Rajasthan is a vast state and has a lot to offer. One city that stood out for me is Udaipur which has a charm of its own. Enticing with its many gorgeous lakes, the splendor of its palaces, havelis (a traditional multi-storied residence with ornate decor), and its soothing ghats, Udaipur wins hands down for me. The history buffs are in for a treat at the City Palace, backpackers and couples too would love the laid-back and romantic vibe at the lakes. It’s impossible to not fall in love with the city.
Branded as the “City of Lakes” and “Venice of the East”, Udaipur is not the stereotypical Rajasthan. You don’t see camels walking on streets, or residents of the city in traditional Rajasthani attire. Udaipur is modern and evolved but at the same time has preserved its rich heritage and culture. This mix of modernity and tradition makes it a city you just can’t get enough of.
- 1 When is The Best Time to Visit Udaipur?
- 2 How Do You Get to Udaipur?
- 3 How to Travel Around The Lake City?
- 4 How Long Should You Stay in The Lake City?
- 5 Where is The Best Place to Stay in The City of Lakes?
- 6 The Best Places to Visit in Udaipur
- 7 Best Places to Dine at Udaipur
- 8 Shopping at Udaipur
- 9 Getaways Near Udaipur
- 10 Travel Tips
When is The Best Time to Visit Udaipur?
The best time to visit and travel the city of lakes is from November – February when the weather is cooler and deemed more pleasant compared to other months. You need to pack for both weather conditions with cotton clothes to withstand the heat in the day and do keep a few woolens for the nights.
How Do You Get to Udaipur?
Udaipur is easily accessible from all major cities in India.
By Air: The Maharana Pratap Airport is at a distance of 25 km from the city of Udaipur. Almost all domestic airlines offer flights from major cities in India to the city of lakes.
By Rail: Udaipur is well connected to major cities by train.
By Road: The national highways to Udaipur are in good condition. Private as well as state buses regularly move in and out of the city. Cabs are also a viable option to travel around Rajasthan, however owing to big distance between the cities, it would take a hit on your pocket.
How to Travel Around The Lake City?
A lot of places in the city can be explored on foot. For the rest, below are two options I recommend:
I like to travel at my own pace which makes hiring a bike/activa the best mode of transport for me.
For the ones who are not comfortable with riding a two-wheeler on narrow and busy lanes of Udaipur, you can hire the services of a rickshaw wala who will take you to the tourist spots you wish to go to. Be mindful to double-check the rate with more than one rickshaw.
Bike Cost: INR 350 – INR 400 per day. Rickshaw – INR 600-800 for visiting 4-5 spots in a day
How Long Should You Stay in The Lake City?
This should vary from person to person depending on how you like to explore and what you’re looking for on your visit to the city. Udaipur has something for all travelers. I’d say a minimum of 3 days without traveling to Chittorgarh or Kumbalgarh, majestic forts which are at a distance of more than 100 km from Udaipur. Having said that, if time is not a constraint, a week in the city should make the experience more fulfilling.
Where is The Best Place to Stay in The City of Lakes?
Udaipur has a ton of accommodation options for budget travelers and luxury seekers as well. Some hostels I can recommend are Zostel, Hide-In Hostel, Backpacker Panda, and The Hostel Crawl.
For the luxurious experience but at a much more economical price, you must try Havelis converted into boutique hotels. Some that I can recommend are the Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel and the Chunda Palace.
Udaipur is also known for its luxurious hotels and resorts. The Leela Palace has been voted the best hotel in the world by Travel+Leisure in 2019.
The Best Places to Visit in Udaipur
Start Your Trip With The City Palace
This architectural masterpiece was the creation of Maharana Udai Singh II who moved from Chittorgarh to his newly developed city of Udaipur. The gigantic Palace will give you an insight into the rich history of the Mewar kingdom. It has 11 smaller palaces within, some of which are now converted into museums or hotels. You should give yourself atleast 5 hours to go around the sightings within the palace.
The City Palace was developed and further extended over a period of 400 years by the 42 rulers of the Mewar dynasty. Do get a local guide to understand the nuances of the Palace and its blend of Rajput, Moghul, and European architecture.
Ticket Charges for the Palace including the museum is INR 330. Guide Cost – INR 250
Sunset Boat Ride at Lake Pichola
A boat ride at the picturesque Lake Pichola is a must-do. The lake surrounded by the Aravali hills offers spectacular views with vibrant colors of the lake. The sheer size of the lake makes it difficult to imagine it being a man-made lake built in 1362. It is surrounded by hotels like the Leela, Udai Villas, Oberoi, and the Lake Palace Hotel.
A ride in a government boat at the lake does not halt at the Jag Mandir (a palace in the middle of the lake) and lasts for a maximum of 30 minutes.
Cost of Ride on a Government Boat – INR 150 (10am – 2pm), INR 250 (2pm – 5pm)
The private boat ride by the City Palace includes a stopover for an hour at Jag Mandir which has restaurants with scenic views. Jag Mandir has earned a reputation for being of the top locations for destination weddings in India. The Lake Palace is open to only guests and Jag Mandir is the closest it gets to the lake palace feels.
Cost of Ride on a Private Boat – INR 400 (10am – 2pm), INR 700 (2pm – 5pm)
Beautiful hotels adorn both sides of the ghat (a flight of steps leading down to the river). Ambrai Ghat is a sight to behold at the golden hour when the sky changes colors and soon Udaipur is lit and at its elegant best.
