Romantic and whimsical Udaipur, the city of lakes, is home to Rajputana forts, ornate palaces, resplendent temples, busy markets, stunning architecture, and most romantic sunsets. A place where many plan their dream destination weddings, a place that carries a wide history and culture with it and is known by the names- The City of Lakes, Venice of the East, and The Kashmir of Rajasthan.
With the old part of the city tightly wrapped around the crystal clear Lake Pichola, the Venice comparisons flow deeper than just leisurely boat trips. The author Rudyard Kipling was one of the first to coin the phrase when discussing Udaipur in his 1899 work Letters of Marque. “If the Venetian owned the Pichola, he might say with justice, ‘see it and die’,” he wrote. That’s a slightly crude way of saying the place is impossible not to fall in love with.
Lake Pichola is an artificial lake and was first created for transport reasons, not pleasure. That said, it was constructed in the year 1362 AD, so it seems pretty natural by now. Later generations fell in love with its unrivaled beauty, constructing what is now known as the Old Town and City Palace. Winding streets crammed with Mediterranean-inspired cafes, music shops and local craft stores give way to stunning lakeside views.
The food scene in Udaipur combines the best of East and West in its many restaurants and cafes. There’s a small but bustling marketplace in the center of town. One can find hand-painted elephants or deities on fresh silk and small-carved ornaments. Not to mention the usual explosion of color in scarves and textiles that can be found on sale all over India.
Whether navigating ancient, winding streets, bargaining in bazaars, or taking a sunset boat ride on pretty Lake Pichola, Udaipur is a tough city to get bored in. Read on for everything you need to know about visiting.
- It is recommended to stay at least 2-3 nights to properly explore the city.
- If you plan to shop in Udaipur, be ready to bargain with vendors.
- There are plenty of options for local transport including autos, tuk-tuks, tourist buses, and cabs but you should know the art of bargaining.
- The entry fees to most of the palaces are very high. If you are a solo traveler, the audio guide will work just fine.
- For photography lovers, try exploring city early morning.
Experiencing Udaipur is all about reliving royalty and appreciating the city’s man-made beauty. Udaipur is rightly named as ‘Venice of East’ because it is around the azure lake, hemmed in by the lush hills of the Aravallis, a vision in white drenched in romance and beauty. One of India’s most romantic cities, Udaipur is full of dreamy vistas and experiences. To experience this romantic beauty here are a few things to see.
- City Palace– The city palace symbolizes the Rajput military architecture and Mughal-style embellishment built by 22 different Rajput rulers between the 16th and 20th centuries. Much of it is now a museum, which is spread out through several palaces and is entered through the imposing Tripoli Gate.
Visiting hours: 9 am to 5:30 pm. Last tickets sold at 4:30 pm. (Note that irrespective of day, the ticket lines are huge. So plan accordingly.)
Ticket Prices: The ticket price for the museum and city palace costs around INR 300. If you plan to see light and sound show, you will have to buy separate ticket.
Lake Pichola: Clearly the lifeline of Udaipur, you cannot miss visiting Lake Pichola. Pichola Lake is one of the most beautiful and picturesque lakes of Rajasthan. Located in the heart of the city, Pichola Lake is the oldest and one of the largest lakes of Udaipur with up to 30 feet deep at places. Pichola Lake is enveloped with lofty palaces, kothis, bathing ghats, temples and hills on all sides. How to best enjoy this lake? Take a sunset tour, and you will undoubtedly fall in love with this city.
Visiting Hours: 9 am to 6 pm
Ticket Prices: Regular boat ride ranges between INR 200-300. If you plan to take sunset cruise, it starts from INR 500.
- Jag Mandir: Located majestically on an island on Lake Pichola, the only way to reach Jag Mandir is by a boat ride. This 17th Century architectural marvel is very famous for destination weddings and is very popular spot for film shootings. . The striking feature of this architectural marvel is the spacious courtyard with black and white marble tiles and gardens on the east side filled with flowers
- Sajjan Garh Fort: Also known as Monsoon Palace, the first glimpse that you will get of this fort sitting as a crown on the top of Aravalli hills is from the City Palace. The problem with Udaipur is that whole city comes to life in the evening. Every nook and corner looks pristine and it is hard to prioritize what to see on a sunset. Sajjangarh is no different than Jag Mandir or Lake Pichola.
The best time to visit this place is during sunset. Built in 1884, Sajjangarh Palace, is a hilltop palatial residence in Udaipur overlooking the Lake Pichola. It offers a panoramic view of the city’s lakes, palaces and surrounding countryside. The Fort is also surrounded by the Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary and is located in the outskirts of Udaipur. Cameras are not allowed in the palace.
Timings: 09.00 am to 06.00 pm
Entry Fee: – Individual – INR 80.
Fun Fact: This Palace also has a Hollywood connection it was used in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy as the residence of Kamal Khan, an exiled Afghan prince.
Udaipur maintains a sense of peace and has options for chilled out days as well as busy sight-seeing. But the relaxed vibes, great food and lake views will make you want to stick around longer!
The only spot that truly owns its name-Udaipur, a lakeside paradise of shimmering marble, oozing romance and a European feel you just can’t find anywhere else in India. It’s everything: VIBRANT, cultural, but most importantly, it’s the most relaxed place in India AND is still quite touristy.
Many more stories and facts about to come on your way from THE INDIAN BACKPACK. Stay connected. Till then-
KEEP WANDERING. KEEP TRAVELING.