The Udaipur experience

Udaipur was my last stop as part of a 10-day trip of Rajasthan that took me through sandy Bikaner and Jaisalmer, arid and rocky Jodhpur, and mountainous Kumbhalgarh. And when I arrived in the cool, green lake city of Udaipur, I was in for a bit of a shock. A pleasant shock, I must hasten to clarify. Part of the shock was how different it was from the image that comes to mind when one imagines Rajasthan, and part of the reason was how much Udaipur looked like the pictures I had seen of the city. :-)

Udaipur, City of Lakes, Lake Pichola, City Palace

View of the City Palace from the Jagmandir Palace across Lake Pichola

Udaipur was established in 1559 by Maharana Udai Singh as the new capital of Mewar as Chittorgarh, the previous capital, was deemed too vulnerable due to repeated attacks by the Mughals. The next 400 years saw Udaipur fighting for independence from the Mughals, repelling their attacks, signing peace treaties with them, facing attacks from the Marathas, alternately supporting the British or rebelling against them; and finally agreeing to join other Rajput kingdoms in forming the state of Rajasthan after Independence.

The 400 years also saw the city developing into one of India’s prettiest cities with artificial lakes, royal palaces for every season and weather, mansions, gardens, and what not. Having visited it now, I can understand why many foreigners consider this city as a wedding destination. Surrounded by hills on all sides, plenty of lakes, palaces on hire, and a salubrious climate, this is a just about as perfect a location as one can get. Add to this the allure of royals and local Rajput history and you have the perfect exotic quotient that appeals to many.

I spent a couple of days exploring Udaipur, wandering in the alleyways of its old city, touring the famous City Palace (which deserves a post of its own) on the banks of the Lake Pichola, visiting memorials and gardens, stuffing myself with sweets, picking souvenirs and bandhini dupattas, going on boat rides… Presenting some images from my wanderings in Udaipur :-)

Udaipur, City of Lakes, Lake Pichola, City Palace

Sunrise at Hanuman Ghat

Udaipur, City of Lakes, Lake Pichola, City Palace

The beautifully painted entrance to the Ambemata Mandir. Many houses also have such elaborate frescoes drawn at the entrance.

Udaipur, City of Lakes, Lake Pichola, City Palace

The list of Ayurvedic treatments offered was quite scary !

Udaipur, City of Lakes, Lake Pichola, City Palace

A vintage car, reportedly belonging to a member of Udaipur’s royal family, parked at the City Palace

Udaipur, City of Lakes, Lake Pichola, City Palace

A freshly white-washed temple on the banks of the Lake Pichola

Udaipur, City of Lakes, Lake Pichola, City Palace

A tourist boat passes a haveli on the banks of the Pichola

Udaipur, City of Lakes, Lake Pichola, City Palace

The Jagmandir Palace Hotel. This is where Shah Jahan stayed when he rebelled against his father, the Mughal Emperor Jehangir.

Udaipur, City of Lakes, Lake Pichola, City Palace

Rana Pratap Memorial. Maharana Pratap is a much-loved and respected figure in the region and you cannot walk ten steps in Udaipur without a reminder of this brave son of Mewar.

Udaipur, City of Lakes, Lake Pichola, City Palace

Sajjangarh or the Monsoon Palace can be seen as a speck of white on top of the hill in the background. In the foreground is the Swaroop Sagar Lake

Udaipur, City of Lakes, Lake Pichola, City Palace

I just wanted to grab some cushions and curl up with some books and a cool drink in this little nook at the Saheliyon ki Bari

Udaipur, City of Lakes, Lake Pichola, City Palace

The Saheliyon ki Bari is a garden built for the female members of the royal family as a day palace

Udaipur, City of Lakes, Lake Pichola, City Palace

Instruments laid out for a sunset music performance at Lake Pichola

Udaipur, City of Lakes, Lake Pichola, City Palace

Sajjan Niwas Garden, where I had the best afternoon nap of my life on a bed of grass!

Udaipur, City of Lakes, Lake Pichola, City Palace

I love tamarind in all its forms and I can’t tell you how difficult it was to resist these at the Sajjan Niwas Garden

Udaipur is a nice, cozy size for a city and exploring it at my own pace was entirely possible. And the locals were friendly and ever ready for a chat — be it shopkeepers or rickshawalas or  chaiwalas — and an opportunity to share nuggets of their city with me. It was a shopkeeper who pointed me to shop selling the best sweets I have ever eaten. Similarly, it was a rickshawala who took me to a small shop selling bandhani dupattas in unimaginable colours and shades.

Udaipur is a city that is used to tourists from all over and is therefore a very tourist-friendly city. It was a city that felt safe and woman-friendly as well. This was also the only city in Rajasthan where I was not asked “Which country I was from?” In fact, once they got to know I was from Mumbai, I got bombarded with questions about my city and what life was like there. And surprisingly nobody asked me about film stars or films.

Travel fatigue had set in by the time I arrived in Udaipur and while I enjoyed my stay very much, I was glad to be returning home as well. I wonder if my Udaipur experience would have been different if it had been the first place I visited in Rajasthan, instead of the last !

Have you visited Udaipur? If yes, what was your experience like?

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36 thoughts on “The Udaipur experience

  1. No I have not visited Udaipur, before reading this post, but now I want to visit it more than ever. You have clicked some really awesome pictures. I loved the red boat against the cream palace and the musical instruments…

    • Thank you Desi Traveller. This was my first time in Udaipur and though I thoroughly enjoyed my visit there. It is a charming city, but more importantly does not thrust itself upon you.

