It isn’t for nothing that Udaipur is probably my favourite city in India. Replete with dreamy lakes, palaces and gardens, this picture-perfect Rajasthani town beckons lovers, poets and families in equal numbers. Easily accessed from Udaipur Airport and Railway Station, a holiday here begins and ends with the impossibly beautiful Lake Pichola. Ideal for a trip of three to five days, greenery-rich Udaipur is most pleasant and cool in October-November, which is when you can also participate in the Haldighati Heritage Run, being held just 40 kms away. Use this list, based upon my own travels in Udaipur, to plan your holiday to the land of puppeteers and churma and look out for accommodation options at the end.
1. Stay on the banks of Lake Pichola
All the best hotels in Udaipur are situated around Lake Pichola, which is the centre of the city. Wake up to the serenity of the lake and watch the spectacular sunset over its shimmering, palace-studded water.
2. Visit Swaroop Sagar just before sunset
On your way to Fateh Sagar Lake, you will pass Swaroop Sagar, a beautiful little spot where you can have a breather and enjoy the view of the dazzling lake, second only to Lake Pichola.
3. Take the last boat ride at Fateh Sagar Lake
Udaipur is indeed India’s Venice and Fateh Sagar Lake at dusk is an ethereal sight best experienced on the last boat ride of the day. Get there earlier to visit Nehru Garden and return at dusk.
4. Explore the idyllic Nehru Garden
Accessible only by boat, Nehru Garden is an idyllic spot in the middle of Fateh Sagar Lake. It is a wonderful picnic spot and has a restaurant as well.
5. Take a stroll at Saheliyon ki Bari
Udaipur is also a city of gardens and Saheliyon ki Bari is among the prettiest. Come here for a morning stroll and enjoy the fragrance of the myriad flowers. The lotus pool and Victorian statues are some of the remarkable sights in this garden.
6. Take your kids to Gulab Bagh and Zoo
Gulab Bagh is another beautiful park and in fact the largest in Udaipur. Also known as Sajjan Niwas Garden, it adjoins a zoo full of interesting birds and animals like bears, deer and even a tiger.
7. Enrol for the Haldighati Heritage Run
- Event date: 9th October 2016 (Sunday)
- The Haldighati Heritage Run is part of the Vedaan Run To Breathe Run series in association with Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)
- Four ASI Heritage Sites are present alongside the Haldighati Run Route namely Haldighati Pass, Chetak Memorial, Rakht Talai and Badshahi Baug
- There will be runs in the following categories: 2.5Kms, 5Kms, 10Kms and 21Kms
- It is only 40 km from Udaipur, 14 km from Nathdwara and approximately 300 km from Jaipur/Ahmedabad
- It is the landscape where Maharana Pratap of Mewar fought with the Mughal Army in the epic battle of 1576
To participate in this run and showcase your pride in Indian heritage, visit http://www.runtobreathe.org/.
8. Go for a cable car ride
A not too expensive yet exciting activity in Udaipur is the cable car ride along the Mansapurna Karni Mata Ropeway. At the end of the short ride, an old temple awaits your exploration. But the real draw is the splendid view of the city and mountainside.
Get your dose of culture
9. Watch a live Rajasthani folk show at Bagore ki Haveli
Every night at 7 pm, Bagore ki Haveli on Hanuman Ghat Road transforms into a treasure trove of Rajasthani folk art. Arrive early to grab front-row seats for this show including traditional music, dance and puppetry.
10. Immerse yourself in folk art at Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal
Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal or Folk Museum is worth a visit not only for its varied collection of Rajasthani and Indian folk art but also the free puppet shows playing on an hourly basis. There is a small entry fee.
11. Shop for handicrafts at Shilpagram
One of the lesser known attractions in Udaipur is Shilpagram, a government-funded model of a handicraft village, complete with artisans, musicians, dancers and little cottages typical of Rajasthani villages. You can buy an array of attractively priced jewellery, clothing, carpets and accessories here.
12. Trek up to Monsoon Palace (Sajjangarh)
Rajasthan is India’s land of the kings and home to some of the most exquisite palaces from bygone eras. Monsoon Palace or Sajjangarh is set atop the Aravalli Hills and affords stunning views of Fateh Sagar Lake and Udaipur city. In the evenings, you will be able to spot the palace from any point in Udaipur thanks to its golden illumination.
13. Rediscover royalty at City Palace
Located near Lake Pichola and at the city centre, the City Palace is a must-visit while in Udaipur. A huge complex comprising 11 small palaces built in granite and marble, City Palace will take a while to explore.
Food for your soul
14. Have breakfast at Café Namaste or Cafe Edelweiss
Dedicate your lunches and dinners to Rajasthani food and your breakfasts and tea-time snacks to the charms of Cafe Namaste or French Bakery and Cafe Edelweiss or German Bakery. You might also strike up a conversation with a foreign tourist while you sip on your coffee and tuck into some apple pie.
15. Enjoy an atmospheric dinner at Ambrai or Whistling Teal
Rajasthan is famous for both its vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare and a visit to Udaipur is incomplete without dinner at Ambrai, the beautiful garden restaurant at Amet Haveli and a thali meal at Whistling Teal. At Ambrai, don’t miss the lal maas and methi papad ki subzi.
16. Pay homage at Jagdish Mandir
As you exit Hanuman Ghat Road, you will come upon the majestic Jagdish Temple, whose architecture is so marvellous that you can spend hours running your palms along the walls. If you’re in Udaipur during a festive time, the area around the temple will be abuzz with activity and decorations.
Extend your trip
Add a day for Chittorgarh Fort (116 km) and another for Kumbhalgarh Fort (85 km), both easily accessed by State Transport Buses (RSRTC).
17. Chittorgarh Fort
Just a two hour bus ride away is Chittorgarh Fort, one of the most impressive fort complexes in India. It is a World Heritage Site and was once the capital of Mewar. Set aside half a day to inspect its palaces, reservoirs and pillars.
Budget: Lal Ghat Guesthouse
I stayed here in 2013 and loved its location on the banks of Lake Pichola and proximity to City Palace although the accommodation was humble.
Boutique: Jagmandir Island Palace
Get the experience of staying in a palace in the midst of Lake Pichola that comes with its own spa, luxury dining and museum.
Luxury: The Oberoi Udaivilas
I dream of staying in this luxury palace resort some day, renowned for its views of the lake, idyllic gardens and temperature-controlled outdoor pools.
Explore Udaipur on your own with auto rickshaw tours or choose from many Rajasthan tour packages.
Many more free travel guides await you when you become a part of our mailing list: