Udaipur; the land of the kings, holds a prominent place in history as a romantic place, a reputation that it still holds with its beautiful palaces and lakes. Located in the foothills of the Aravalli Range, Udaipur lies in the southern part of Rajasthan near the Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh borders. It rests in the shadows of the Aravalli Mountains, at a height of 577m. The old city is surrounded by the city wall, on the east side of Lake Pichola thus gives its visitors a feel of being in the mountains.
If you take a step back from all the hustle and bustle of the city, you will see how magical Udaipur really is. In its marvellous palaces, the majestic monuments, the tranquil lakes, the bustle of its ancient bazaars, the fascinating art scene, the quaint old-world feel of its hotels, its genuinely food restaurant and its endless tempting shops Udaipur is still as majestically magical as it were when it was made.
Here are top 20 reasons why Udaipur should definitely be your next destination (in no particular order)
This gracious 18th century Haveli is an architectural splendour. Set on the water’s edge in the Gangur Ghat area this Haveli has since been carefully restored and has 138 rooms set around beautiful courtyards. Some of the rooms are arranged in ways that they evoke the feel of the era in which the house was lived in.The haveli includes an interesting art gallery featuring contemporary and folk art and stunning monuments carved out of polystyrene. The upper courtyard makes an atmospheric setting for the fabulous nightly Dharohar performances of Rajasthani dance. It’s a joy to wander through the haveli and gives a fascinating look into the lifestyle of the royal family. The Haveli is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The folk dance performance and puppet show there from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. are an absolute must watch!
Prices: admission Rs 30
Opening hours: 10am-5pm
This sprawling majestic palace gives you an exclusive insight into how royalty lived back in the days. Construction of the City Palace started in 1559. The various Maharanas since have continued work over this palace for almost four and a half century. The palace thus shows influences of British and Mughal architectures which make this structure a breath-taking work of art. Among all the exhibits portrayed here, the exhibition of priceless royal family photographs, priceless artworks that document the royal history before Udaipur got its first camera in 1857, are prominent. There is also a collection of personal portraits of Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar on display. Recently, the world’s first silver museum and a gallery of royal musical instruments were also added.
Prices: Adult Rs 100, child Rs 50, camera or video Rs 200, audio guide Rs 225, human guide Rs 250
Opening hours: 9.30am-5.30pm, last entry 4.30pm
Sajjan Garh (Monsoon Palace)
Sitting majestically on top of a distant mountain like a castle from a fairy-tale this forgotten and neglected 19th-century palace was commissioned by Maharana Sajjan Singh. Originally built as an astronomical site this palace eventually became a monsoon palace and a hunting lodge. Now in a dilapidated state and owned by the government, people still flock to this castle to catch the lovely view from here especially at sunset. The building itself is empty except for some perfunctory natural history displays. At the foot of the hill is the 5-sq-km of Sajjan Garh Wildlife Sanctuary.
Entree Fee: Indian- Rs 10, foreigner- 80, Students- Rs 2.00
Timings: 09.00 am to 06.00 pm
Lake Pichola is the most popular man-made lake in Udaipur. Limpid and large, Lake Pichola reflects the cool grey-blue mountains on its rippling mirror-like surface. It was enlarged by Maharana Udai Singh II, following his foundation of the city, by flooding Picholi village, which gave the lake its name. This lake, now 4Km long and 3km wide, is home to a few crocodiles that are believed to reside near uninhabited sections of the shore. The lake remains shallow and often dries up in severe droughts. The lake gives a view to the beautiful city palace at its eastern side. You can reach the lakeside through the narrow old-city streets at one of the few dhobi Ghats to the palace’s north or cross the western shore through the Daaiji footbridge.
Price: Boat rides: (10 am – 2 pm) Adult – Rs 200, Child – Rs 100, (3pm-5pm) Adult – Rs500, Child – Rs 250
Opening hour: Boat rides 10am-5pm
Situated one kilometre North of Lake Pichola, this lake is surrounded by hills which make it a very popular hang-out. Originally constructed in 1678 by Maharana Jai Singh and then Reconstructed by Maharana Fateh Singh in 1888 after the heavy rains destroyed the dam, this lake now often dries up if the monsoon has been poor. The pleasant wind along the east bank heightens the experience of the boat or the camel ride that you choose. There in the middle of the lake is also a beautiful park named Nehru Park.
Sunset Point & Machla Magra
This small yet beautiful sunset point park has views of the lake Pichola, Jagmandir and the monsoon palace that is sure to dazzle anybody who comes here. There is also a musical fountain that plays each evening that will win your heart. It’s about 1.5km south from the Rangniwas Palace Hotel on Lake Palace Road. The lower station of the ropeway is right opposite to this park that has a cable car that swings over to Machla Magra hill where the view is even more exquisite. Atop the Machla Magra are a Karni Mata temple and the skeletal remains of the Ekligarh fort.
Crystal Gallery & Durbar Hall
The Crystal Gallery, situated on the South of the City Palace Museum, that overlooks the durbar hall at the Fateh Prakash Palace hotel, exhibits the rare crystal that Maharana Sajjan Singh ordered from F&C Osler & Co in England in 1877. All the items stayed forgotten and packed up in boxes for 110 years when the Maharana died before his consignment arrived. The collection that includes crystal chairs, sofas, tables and even beds are extraordinary and quite extravagant. The exquisite antique jewel-studded carpet has to be seen to be believed. Although the admission fee is a tad hefty, the fee also includes entry to the grand Durbar Hall and tea or a soft drink in the Gallery Restaurant adjoining the Durbar Hall or on the Fateh Prakash Palace Hotel’s Sunset Terrace. Tickets are available at the city palace gates or the Crystal Gallery entrance. Photography is prohibited.
Prices: adult- Rs 500, child – Rs 300 (Including audio guide & drink)
Opening hours: 9am-7pm
Vintage & Classic Car Collection
For all the vintage car enthusiasts, the Maharana’s car collection will make a fascinating stop. The collection not only shows us the beautiful vintage cares themselves but also gives a us a sneak peek into the luxurious lives of the royals. The former State garage has 22 splendid vehicles, which includes beautiful 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom used in Octopussy, the Cadillac convertible that Queen Elizabeth rode to the airport in 1961 and a seven-seat 1938 Cadillac complete with parda system.
Entree fee: Rs 150 (Without lunch), Inclusive of lunch or dinner Rs 250
Opening hour: 9am-9pm
Shilpgram is a crafts village that was inaugurated by Sri Rajiv Gandhi in 1989 as a crafts village. This contrived yet interesting village is set in a dusty rolling countryside. Shilpgram has 26 traditional village houses from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Goa and Maharashtra, some with glittering mirrored interiors, and craft exhibits. Traditional dancer and artisans groups that are ready to perform as you approach are an excellent demonstration of the art and culture of the place. The best time to come here is during the mela (the fair) in the last 10 days of December during which time it’s a spectacle with hundreds and hundreds of performers from all over India attending the fair. The Shilpgram, however, remains quietly deserted on the offseason times so choose the timing wisely.
Prices: Indian- Rs 20, foreigner- Rs 30, camera- Rs 30
Opening hours: 11am-7pm
Bharatiya Lok Kala Museum
Bharatiya Lok Kala Museum, located 300m north of Chetak Circle in the north of the city, is a private folk-art museum which has an uncanny similarity to the Dalek entrance tower. The museum exhibits dresses, tribal jewellery, turbans, dolls, Musical instruments, masks, paintings and the ever so famous puppets. There is a one-hour puppet show that is an absolute must-see in the museum. The puppet show is staged at 6 pm.
Prices: Indian – Rs 20, Foreigner – Rs 35, Camera- Rs 10, Video – 50, Puppet shows, Indian – Rs 30, Foreigner – Rs 50
Opening hours: 9am – 5.30pm
This beautiful Indo-Aryan temple was built by Maharana Jagat Singh in 1651. The magnificent architecture of the temple is evident from the moment you enter through the steep elephant flanked flight of steps. What takes you away next is the majestically carved main structure that enshrines a black stone image of Lord Vishnu as Jagannatha, the lord of the universe. There is also a brass image of the Garuda in a shrine facing the main structure. The money donated here is used to feed the hungry beside the northwest corner shrine.
Opening hours: 5.30am-2pm & 4-10pm
Krishna Ranch (Horseback riding)
If you are in a mood for some adventure and horse riding is something you adore, then, this beautiful ranch situated in the countryside near Badi village 7km northwest of Udaipur is the place for you. Own and run by the owners of Kumbha Palace guest house, Mr Dinesh Jain leads most trips himself. You can also avail the attractive cottages available here.
