When someone asks me which city in India I would recommend for sightseeing I always answer that every city is different and it all depends on what the person is looking for – old monuments, chaotic streets, modern architecture, cultural heritage, ancient traditions, adventure sports, outstanding landscapes of all types, islands, wildlife, tribal life, pilgrimage etc. and the list in India goes on and on… When you decide to travel in India, the variety of choices is so vast that one has to first understand one’s preferences and then only 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 come back to this place every year! Just thinking about this place makes me smile and recall all the beautiful moments that I spent there. Actually, my first Diwali happened to be in Udaipur where I was with my fiancée (now husband ). Udaipur is charming with its outstanding small and big palaces and because of many lakes it is called by some people the “city of lakes”. Rajasthani culture and tradition is visible everywhere, people are friendly and during the peak season, you can prepare yourself to see many foreigners as Udaipur tourism is constantly growing.
The great history of Udaipur
Udaipur with its old history has a lot to offer if it comes to sightseeing. 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, one character should be mentioned – Maharana Pratap (Pratap Singh) who was the son of the founder of this city. Till today Maharana Pratap is known as one of the bravest and best warriors of all times. In a single blow by his famous sword, he split a horse and his enemy into two, who happened to be a chief of Akbar’s army(during the Haldighati battle). More on him you can find during the visit in City Palace Museum that I will talk about in one of the next paragraphs.
In Udaipur of today, apart from an old part, a new modern part of the city is also being developed. Lying in Rajasthan region, this city 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?
But to start with, the first question – 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). When you are already in 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-start 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 also plenty of good options as the local chefs have mastered the techniques to please European taste buds. Once 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.
Once you have reached Udaipur and if you already have a place to sleep and if you still are not hungry, it is time for Udaipur sightseeing. 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 take a chance and 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
Once you come to this city of lakes, you can also find some places to visit near Udaipur. One of the examples is a village called Shilpgram which showcases a typical rural area of Rajasthan, Goa and Gujarat. Just two-hour drive from Udaipur, in Ranakpur, you can see a beautiful 15th century Jain temple which is a real masterpiece with 80 domes supported by 400 columns. One hour drive from there stands a massive Kumbhalgarh fort which is the second largest wall (36 km length) after The Great Wall of China. And not so far away is the most significant place in the modern history of India and that is the city which witnessed India’s rise as a nuclear power and that is “Pokhran’’. This is the city where India successfully did their nuclear bomb tests.
Udaipur is a great option to visit whether you are with children or not, you go for a honeymoon or you go as grandparents, you love nature but you also enjoy good food. Udaipur has it all. This is a place where you can’t get bored and the view gives you unforgettable memories. Just small advice for you – if you want to spend this Diwali in Udaipur, book your hotel earlier as this place gets crowded during this time of the year and especially Diwali in Udaipur attracts a lot of tourists thanks to the fact that the whole city is lit up in a mesmerizing way during this festival.