Romantic and whimsical ,Udaipur will make you fall in love at first sight. The city of lakes is home to Rajputana forts, ornate palaces, resplendent temples, busy markets , stunning architecture , serene lakes and most romantic sunsets . The city has become a very popular destination for marriages , thanks to all bollywood and hollywood films that have been shot here. Yes I am a big James Bond fan and besides all scenic places that this city offers, I wanted to trace the foot steps of James Bond : Octopussy. The city is truly traveler’s paradise and frankly speaking Rajasthan had been on my bucket list ever since I read about it in my history books. Fantasizing about the royals, their heritage and cultural vibrance , I always wanted to experience the royalty of Rajasthan. So here it is Udaipur : A Complete Travel Guide that is surely going to leave an itch in your feet and desire to visit Udaipur.
How to reach :
Being one of the top travel destinations in India , Udaipur is easily accessible from all the major cities.
By Air : Maharana Pratap or Dabok Airport is located at a distance of 22 km from the city of Udaipur. Many domestic airlines connect the city to all the major cities of India including Jaipur, Mumbai and Delhi.
By Train : There are frequent trains which run to and from Udaipur connecting Jaipur, Mumbai and Delhi. For Luxury seekers , the train Palace on Wheels is a very good option . You can find more information about palace on wheels here.
By Road : If you want to drive to Udaipur , the roads are fairly good. There are many private and state buses connecting Udaipur to nearby cities and they are fairly regular.
Note : We drove from Ahmadabad to Udaipur and it took us 4 – 4.5 hrs to reach. To avoid traffic , I will suggest to leave early in the morning.
Best time to visit :
Rajasthan is home to the inhospitable Thar Desert. The summers are really hot and trust me can be really brutal. If you plan to visit Rajasthan I will suggest to do so between October – March. The winter season sees many regional festivals specially Mewar Festival which is surely not to be missed. This festival takes place sometime in March. If you happen to be in Udaipur during this time, it will surely be a treat!
Quick Tips :
- Rajasthan is largest state of India. There are 4 major cities that are recommended - Udaipur, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur. If you plan to visit all these cities , it is recommended to stay atleast 2 nights in each city.
- If you are seeking , authentic Rajputana experience ( ambience of hotel) , try Havelis converted into boutique hotels. They will much more economical than luxury hotels and offer almost the same experience.
- If you plan to shop in Udaipur , be ready to bargain with vendors.
- There are plenty of options for local transport but as I suggested you will have to master the art of bargaining. You will find autos, tuk-tuks, tourist buses and cabs but for the best rates , refer to your hotels as they will give you better indication of rates.
- The entry fees to most of the palaces is very high. If you are a solo traveler , audio guide will work just fine. Else you can save money by just tagging along with groups who would have hired the guide. I know it is a cheap trick , but trust me when you visit Udaipur nothing is cheap :
- For photography lovers , try exploring city early morning. There are a lot of ghats in the city and it is beautiful to capture early morning life of locals on these ghats.
Things to See :
Experiencing Udaipur is all about reliving royalty and appreciating the city’s man-made beauty. Udaipur is rightly named as ‘Venice of east’ because it is around the azure lake, hemmed in by the lush hills of the Aravallis, a vision in white drenched in romance and beauty. One of India's most romantic cities, Udaipur is full of dreamy vistas and experiences. To experience this romantic beauty here are few things to see.
- City Palace : Symbolising the awesome architecture , city palace will be your first stop in Udaipur. The palace symbolizes the Rajput military architecture and Mughal-style embellishment built by 22 different different Maharanas between the 16th and 20th centuries. Much of it is now a museum, which is spread out through several palaces and is entered through the imposing Tripoli Gate. It is worth buying one of the catalogues that detail each room. If visiting take following things into account. You can get more details here .
Visiting hours : 9 am to 5:30 pm. Last tickets sold at 4:30 pm. ( note that irrespective of day , the ticket lines are huge. Add one hour of waiting time to get the tickets.)
Ticket Prices: Audio Tour available in French, Spanish, English and German @250 Rs. . If you plan to see light and sound show , you will have to buy separate ticket.
