‘Venice of the East’, ‘The City of Lakes’, ‘The White City’, are just some of the many names that have come to define Udaipur. This is possibly one of the most charming cities you’ll ever visit. Surrounded by the Aravalli ranges that fade into oblivion, Udaipur is home to beautiful lakes, royal palaces, and formidable forts. What makes the city special is despite all its beauty and its touristic connotations is that it still retains an irrepressible old-world charm.
The notion around Rajasthan is such that it’s considered a dry, desert state in terms of the terrain and the weather. Udaipur in its unique little way dispels this arid notion. The city is home to five major lakes, and this city also receives moderate rainfall as opposed to its other Rajasthani counterparts.
Udaipur has a certain sense of royalty. It’s home to some of the best luxury hotels in the country. The Udaipur City Palace clearly stands head and shoulders above its peers and the Sajjangarh Fort which offers panoramic views of the city.
Associated with romance and indulgence, Udaipur is a city that will have you falling head over heels in love. Find out what makes it so in this Udaipur travel guide.
History And Culture Of Udaipur
Founded in the 16th century by Maharana Udai Singh II, Udaipur as a location acted as the perfect parcel of land to be the capital of the Mewar Kingdom. Mountainous terrain and a six-kilometer wall protected the city from the many attempted sieges of the Mughal Empire. So much so that Udaipur as a city never fell to an invading force.
Udaipur’s strategic location in the Girwa Valley made it a stronghold to thwart off any attacks on the city. That and easy access to Lake Pichola and a favorable placement between Gujarat and Delhi made strong arguments in favor of Udaipur being named the capital of the Mewar Kingdom.
In terms of the culture of Udaipur, the city is home to the Shilpgram Mela (Artisan fair) and the Mewar festival. The white city also borrows a lot of culture from the Bhil tribe which has found a home in Udaipur for centuries. The famous Ghoomar dance is just one of the many contributions towards Rajasthan’s and specifically Udaipur’s culture.
The Shilpgram on the outskirts of the city is a rural arts complex which gives you an insight into the various art forms of the rural tribes of Rajasthan. It’s also an accredited ethnographic museum for its ability to display the life of the ethnic tribes of Rajasthan.
Lake Pichola and Fateh Sagar are the two main lakes of Udaipur. The biggest lake in Udaipur, Lake Pichola is in close proximity to the Udaipur City Palace.
Pichola is also home to the Taj Lake Palace which is a floating restaurant in the middle of the Lake. Along with the Oberoi Udaivilas which is also located near Lake Pichola, The Taj Lake Palace is one of the best-rated romantic hotels in the world. If you can’t afford it or the Udaivilas, Pichola also has ‘another floating palace’: The Jagmandir Island Palace, which makes for a fantastic setting to have an unforgettable dinner in Udaipur.
Udaipur City Palace is where history, architecture and pop culture come together. Built over 400 years with contributions from all the rulers of the Mewar Kingdom, the Udaipur City Palace has come to be the crowning jewel of Udaipur’s tourist attractions.
The palace complex gets its flamboyant appearance from a fusion of Mughal and Rajput architectural styles and is one of the most intriguing palaces you will explore. The city palace also provides a panoramic view of all the other historic monuments in the city (Lake Palace, Jagdish Temple, Jagmandir, and the Monsoon Palace).
Food In Udaipur
The cuisine in Udaipur is primarily vegetarian owing to the large Jain and Hindu diaspora of the city. The dishes are similar to what you’d find elsewhere in North India. The Rajasthani thali in Udaipur, while not very different from other cities in the state, is likely to have some dishes that are unique to Udaipur. A word of caution though, the locals of Udaipur prefer their dishes to be on the spicier side, so if you can’t take the heat, you can request them to go easy on the spices.
How To Travel To Udaipur
Getting To Udaipur By Air
The Maharana Pratap Airport is situated just on the outskirts of the city and due to the touristic relevance of Udaipur, it’s well connected to major metros like Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkata. Connectivity with other tourist hotspots like Goa, Cochin, and Jaipur has also increased considerably.
Getting To Udaipur By Train
Udaipur is not very well connected by rail. The train options even from major cities like Mumbai and Delhi aren’t many, and those that are available are almost always sold out. We recommend traveling by road or flying into Udaipur.
Getting To Udaipur By Road
Traveling to Udaipur by road is a viable option, especially if you’re coming from the closest metro cities of Mumbai (752 km), and Delhi (662 km). You’ll easily get buses that will get you to Udaipur. As the roads are decent, you’ll have a comfortable, albeit long, journey.
Best Time To Visit Udaipur
Udaipur is a pleasant city to visit even in the monsoons as the city gets some amount of rain as compared to the rest of the state. Having said that, avoid traveling to Udaipur in the summer. We strongly recommend skipping the months of April to June as the weather is at its hottest during this period.
From July onwards, with the advent of a mild monsoon, Udaipur gets really pleasant and is lush with green making it a beautiful time to visit. The ideal time to explore Udaipur and to experience the city for its festivities is anytime between October and March as the weather is extremely pleasant. Diwali and Holi are both widely celebrated in Udaipur and you should try being in Udaipur to partake in the celebrations.
Getting Around Udaipur
If you’re in the old city, walking around or getting an auto is the best way of going around. For longer distances Ola and Uber both have great service within the city (Stick to the autos in the old city as it’s really small). For longer distances, like a visit to Kumbhalgarh Fort, we recommend that you hire a taxi for the whole day.
