Barely 2 months after a holiday in Kerala, we planned a trip to Rajasthan. We chose Udaipur as it’s by far the prettiest city in Rajasthan. Indigo started daily flights to Udaipur and so it’s well served. Udaipur is also good for day trips to Shreenathji, Kumbhalgarh, Chittorgarh and Ranakpur. Jodhpur is about 250 kms / 4hour drive from Udaipur and next closest destination in Rajasthan. Rajasthan is a large state and we kept Jaipur and Jaisalmer for another time as they're further away.
We made a conscious decision not to stay in a branded hotel not just due to costs. Udaipur is quite geared for travellers and therefore has many old 'havelis' which owners have converted into hotels. These small hotels provide a unique local experience as opposed to a bland branded hotel experience. One such haveli is now Hotel Mahendra Prakash. It is located on the city palace road and is approx 3-4 minute walk to the gates of the City Palace.
We had booked a superior room (INR 2900 per night). In a haveli, no 2 rooms are the same. We found the one allotted to us quite small and so upgraded to a Delux room (INR 3750 per night). Both are value deals!
Our deluxe room was large and had all the amenities you need and nothing more. A large comfy bed, writing table, flat screen TV, aircon and heater. It was like a home stay and we loved it.
Auto rickshaws are available for local transportation. The autos are not metered and so the drivers tend to rip you off. For Indians at least, autos are not a novelty so best avoided.
Another option is to book a tourist vehicle to take you around. These guys charge you a lump sum for a day and take you to the attractions you want to visit. The charges are negotiable. I was told it would cost approx INR 900 for a day. This is way too much. Again, not recommended.
The last and the best option are Uber and Ola! There are plenty of Uber and Ola cabs in Udaipur and so make sure you have these apps on your mobile. You pay a small premium to fair auto rates but at least you won’t get ripped off. There is also an app called Jugnoo which provides auto rickshaws on an app. In our 5 days, we almost always used Ola and saved a lot of money.
For lunch, Indian travellers and adventurous foreigners should head to a restaurant that serves a Rajasthani thali. Some of the places we recommend are Natraj, Gordhan Thaal and Garden restaurant. All 3 serve thali at approx INR 200 per person and are good. The first 2 are near the railway station and the third is near the Vintage Car museum.
There are plenty of restaurants in the old city near Bagore ki Haveli (one of the attractions). Many cater to foreigners and serve continental food.
The City Palace also has a nice cafe where you can lunch when you visit it. Needless to say, it is expensive and targeted at foreigners.
In Udaipur, you should buy artefacts, handicrafts, leather bags/products, bandhini sarees, mojris (old style Indian shoes; good for Indian weddings). For all of these, head to the area called Hathi Pole. All these will also be available at the City Palace but obviously they are overpriced there. Cabbies also tend to take you to Rajasthan Handloom shops. These shops are fine but at Hathi Pole, you can get them the cheapest. There are plenty of shops selling such products. Hathi Pole is in the old city and a crowded bazaar. I'm sure the souvenir shops at the City Palace and Rajasthan Handloom source their products from the merchants here.
1. Bagore Ki Haveli
At this haveli in the old city cultural performances comprising folk and tribal dance and puppet shows take place. It takes place every evening at approx. 7pm and lasts for 1-2 hours.