      The photograph with the musical instruments is one of my favourite photographs from the entire Rajasthan trip.

  2. Dear Sudhagee,
    I love reading your posts. your photographs have the best angles which capture the essence of the places. I had been to Rajsthan last December and the memory of havelis and forts is still etched in my mind. we spent 2 days in Udaipur and stayed in a splendid heritage haveli. Craving to go back again!

    • Thank you so much, Arpana, for such warm words of praise. I stayed in a heritage haveli in Bikaner and I loved the experience. At Udaipur, it was at a budget hotel, which was not too bad. I too want to go back to Rajasthan, but to explore the places I haven’t been to yet — the Shekhawati region, Jaipur, Kota, Bundi, Alwar…

  3. I have heard a lot about Udaipur, and from your pictures and description, I think I would love to be there. Oh, well, someday…

    The pics are gorgeous! And the list of those Ayurvedic treatments is indeed scary!!

    Did you not visit Jodhpur and Jaipur?

  4. I was in Udaipur just a couple of days before you. I guess you went there after Jaisalmer. We regret keeping just one day for this city, it deserved much more. But we made the best of the day we had, roaming here and there all day. Just love this city :)

    • Puru, I think we travelled in opposite direction during our Rajasthan trip. From Jaisalmer, I went to Jodhpur and then Kumbhalgarh and finally to Udaipur.

      And Udaipur was lovely — warm and intimate and want to go back there again after some time, of course. My next foray into Rajasthan will be the Shekhawati region. :-)

  5. I like to travel. Udaipur is a beautiful city in Rajasthan in India. Your post has beautiful scene of places. I like so much. You can also visit more places at breakspots.com. Keep it up and share more valuable thing for us.

  6. lovely post, Sudha ! and it reminds me that I have yet to write of my visit there! my impressions of the city were almost exactly the same as yours… and this was the first place i was alone with samhith, since shankar left early… and at no time did it feel inconvenient or unsafe. in fact, we had a lot of fun that day.. in the zoo and in the garden, lazing around. did u go to sajjahgarh too?

    • Well then, great minds think alike, right? ;-)

      No, I did not go to Sajjangarh as I did not have the time and stayed clear of the zoo too. I spent a lot of time at the City Palace and that is going to be the subject of my next post :-)

      And do write your Udaipur post. Better late than never, I say !

  7. As I have written before that I belong to Rajasthan. I’ve stayed all my life with these havelis, baawris, forts and palaces. I love everything about Rajasthan from it’s cuisine to it’s picturesque landscapes. But the clicks in your blog are class apart. They make me want to go about all those places all over again. The description and the captures are a beautiful read and make you feel so good about it. Thank you so much for this lovely treat.

  8. Your pictures and description make me feel as I am in Udaipur though I’ve never been there! And how nice that you felt safe there traveling alone! Must be one of the very few places in India that a woman can feel safe like that.

    • Actually, I was travelling with a group, but I did much of the exploration on my own as well as the shopping and gorging on sweets. I have travelled to quite a few places on my own in India, and except in Kerala (a place that I still get nightmares about), I have never faced any problems.

  9. Beautiful, breathtaking pics! I’ve been wanting to visit Rajasthan for years now, but I think doing a lot of places in one go is not worth it. Got to leave out something to keep going back to.

    • Thanks, Chattywren. It is a good idea to concentrate on a few places at a time, rather than rush through places. Which is the reason Jaipur was not part of my itinerary. That is for another trip to Rajasthan when I’ll explore the Shekhawati region :-)

  10. Lovely post and photographs Sudha. I liked Udaipur a lot. The lakes and the mountains do make it different from other Rajasthan cities, but the royal elegance is very much there as you mentioned. Did you notice the small shops that sell hand made paper diaries and notebooks with that traditionally styled thread loops binding the notebooks? I got many when I visited…:)

    • Thank you so much, Atula.

      I love paper and always try to buy locally made paper as souvenirs from the places I visit. One shop in a bylane in Udaipur had some paper in fantastic colours and I picked up a couple of sheets for my collection. I don’t use notebooks, so didn’t pick those up. :-)

  11. I had been to Udaipur as a college student years ago. Although we stayed in a hostel with really huge rooms, it opened out onto a ladies bath. I cannot remember much now, but I do remember that the garden was very pretty and secluded with a dense canopy of tree cover. I wish I had taken photographs.
    The photographs of Udaipur are really very beautiful. I remember it to be a lovely city. The photograph with the musical instruments is absolutely unique and amazing.
    As for the tamarinds….did you get to eat the fruit?

    • No, I didn’t eat the tamarind and I can’t tell you what self-control I exercised at that moment :-)

      I don’t know what you will make of Udaipur today, but as you have seen from my photos, it remains a beautiful city.

  12. I visited Udaipur about 8 years ago. We reached the city in the evening. The first thing we did was to walk around the streets and then, we found ourselves at the City Palace – in time for the sound and light show!
    Your post brings back fond memories – the Rana Pratap memorial, Saheliyon Ki Bari… Beautiful city!

    • Glad this post brought back such happy memories. I was unable to see the sound and light show as it was cancelled due to some wedding preparations happening on the site :-( But was able to see and everything else !

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