Telephone: 91 294 2430875
Price: 2hr- Rs 900, 4hrs – Rs 1500 per class
Opening hours: 8.30 am
Panghat Spa (wellness and beauty)
Shiv Niwas Palace and Jagmandir Island Palace hotels have this luxurious spa that offers a huge range of Ayurvedic massages and therapies. The Jagmandir spa situated in Jagmandir rightly called Swarg ki Vatika, offers well-built jacuzzi, sauna, steam and chill shower rooms.
Prices: Various spa and wellness treatments start from Rs 1500
Opening hours: 8am-8pm sculptures and also is equipped with a sauna.
Mountain Ridge Resort (Hiking & mountain climbing)
Pioneering country hiking around Udaipur, Mountain Ridge is a British-run home-stay that is situated 6 km west of town. The guides here are local tribal people that lead the trips that include lunch and a ride back to town. If wanted, a scrumptious breakfast can also be included in the trips.
Prices: Half-day trek per person Rs 650
The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur
The Oberoi, Udaivilas stands on the 200-year-old hunting grounds of the Maharana of Mewar. Spread over a majestic fifty acres, the hotel features Pavilions and domes that are inspired by the grand architecture of the palaces of Rajasthan. The property boasts a huge area that includes a twenty-acre wildlife sanctuary with deer and wild boar which gives a magnificent view across the hotel’s verdant gardens. Located on the banks of Lake Pichola the hotel boasts of three restaurants, 2 heated outdoor pools and a luxurious spa. The hotel is surrounded by beautiful courtyards fountains and gardens that make this hotel splendour.
Taj Lake Palace
Strategically located in the middle of the Lake Pichola, with the Aravalli Mountains and city palaces as a backdrop the Iconic Taj palace built with white marble, features majestic architecture that leaves its patrons completely awestruck! It is really hard to believe the floating vision in marble is actually real. It looks as if a luminous palace is slowly emerging from the mist. The decorative gilt mouldings, the sculpted marble columns, and the fine fretwork screens were enough to impress even the Maharaja who held court in this very room in the 1930s. The hotel offers a full-service spa and programmes that are customised to suit your needs. All the rooms here come with a butler service. Indulge in a Guided heritage walk followed by a glass of sparkling wine offered by the hotel that will give you a truly local experience.
Shiv Niwas Palace
This opulent hotel is situated in the part of the palace which was originally the palace’s guest quarters. The hotel has majestic pool courtyard, bar and lovely lawn garden with a 30 m long mural depicting a royal procession. Some palatial rooms in the hotel are filled with fountains and silver. You can come here just for a drink, meal, massage or a swim in the gorgeous marble pool in the hotel. (Non-guests are charged Rs 300 and are allowed from 9 am to 6 pm) Rates drop drastically from during April to September.
The Palace on Wheels
This luxury train journey through Rajasthan is the world’s most popular train ride that takes you on a journey not only through the cities but also through time. Embark on this ride of a lifetime the way the Maharajas did. The train starts from Delhi and ends in Agra running through the city of Jaipur, Ranthambore, Udaipur, Jaisalmer and the mighty Mehrangarh. The train takes you on a majestic journey which includes 9 dinners, 6 lunches, 7 dinners, airport transfers (day 1 and 10 only), fully air-conditioned deluxe cabin on board the palace on wheels, 2 nights heritage maidens hotel new Delhi on a twin share basis, transport in air-conditioned luxury coaches, sightseeing and site entrance fees as specified, expert bilingual guides and a ton of pampering! This fairytale ride of a lifetime awaits you.
The beautiful city of Udaipur has long been a major tourist attraction. The intricately connected lakes, the majestic architectural wonders, the breath-taking views, the marvellous palaces, the temples, gardens, forts, everything here scream the testimony of the city’s heroic past. Therefore, even though places of interest may vary from person to person, to experience the real splendour of Udaipur, one has to spend at least three to four days in this city. No matter what your interests are, this city will never ever disappoint you. The land of the Maharajas still stands tall and proud with open arms inviting everyone to join in on the royal journey of the glorious, exquisite and magnificent by-gone era of India.