Breaking Stereotypes About Udaipur
“All of Rajasthan is an arid/dry land.”
While this isn’t as much a stereotype as it’s true, Rajasthan is an arid state and is home to the largest desert in the country. But Udaipur, situated in southern Rajasthan, is very different from the perception of what Rajasthan looks like.
The city has a lot of nature and rolling hills surrounding itself and is home to five lakes. The Sajjangarh part of the city, where the Monsoon Palace is situated, is extremely green and is zoned as forest land with animals like tigers, hyenas, panthers, deers, and nilgai inhabiting the sanctuary. Not bad for a dry state, eh?
Go Check Out
Udaipur City Palace
Stunning palace. Check. Beautiful backdrop of Lake Pichola. Check. Intriguing complex to explore the city palace and by extension the fabled history of the city. Check. Panoramic viewpoint of the city. Check. Need we say more? It’s quite possible that you’ll be staying really close to the City Palace during your time in Udaipur.
A boat ride around Lake Pichola at sunset is one of the simpler joys of exploring Udaipur. Check out floating structures, like the Taj Lake Palace and the Jagmandir in close proximity while being flanked by the City Palace on one side starting into the never-ending Aravalli mountain range.
The other floating structure in Lake Pichola which is not the Taj Palace is Jagmandir. The garden palace of Jagmandir was originally built as a resort for the royal family to throw lavish parties. Today, the Jagmandir is a popular tourist site that also houses a popular restaurant run by the family for special dinners.
This palace was built to be able to look into the monsoon clouds that would signal the advent of the monsoon season in the Mewar Kingdom. The surroundings of the Monsoon Palace today are home to the Sajjangarh Biological Park.
The Monsoon Place is a great place to catch a panoramic sunset of the city and the Aravalli mountains.
Bagore Ki Haveli
Bagore Ki Haveli is a palace/museum located on the waterfront of Lake Pichola. It’s a must-visit for the culture-seeking traveler. Built in the 18th century to emulate the City Palace, Bagore Ki Haveli is a great representation of the artwork and the skill of the craftsmen of that era. Today, it’s run as a museum and cultural center for an insight into Western India. You can attend the dance show in the evening to get an insight into the local Rajasthani dance forms and their roots.
How Many Days Are Enough For Udaipur?
2-3 days will be enough for you to explore and experience the major attractions of Udaipur. But you can always extend your stay and visit the places at your leisure.
How Do I Plan A Trip To Udaipur?
Here’s a three-day itinerary for your Udaipur sightseeing trip:
Day 1 – Start your trip by visiting the Udaipur City Palace, and then exploring the ghats surrounding Lake Pichola. Visit the Jagmandir Island Palace, and if you’re willing to splurge, spend the night at Taj Lake Palace!
Day 2 – Set out to visit the magnificent Kumbhalgarh Fort, which is about 80 km away from Udaipur. Once you’ve returned, go shopping for local handicrafts at Hathipole Market.
Day 3 – Visit Shilpgram, which is about 8 km away from Udaipur, to get a glimpse into the rural life of western India. You’ll get to buy a lot of handicrafts too! Make sure you don’t miss out on a trip to Sajjangarh Monsoon Palace too.
What Is The Famous Food Of Udaipur?
Dal Baati Churma – This dish is famous throughout Rajasthan. Consisting of a lentil soup and balls made out of wheat or jowar, you’re unlikely to overlook it when visiting Udaipur.
Laal Maas – Meat lovers won’t want to miss this mutton dish made with yogurt, red chilies, and garlic. Keep in mind that it’s likely going to be very spicy!
Ghevar – A must-have for those with a sweet tooth. Ghevar is made out of refined flour and soaked in sugar syrup. If you’re not watching your waistlines, feel free to indulge!
Is Udaipur Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! Much like the rest of Rajasthan, Udaipur has a valiant history and a rich culture. Its natural beauty, magnificent structures, and the romantic lakes with palaces in them sets Udaipur apart from its counterparts.
Which City Is Better Jaipur Or Udaipur?
Jaipur being the capital city of Rajasthan is naturally more crowded and noisy than Udaipur. While Jaipur has more monuments, Udaipur boasts its many lakes and palaces. From a tourist’s point of view, Udaipur is a tad bit more appealing!
Which Place Is Better To Visit Jodhpur Or Udaipur?
The blue city of Jodhpur is charming, thanks to its many landmarks including the intimidating Mehrangarh Fort, the opulent Umaid Bhawan, and the Jaswant Thada. Udaipur has its own share of palaces and forts too, but what sets it apart is its many lakes. Jodhpur tends to be much hotter throughout the year while Udaipur’s weather is milder.
To conclude, both cities have their own charm, and in the end, it depends on what you’re looking for!
Yes, cab services like Uber and Ola are available in Udaipur.
Is Udaipur Safe At Night?
Yes, Udaipur is generally a safe city at night, also for solo female travelers. However, as a general precaution, we’d advise you to avoid dimly-lit areas and shady alleyways after dark.
What Should I Buy In Udaipur?
Pagdi – One of the iconic things about Rajasthan are the vibrantly-colored Pagdis the men wear. So why not buy one as a souvenir?
Mojadi – These Rajasthani shoes have a feeling of royalty about it, and can go really well with ethnic wear.
Sculptures – Figurines of Rajput kings and Hindu gods and goddesses, made in typical Rajasthani style, can really amp up the aesthetic vibe of your home. They can also be a fond reminder of your trip to Udaipur.