Udaipur is one of Rajasthan’s most incredible and seductive cities of unsurpassed beauty with fascinating palaces, temples and havelis unfolding upon every turn of the head. Fit for a King, and even James Bond, scores of tourists visit and fall in love with the city time and again, leaving with a sense of captivation and fulfillment.
The mystical and majestic Lake Pichola is the focal point of the city, with the Lake Palace blossoming out like an oasis in a desert and attracting tourists and royalty from far and wide. Encompassed by what remains of the city wall is the Old Town and the main tourist drags of Lal and Gangaur Ghat. The rest of the city spreads out across the countryside and into the Aravali Hills, however the atmosphere remains that of a small town.
With an abundance of sites and activities there is never a dull moment in this vibrant city and although being a huge tourist trap there are a wealth of places from where to find tranquility and soak up its magical feeling. Eating is a pleasure here, with everything from classic India cuisine to fine dining, and there are an endless number of rooftop restaurants, all with breathtaking views of the city and lakes.
Shoppers are in for a treat in Udaipur with an array of independent stores offering locally made crafts. The streets around Lake Palace Road and Jagdish Temple are lined with textile, jewellery and art shops. Due to the city’s massive tourist population the local traders bargain hard so be prepared for a tough price battle. Walking east from Gangaur Ghat are the less touristic bazaars and there is an interesting spice bazaar at Mandi Market.
Udaipur is a wonderful city to explore on foot with a collection of narrow, winding streets leading to some of Rajasthan’s finest architecture. Aligning the shore of the lake are some bathing and dhobi ghats where the daily lives of the locals unfolds before the eyes. For the adventurous traveler, the surrounding countryside offers the chance to appreciate the more laid-back village life of the area.
Being one of India’s most popular destinations, the transport links are excellent. RSTC and private buses depart from the bus stand just off Udaipol Road with services to Agra, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, and Jodhpur and long distance runs to Delhi and Mumbai. Train services are limited, however there are still good services to Ajmer, Delhi, Jaipur and Ahmedabad. Domestic flights arrive and depart from the airport, located 25km out of town.
Often referred to as the “Venice of India”, Udaipur is as romantic as it gets in India and. with its unique blend of ancient history, culture and gripping atmosphere, never fails to leave a lasting impression on even the most demanding traveler.
Things to do in
Lake Pichola - The focal point of the city and one of the most picturesque and enchanting lakes of the world. Built by Pichhi Banjara in 1362 and later enlarged by Maharaja Udai Singh II, after flooding Pichola village. Palaces, temples and ghats, which all add to the mystic charm, border the lake. It suffers from extreme droughts, so the timing of a visit is sometimes necessary to appreciate the full beauty.
Jagniwas Island - Home to the Lake Palace Hotel, set in the 1754 Maharajan built palace. Formerly the location for royal summer vacations it has become a site of one of the worlds most luxurious and famous hotels that was used in the James bond movie, Octopussy. Non-guests can visit for lunch and dinner, providing they have enough rupees.
City Palace - Towering over Lake Pichola, the City Palace is one of the architectural masterpieces of Rajasthan and an interesting blend of Medieval, European and Chinese architecture. The complex is made up of a fascinating array of courtyards, pavilions, terraces and hanging gardens, many of which with unsurpassed views of Lake Pichola. Tourists can easily spend a day visiting the two museums, handicraft shops and hotels. Opening times are 7am - 8pm. Entrance Rs25.
Shilpgram - A curious craft and arts village 3km west of the town showcasing the traditions of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Goa and Maharashtra. Venders are happy to demonstrate their work, and then try to sell it, and there are frequent song and dance performances. Opening times are 11am - 7pm. Entrance Rs25 (camera/video Rs10/50).
Sajjan Garh - High up on a far off mountain is a striking fairytale palace that was formerly used as an astronomical centre. More commonly known as Monsoon Palace, it is a little run down, however worth the trip for the spectacular sunset views across the city.
Dharorar - An unbelievable and traditional Rajasthani dance show, performed in the beautiful courtyard of Bagore-ki-Haveli. Marvel at the dancer’s ability to twist, turn and balance an incredible amount of items upon their heads.
Budget Hotels Udaipur
Nukkad Guest House - Fantastic family run hotel with rooms of various sizes and description, but all tastefully decorated. The hotel is housed in the family home of Raju, the manager. Great rooftop restaurant. 56 Ganesh Ghat. Tel (91) (294) 21411403.
Dream Heaven Guest House - Popular hotel in typical Udaipur fashion, with chic furnishings and rooftop restaurant. Hanuman Ghat. Tel (91) (294) 2431038.
Anjani Hotel - Another hotel with great views, swimming pool, recommended restaurant and all elegantly decorated. 77 Gangaur Ghat Marg. Tel (91) (294) 2421770.
Midrange Hotels Udaipur
Hotel Baba Palace - Spotlessly clean hotel opposite the Jagdish Temple and with magnificent views of the city from the rooftop restaurant. 155 Jagdish Chowk. Tel (91) (294) 2427126.
Rang Niwas Palace Hotel - Originally a 19th century palace, this heritage hotel, with a number of elegantly furnished rooms, has a swimming pool, TV lounge, games room and library. Lake Palace Road. Tel (91) (294) 2523890.
Luxury Hotels Udaipur
Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel - This hotel, set in former Maharaja quarters, has everything expected of a luxury hotel, including marble swimming pool. City Palace. Tel (91) (294) 2528016.
Lake Palace Hotel - For those wanting to splash out on the ultimate in luxury, this hotel has it all, from swimming pool to lotus ponds to silk decorations. Tel (91) (294) 2428800.