These remarkable memorials were built for various members of the Royal House of Mewars. At a distance of 100 meters from the Cenotaphs is the Ahar Museum which has artifacts supposedly from the 10th century.
Entry to the Cenotaphs is free and a nominal charge for entry at the museum.
Cultural Dance Show at Bagore ki Haveli
Located on the edge of Lake Pichola is an 18th-century mansion that boasts over 100 rooms and several corridors, courtyards, and balconies overlooking Gangaur Ghat. The building is restored into a museum and displays the modern art, royal paintings, crafts, and costumes of the Rajasthani culture.
The Haveli also conducts a Rajasthani folk dance program – Dharohar, which is held every day from 7 pm to 8 pm. The seats fill fast so pre-book!
Ticket Cost – INR 80
Use of Phone or any camera – INR 150
Gangaur Ghat is by Bagore Ki Haveli and a 5-minute walk from Hide-In Hostel where I spent a few days. The ghat had a different vibe almost every time I paid a visit. Early in the morning, there are people chanting and rituals are carried out. While the ghat is flocked by pigeons in the day, it has a change of visitors by evening. People swarm the ghat and occupy any possible space available to admire the glittering lights reflecting on the lake.
The temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu was built in 1651. It is a three-storey temple with intricate carvings of Hindu deities and animals. If you are someone who appreciates carefully crafted sculptures and culture, this is definitely a place to visit.
The Monsoon Palace also known as Sajjangarh Palace is a fine place to catch the sunset. This white marble palace is situated at a height of 944 m above sea level and offers panoramic views of the city. Initially, the palace was an astronomical center built by Maharana Sajjan Singh. After his death, it was used as a hunting lodge by the Royal family.
I was so smitten by the City palace that I dropped Monsoon Palace from my plans and went back to see the pride of Udaipur.
Ticket Cost – INR 60
City of Lakes – Fateh Sagar Lake
It is one of the popular lakes in Udaipur that is frequently visited by both the locals and tourists. Fateh Sagar is another magnificent man-made lake in the city. It consists of three islands; 2 of which are parks while the third has a solar observatory. The lake was first built in 1678 by Maharana Jai Singh. After the floods, a dam was constructed by Maharana Fateh Singh on the lake and it was renamed after him.
In my opinion, take the boat ride at Lake Pichola to admire the many monuments and hotels in and around the lake including Jag Mandir. Not that Fateh Sagar has any dearth of luxury, but the true beauty of the lake can be witnessed during sunrise and sunset. This is when the place is spirited and zestful which calls for a joyous walk around the lake. Then there is the craving for street food by the lake which is popular for pakoras and kulhar chai (tea served in a traditional clay cup).
City of Lakes – Badi Lake
The city of lakes has a hike to offer too. Badi lake hasn’t caught people’s attention yet and is rarely visited by even the locals. The scenic views at the top of the Bahubali peak are a sight to behold. It’s a fairly easy 20-minute hike and definitely deserves a mention.
Saheliyon ki Badi
These palatial gardens were made for the Queen – Maharana Sangram Singh’s wife and her 48 maids. The landscaped gardens are massive and are adorned with many fountains. If you need a break from palaces and lakes but want to keep the romantic vibe going, this could be an option.
Best Places to Dine at Udaipur
The charisma of Udaipur lies in its enchanting lakes along with a heavenly dining experience at its lakeside restaurants and cafés. Some that stand out are Baro Masi, Upre & Ras-Leela.
Amongst the popular restaurants for local delicacies is Natraj which is regarded as the best in Rajasthani Thalis. Other than restaurants and cafes, Udaipur is quite famous for its street food. Some of the must-try items are Samosas, Kachoris & Jalebis.
Shopping at Udaipur
Rajasthani art & craft is renowned across the globe. Traditional handicrafts, Rajasthani clothes, jewelry, bags, pagdis (turbans), mojris (ethnic shoes), lampshades, and books with handmade paper are all unique and gain the interest of travelers. The popular markets to shop for contemporary and traditional art are at Hathipole, Badi Pol, and Bapu Bazaar. These markets are reasonably big and I recommend half a day to explore.
Getaways Near Udaipur
Udaipur offers two separate day-trips to nearby locations.
One is a trip to Chittorgarh – where the foundations of the Mewar kingdom were laid. A day trip to Chittorgarh with a travel agency will cost INR 600 – INR 1000 depending on the car you hire. A private vehicle will fetch around INR 4000.
The second option will take you to three different locations: Kumbhalgarh, Ranakpur Temple & the battlegrounds of Haldighati. Kumbhalgarh will tick visiting the second largest wall in the world off your list while Ranakpur temple will entice you with its carvings and Haldighati will take you on a culinary adventure.
- Spend a night or two in a hostel as there are many comfortable budget-friendly options to choose from. It’s also nice to interact with other travelers giving you the opportunity to learn about the lesser-known attractions in Udaipur. Try to stay a night atleast at one of the luxurious hotels/heritage havelis as they are at pretty decent costs. It is totally worth the price!
- Try to attend the Light and Sound show at the City Palace at 7 pm. It is conducted in both English and Hindi.
- At the City Palace you can use the services of a regular guide or simply use an audio guide.
- All sightings in the city of lakes require a lot of walking around. Ensure you are comfortable in your shoes.
- If you plan to commute in rickshaws or shop at the markets brush up on your bargaining skills.