restaurant) – eating in a cross-legged position can be an interesting experience.
City Palace in Udaipur will not only provide you a spectacular view ( a great option for photographers) but the museum inside can show you some furniture, paintings and antiques of the royal family. City Palace includes also a 5-star hotel and the royal residence of the Maharaja which you can also admire from the outside. To have even a better view, I recommend choosing a cable car that can take you to Karni Mata temple – there is a special platform from where you have the view of the whole Udaipur (another great spot for the photographers). Tickets are not so expensive and by paying slightly more you can have the cable car all for yourself. On the other side of the city, you can find the Monsoon palace on a hill – an old building which is not so nicely maintained, but has a huge historical significance and the views are outstanding.
Inside the city you can find a Hindu temple – Jagdish Mandir. A high staircase will take you to a beautiful place with amazing carvings where every sunset and sunrise you can experience the ancient Hindu prayer ceremony otherwise known as ‘aarti’. Another temple which is worth seeing in the city is Kesariyaji which is full of artistic touch. If you want to relax and just walk around, I recommend Sahelion – ki – Bari garden which is kind of famous among the tourists. Lotus pool and some amazing marble elephants make this place even more stunning. There are many more places to visit in Udaipur, I just have chosen a few of them, but what you should also experience is at least a small lake cruise (you can also visit Jagmandir hotel, a part of the five star hotel that is run by the royal family), ride on the camels that are nicely decorated and don’t forget to just walk around the narrow streets, see some houses painted in blue with Rajasthani style painting and just interact with the locals as they are very kind and nice to talk with.
Places to visit near Udaipur
When you come to the ”city of lakes”, you can also plan to visit the places near Udaipur. One of the recommendations is a village called Shilpgram which showcases the typical rural side of Rajasthan, Goa and Gujarat. In Ranakpur, which is just a two-hours drive from Udaipur, you can see a beautiful 15th century Jain temple which is a real masterpiece. It has 80 domes which are supported by 400 columns.
There is also a massive Kumbhalgarh fort which is located at just an hour drive from Ranakpur. This fort has the second largest wall (36 km length- after The Great Wall of China).
And here is a little tip- if you want to spend Diwali in Udaipur, book your hotel well in advance as the city gets very busy during the festival.