Note : In olden times the ruler was weighed on his birthday and his weight in gold distributed among his subjects. Yeah talk about royalty ;)
- Lake Pichola : Clearly the lifeline of Udaipur , you cannot miss visiting lake pichola. Pichola Lake is one of the most beautiful and picturesque lakes of Rajasthan. Located in the heart of the city, Pichola Lake is the oldest and one of the largest lakes of Udaipur (3 miles in length and 2 miles in width with upto 30 feet deep at places). Pichola lake is enveloped with lofty palaces , kothis , bathing ghats , temples and hills on all sides. How to best enjoy this lake? Take a sunset tour , and you will undoubtedly fall in love with this city. You will see many locals taking bath in the lake , but I will advise not to.
Visiting Hours : 9 am to 6 pm
Ticket Prices : Regular boat ride ranges between 200-300 Rs. If you plan to take sunset cruise , it starts from 500 Rs. Brush up your bargaining skills , and you might be able to get a better deal on this.
Money Saving Tip : If you plan to go on a sunset cruise in Lake Pichola, club it with visit to Jag Mandir. This will save you around 500Rs. You can take an evening trip to Hotel Jagmandir which will give you an opportunity to return back by sunset.
- Jag Mandir : Located majestically on an island on Lake Pichola, the only way to reach Jag Mandir is by a boat ride. This 17th Century architectural marvel is very famous for destination weddings and is very popular spot for film shootings. . The striking feature of this architectural marvel is the spacious courtyard with black and white marble tiles and gardens on the east side filled with flowers. As you enter Jag Mandir , you will see eight life size white marble structures of Elephants placed near the boat ramp in the island. You can definitely enjoy a good meal at hotel Jag Mandir , needless to say very expensive.
- SaajjanGarh Fort : Also known as Monsoon Palace , the first glimpse that you will get of this fort sitting as a crown on the top of Aravalli hills is from the City Palace. The problem with Udaipur is that whole city comes to life in the evening. Every nook and corner looks pristine and it is hard to prioritize what to see on a sunset. Sajjangarh is no different than Jag Mandir or Lake Pichola. The best time to visit this place is during sunset. I missed doing that since I was there for 2 days and 1 night , so I got to spend only one evening in Udaipur. Built in 1884 , Sajjangarh palace , is a is a hilltop palatial residence in Udaipur overlooking the Lake Pichola. It offers a panoramic view of the city's lakes, palaces and surrounding countryside. Since the fort is located on the outskirts of Udaipur, you will need a car or taxi/jeep to reach the hill top. The Fort is also surrounded by the Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary.
Timings: 09.00 am to 06.00 pm
Entree Fee: - Individual - Rs 80 , Car- Rs 20/65, camera/video- free/Rs20.
Fun Fact : This Palace also has a Hollywood connection it was used in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy as the residence of Kamal Khan, an exiled Afghan prince.
- GanGaur Ghat : Gangaur ghat has different moods to it. If you visit this early morning , you will catch people doing the daily rituals, temples around resonating with chants , evenings adorned with twinkling of lights whereas in day it can become really chaotic and super busy. I visited the ghat early in the morning and I was happy I chose that because there was not much traffic and I was able to walk to the ghat. Also there were no beggars , so yes the place was calm. There is no entry fees for the ghats but yes it gets really crowded at times.
- Lake Fatehgarh : Located towards north of Lake Pichola, Lake Fatehgarh is a manmade lake. It is surrounded by a number of hills on the three sides and Pratap Memorial on the north. The best way to enjoy the lake is by boat ride. I will not say that it is a must do but an early morning or late evening walk around the lake will be more pleasant and save you money as well. A motor boat ride in Lake Fatehgarh cost around 300 Rs.
Lake Fatehgarh is open all days 08:00 am to 04:30 pm
- Jagdish Temple : Built by Maharaja Jagat Singh in 1651 , Jagdish temple is a true example of Indo- Aryan style architecture. Carved with the statues of Gods and Goddesses , Jagdish temple was built in Vastushastra style. The temple is situated in the town not far from Tripoli (Three arched) Gate of the Palace and there is no entry fees to visit the temple.
Udaipur is a paradise for architecture lovers and an incredible destination popular for its formidable monuments and colorful culture. The splendor of its palaces , the history of havelis , the magical narrow by-lanes of the old city and the natural beauty of the lake , - will surely cast a spell on you. Have you been to Udaipur? How was your experience, do share it in comments below. Thank you for stopping by.
PhotoCredits : PHOTOSTAINS