Somewhere in my subconscious mind, I had decided that I have to travel somewhere in India when I visit home. In November last year, I finally took the flight to home and met my family after one whole year.
Since I couldn’t plan a trip before visiting, I kept searching for places after I reached home. And just like that, I chose Udaipur one night, booked the tickets, and informed my parents that they are coming with me. Thankfully, they love traveling and agreed to embark on this journey with me.
From Delhi, the best option to reach Udaipur was by Mewar Express, which is run by Indian Railways, on which you can hop-on at 7 pm, sleep off the night conveniently and rise early to the beauty of Udaipur.
Commuting around Udaipur is a cakewalk as the city is quite walkable and if you get tired of walking you can always haggle with three-wheelers to take you back. The moment we came out of Udaipur station in the morning, a dozen autorickshaw drivers came running towards us and one of them agreed to take us to our hotel for INR 100.
At that time I didn’t know that’s the nominal fare for autorickshaws in Udaipur, irrespective of the destination.
Initially, I took an autorickshaw to go everywhere because I wasn’t aware of the Peoples’ bridge right next to my hotel (pictured above). This bridge connects the old & new Udaipur and if you live close to this on either side of the Lake Pichola, every prominent attraction in Udaipur can be reached on foot.
This map sums up the area where most of the tourists stay. Lake Pichola is the showstopper of Udaipur around which you would find Hotels, Cafes, Havelis (mansions), Markets, and Temples. When I was researching for hotels, every other website suggested me hotels near the Chand Pole area (topmost corner of the lake) which is the hub for tourists.
I chose Hotel Sarovar on Pichola because it was on the banks of Lake Pichola and I could get up to this view (see below) every morning.
Plus, I like breakfasts with a view and shamelessly hijacked that table on the terrace every morning. The hotel wasn’t luxurious in the literal sense, but I completely loved my stay here because everything was close by and I had enthralling views of the lake.
A lot of people might suggest a two-day trip to Udaipur but I like to explore every place at a slow pace while basking in the glory, so I stayed for five days.
My exploration started with a boat tour of Lake Pichola which offers views of the city as well as the coveted Taj Lake Palace that stands elegantly in the middle of the lake.
Stepping foot on this heritage property comes with a cost, i.e you have to either book a room for stay or reserve a table at one of their restaurants. I didn’t get the time to do either but this experience would transport you to another period in history and you would receive a royal treatment for sure.
If you want a more serene boating experience, you can head to the Fateh Sagar lake which is a little up ahead and completely untouched by tourism. There are options to stay near this lake as well, but commuting might be a problem due to limited public transportation.
Since I had earmarked all time for relaxation, I decided to visit a maximum of two attractions a day and spend the rest in eating, gazing at the lake or whiling away hours at coffee shops.
Coming to coffee, Jheel’s Ginger Coffee Bar and Bakery, right across my hotel on the other side of the lake, was my favorite because I could see the cafe every day from my room’s window. I regularly gazed at wonderful tourists, young couples, groups of friends lounging out by the lake at twilight. More about Udaipur’s food scene in another post!
Getting to know a city is my favorite part which I accomplish (to some extent) by walking around a lot. And, the streets of Udaipur are plenty interesting, narrow and always full of life! Every day, I would walk by and notice a couple of vehicles struggling to pass through.
I reached another famous attraction, City Palace, while exploring the city on foot one fine morning. Since I have visited tons of forts and palaces across India, I wasn’t really impressed by the palace mainly because it wasn’t well-maintained and they were charging INR 750/person.
On the other hand, I really liked Bagore ki Haveli which is an old mansion situated by the banks of lake Pichola at Gangaur Ghat. This haveli exhibits costumes & artifacts across over 100 rooms. I didn’t get time to go around all those rooms since I reached there around 8 pm when it’s open only for the folk show.
The one-hour folk show, organized by Dharohar Group, at the haveli is worth a detour and I really had a merry time while the group performed a series of dance acts from different parts of Rajasthan in front of a packed room. The whole show was a breathtaking glimpse of the state’s centuries-old cultural heritage. Cherry on the cake was a performance by one 70 year old woman, graceful yet eclectic!
On the following day, we took a boat tour of the Fateh Sagar lake. Well, not really! It was just a ferry ride from the banks to the center of the lake, an island park that goes by the name of Nehru Park. You have the option to go around the lake also on a speedboat, which is just a 2-3 minute long ride and not worth the money.
Fateh Sagar and Nehru Park are a welcome break from the chaos of everyday life in Udaipur. If at any time the city gets too much to handle, head towards this lake.
On our last day in Udaipur, we explored two major tourist attractions, Saheliyon Ki Bari and Shilpgram. Both these places were devoid of tourists on the day I visited, maybe because it was a weekday.
Saheliyon Ki Bari is a fine example of how the Royals lived a luxurious life surrounded by expansive gardens and served by a large number of maids. This vast garden was laid out for the 48 maids of a princess who came to Udaipur after her marriage in the 17th century.
Shlipgram was our last pit-stop where you can combine your yearning for shopping with exploration. The Shilpgram, which means a village for artists, offers everything you can imagine, including apparels, utensils, jewelry, carpets, artifacts, paintings, camel-rides, folk dance shows and the list is endless. Artists from varied regions come to this gram and sell their hand-made goods. Do give this place a visit to support local artisans.
Drop a line if you need any information about Udaipur! I would do a separate post on food and hospitality of this lake city.