Rajasthan being one of the most culturally rich state of India has always been one of the most popular and most visited tourist places in India. Its main cities Udaipur, Jaipur, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur draw thousands of tourists from all over the world every year. Udaipur is all the more closer to my heart for its abundant greenery, immense lakes, resplendent Rajputana forts, local craft selling market and romantic sunsets.
In this post I am not covering everything you can do in Udaipur because I did not go to all the places. I just had two days and it was not enough. This was my first visit to Udaipur and I definitely want to go back. I was there to attend a wedding and I did not want to come back without exploring Udaipur. Thankfully a friend of mine took me around on his bike which is the best way to explore Udaipur. He also showed me some of the best places and in town and made me have the best street food.
Udaipur is called the “Venice of East” and rightly so as it is surrrounded by azure lakes and hemmed with lush hills of Aravalis. Its full of serene natural beauty and architectural wonder which definitely takes you back to the era of Rajas and Maharajas.
The palace symbolises Rajput military architecture and Mughal style in development built by 22 different Maharanas between 16th and 20th century. Most of it has been turned into a museum. It showcases the Royal armour, swords, treasure, is endowed by the vintage charm and every painting has a story to tell. I personally recommend taking a guide along in order to understand the history behind these magnificent palace.
Visiting hours- 9am – 5.30pm
It is one of the most picturesque lakes of Rajasthan. Located in the heart of the city, it is the oldest and one of the largest lakes of Udaipur. Interestingly, Lake Pichola is not a natural lake. It was built by a Banjara (gypsy) in the 1300s. He diverted the water from a tributary of Kotra River by building a dam across it. It has lofty palaces, kothis, bathing ghats, temples and hills around it. Taking a sunset tour in a boat is an enthralling experience and it’s serenity will completely consume you. I was lucky enough to stay in Lake Pichola Hotel. It has one of the best views. The lazy person that I am, I actually woke up to witness the sunrise and it was phenomenal. Since I stayed at the Lake Pichola Hotel my view was even better.
Gangaur Ghat or Gangori Ghat is a main ghat situated near the waterfront of Lake Pichola in Udaipur. It’s a very blissful place and it offers a breath taking view of lake pichola, mohan mandir, Taj Lake palace, Jag Mandir, during the night lake pichola hotel gets lit up and it’s reflection can be seen well in lake water from Gangaur ghat and the Kartik poornima celebrations are spectacular here. You can just stroll round this place enjoy the cool breeze, feel the environs and retrospect. It’s frequented by photographers for the pigeon shots. There are a flock of Pigeons here!
Bagore Ki Haveli
Bagore ki Haveli is located on Gangaur ghat. I didn’t get the time to explore this but I did not want to miss Dharohar which is performed here. Basically it’s a folk dance show which you must not miss. It’s very relaxing to just sit and watch something like this at the end of the day. What I took away from this was the performance of a 72 year old woman who danced on glass pieces with around ten pots on her head. She was impeccable. The tickets to this 80 INR and the timings are 7-8pm So I would suggest that you go to Gangaur ghat around 5:45pm, stroll around and then queue up to get the Dharohar ticket.
This artificial fresh water lake is about 10 km from Udaipur. On the banks are few artistic pavilions. The atmosphere is very calm and serene. This is a place not much visited yet a hidden gem. The majestic hills surrounding the lake and the low fair of motor boat ride make it a massive hit. To be honest I had no idea I was going to see such surreal places in Udaipur because I had done no research at all before traveling there. You can reach here by a hired two wheeler or car which is easily available in the city. The drive from the city to Badi lake is around 30 minutes.
Bahubali Hill simply adds up to the beauty of the Badi lake. Once you reach Badi lake trek upto Bahubali hills for this spectacular view. The trek is easy but be careful since it’s uphill. Does not take more than ten minutes to trek up. It provides a spot to all the wanderers to adore the magnificence of the Lake and the Aravali Hills surrounding the place. A few tea stalls have been opened up there recently where items such as chips, tea, water bottle, Maggi are sold. You can absorb the beauty of the place while snacking but it was sad to see how people have littered such a beautiful place. Do not throw plastic bottles and chips packets in such spots, carry it along with you and dispose it in the dustbin.
Ambrai Ghat is walking distance from the Lake Pichola area. This was my very first spot in Udaipur! I just sat there and watched the sun go down. This place is very famous among photographers as you can get some the best sunset shots here. You will get the best views of Udaipur from this ghat!
* You should spend at least 3-4 days in Udaipur to explore it properly.
*If you want to capture the true Rajputana essence then you must stay at Havelis converted into boutique hotels. They are more affordable at the same time of equal luxury.
*When you go for shopping in local markets, bargain with shopkeepers and put forward 1/3 rd of the MRP. Haggling is the way!
*For local movements there are many options like autos, tuk-tuks, tourist buses and cabs but for best rates must take advice of your hotels. They would have you in that matter.
*If you know how to ride a two wheeler, its the best way to explore Udaipur. There are many bike rental places around.
*The entry fees to most of the palaces is very high. A guide is also needed to brief various stories connected to each room or artefact. Could try to tag along with the group who has already had a guide if you are a solo Traveller.
WHERE TO STAY
I would suggest to stay in one of the haveli hotels to get the feel of the city while you are there. I stayed at the Lake Pichola Hotel and absolutely loved it. The service could be better but the food and the view from the hotel made up for it. You can find plenty of AirBnBs and hotels which are pocket friendly. Make sure you stay in the old city area, as you can walk around easily to the main attractions. Also, wherever you stay you should take the lake facing room for at least one night. the view is worth it.
FOOD IN UDAIPUR
Let me first tell you about my street food experience. Thanks to my friend for taking me to all the best places in town! You wouldn’t believe but I have had the best Vada Pao in Udaipur. You have to find Chundawat Vada Pao well known as Local Kala Mandal wala Vada Pao and try the Vada Pao there. I had two! You cannot come back from Udaipur without having Kachoris from Paliwal. They have the best Dal Kachoris. I didn’t try the Samosa because I was too full but they known for Kachoris and Samosas. Then there is this place called Jagdish restaurant which serves great breakfast. Although I did not have breakfast there, my friend forced me to have Poha there. It is heaven for Poha lovers! I have something for the ones with sweet tooth too, Lala Mishthan near Clock Tower is your place to go for the best quality of sweets in Udaipur. All the street food recommendations are from a local’s point of view and if you’re into street food you must try these places!
There are many cafes in Gangaur ghat but I totally recommend going to Jheel’s, it has the best lake view and I also liked the savouries and beverages here. I dined at the very famous Upre restaurant one night since I was staying in Lake Pichola Hotel, to be hosnest, I found it pretty hyped! The view is marvellous but I have had better Rajathani food in other places.
Best Time to Visit
Rajasthan being home to the desert is not really suitable to visit in summers. Sun can really be harsh and scorching. Best time to visit Udaipur is between October to March. During these months the weather is very pleasant during the day with slight chill in the evening. Also many regional festivities take place which are a treat to watch and you would take home an unmatched experience.
HOW TO REACH
Udaipur is accessible from all major cities of India.
By Air- maharana Pratap aur dabok Airport is located at a distance of 22 km from the city. Flights from major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai Jaipur are easily available to this Royal City. I chose to travel by air.
By Train- there are frequent trains connecting the city to major Indian cities like Jaipur, Delhi and Mumbai. For a lifetime experience”palace on wheels” is a marvelous option it is luxury personified with the backdrop of Royal splendor
By Road- there are many private tourist buses connecting with airport to neighbouring states and cities. Condition of road is also very good and would pose no problem.