Udaipur: the romantic city
Known as the Venice of India, Udaipur encapsulates India’s romanticism perfectly with two stunning palaces floating on a lake surrounded by whitewashed havelis and bathing ghats. We stayed for 5 nights and were able to see most places in a relaxed time frame to just sit and absorb everything around us.
Where to stay
- We stayed at the Panorama Guesthouse on the Northwestern side of Lake Pichola. We had a basic room (with a plasma TV) for 900 rupees a night and a lovely view of the lake! It’s within walking distance of all the main locations to visit. We found Panorama the best place to meet people because of the communal area and there were two friendly tortoises who wandered freely around. There is a rooftop restaurant though we discovered they are not always open and the food is below average.
- Another place to stay on the northwestern side is Amet Haveli (home to the amazing restaurant Ambrai). You’ll have to splurge at least 6700 rupees per night, but the lakefront view is more than worth it.
- On the cheaper end there is Udai Haveli east of Lake Pichola prices start from 200 rupees, some rooms include a shared bathroom.
- Or if you really want to go all out then stay at the beautiful Lake Palace. It’s one of the country’s most famous hotels setting you back at least 800 dollars.
Where to eat
On our first morning in Udaipur we found The Little Prince, a lovely little restaurant right by the water. I ordered the Indian breakfast: parantha, pickle, curd and chai. It was so delicious we took our new friends there. We sat outside where you are literally a few metres away from the lake edge, we occasionally got a little splashed by the women beating their clothes but that just added to the whole experience.
My guidebook recommended Jheels Coffee House on the east side of Lake Pichola. We ordered a ‘real’ chocolate milkshakes (we seriously craved chocolate!) and Fran ate a chocolate brownie.
Our favourite restaurant Ambrai was just up the road from our guesthouse. Right on the waters edge, we booked a table for eight of us watching the most beautiful sunset and ate delicious Indian food.
What to do
There’s a lot to do in Udaipur which is why people usually stay here for at least three days. It’s an incredibly relaxing city so you do need to remember to fit everything in.
Lake Pichola – One of the first things we did was book a boat tour around the lake. We got our tickets inside City Palace, visiting the palace first and then running for our boat after. It’s compulsory to wear the life jackets as you are taken around the lake. We stopped off at Jag Mandir and felt sort of stranded. The prices for food and drink were incredibly high so we just enjoyed the view waiting for the next boat to pick us up.
City Palace – You have to visit City Palace! The grounds inside are beautiful and made up of 11 palaces. My favourite part was the women’s quarters as they are so colourfully decorated. To use a camera you have to pay 225 rupees which is way more expensive than the entrance ticket. Fran didn’t pay and was escorted to the front desk after she was caught using her phone. Whoops! We got to see Gandhi’s glasses…. the glasses used in the film and the Trip Advisor certificate displayed proudly behind glass. You won’t be able to miss the incredible views out across the lake and city.
Monsoon Palace (Sajjangarh) – We didn’t go here but I wish we did! It was built by Maharana Sajjan Singh in 1883 for the royal family to watch the monsoon clouds travelling. Unfortunately the palace was never fully finished so it’s supposed to be rather dull inside. The palace is high up on the western side of the city. You can take a rickshaw up there or walk. I heard the views across the city are amazing.
Bagore Ki Haveli – We went here to see the famous dance show which we could hear every night across the water. They put on a number of traditional Rajasthani dances and puppet shows. You have to pay extra for a camera but it’s so worth it!
After spending £160 sending our purchases home in Jodhpur, Fran and I felt we should ease down on our shopping habits. This lasted for about two days… There were so many great shops in Udaipur! I bought a beautiful leather bound journal for 200 rupees and Fran spent about an hour deciding over jewellery. Whilst waiting for her I drank chai and danced around the shop to Balam Pichkari. Best. Song. Ever. The owner was very impressed I knew the first two lines.
How to get there
Bus – Buses are the most popular choice to get into and out of Udaipur. We took a local bus from Jodhpur to the main bus station and transferred over onto a coach taking about 7 hours to reach Udaipur.
Plane – You can fly with Air India and Jet Airways into and out of Udaipur. We flew to Mumbai from Dabok Airport which is 20km east of the city.
Train – The train station is known for being very limited so if you want to reach other destinations in Rajasthan you’ll have to make a few changes.