‘Venice of the east’, ‘The city of Lakes’, ‘The White City’, are just some of the many names that have come to define Udaipur. Udaipur is one of the most charming cities you will 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, the city still has 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 5 major lakes, the city of lakes, also receives a moderate rainfall as opposed to its other Rajasthani counterparts.
Udaipur has a certain sense of royalty it is home to some of the best luxury hotels in the country. The Udaipur City Palace clearly stands head and shoulders above it’s 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 with its unassuming charm.
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. Surrounded by mountainous terrain and a 6 kilometre wall to protect the city from the many attempted sieges of the Mughal Empire. 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, 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 have found a home in Udaipur for centuries. The famous ‘Ghoomar’ dance is just one of the many contributions towards Rajasthans and specifically Udaipur’s culture.
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.
The Shilpgram on the outskirts of the city is a rural arts and complex which gives you an insight into the various art forms of the rural tribes of Rajasthans. 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. Pichola is the main lake of Udaipur and for obvious reasons, it is the biggest lake in Udaipur and 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 the Lake Pichola, The Taj Lake Palace is one of the best rated romantic hotels in the world. If you can’t afford the Taj Lake Palace or the Udaivilas, Pichola also has ‘another floating palace’; The Jagmandir Island Palace, 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, Jag Mandir and the Monsoon Palace)
How to get to Udaipur
By Air – The Maharana Pratap Airport is situated just on the outskirts of the city and due to the touristic relevance of the city, The city is well connected to major metros like Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. Connectivity with other tourist hotspots like Goa, Cochin and Jaipur has also increased steadfastly.
By Rail – 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.
By Road – Udaipur is about 16 hours away from both Mumbai and Udaipur and the quality of roads for most parts is really comfortable and easy to drive on. The Eagle Bus service from Bombay to Udaipur is not only economical in pricing but is very comfortable as well.
Best Time to travel to 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 we’d 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 best time to explore Udaipur and to experience the city for its festivities 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 are 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). Longer distances like a visit to Kumbhalgarh fort are best planned with a full day taxi hire in mind.
Breaking stereotypes about Udaipur
All of Rajasthan is an Arid / dry land – While this isn’t as much a stereotype as it is true, Rajasthan is an arid state and is home to the largest desert in the country. 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 5 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.
Go check out
Udaipur City Palace – Stunning palace. Check. Beautiful backdrop of the 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 is quite possible that you will be staying really close to the city palace during your time in Udaipur.
Lake Pichola – 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 Jag Mandir in close proximity while being flanked by the City palace on one side starting into the never ending Aravali mountain range.
Jag Mandir – The other floating structure in Lake Pichola which is not the Taj Palace. The garden palace of Jag Mandir was originally built as a resort for the royal family, to throw lavish parties, Today the Jag Mandir is popular tourist site that also houses a popular restaurant run by the family for special dinners
Monsoon Palace / Sajjangarh – Built to be able to look into the monsoon clouds that would signal the advent of the monsoon season on 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.is a must 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, Bagore ki Haveli is now run as a present day museum and cultural centre 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.