“There is an unmistakable air of opulence around Udaipur. A city so picturesque and steeped in fables, it intrigues even the most modern-day travellers with its ever-growing charm, patronized by the regal heirs” EXOTICA Travel Magazine.
If you are doing the Golden Triangle circuit then I highly recommend that you spend at least a day in Udaipur. It’s not the cheapest part of the circuit but you will not be disappointed. It is a seven hour drive from Jaipur with an hour break for lunch. Alternatively, there is an airport located 22 km away from the city centre. Daily trains connect Udaipur with Jaipur, New Delhi, Ahmedabad and Mumbai among other cities.
Udaipur has been known as the “Venice of the East”, “Lake City” or “City of Lakes” because it is built around three lakes that are just perfect to kick back by and watch a few unforgettable sunsets. This stunning and romantic city is home of lots of Palaces which nowadays have been turned into luxury hotels and museums. There are two island palaces situated on Lake Pichola; the Jag Niwas and the Jag Mandir. The Jag Niwas, also called the Lake Palace Hotel is perhaps one of India’s most photographed buildings as it was a perfect backdrop to the finale of the James Bond film “Octopussy” in 1983.
A boat ride around the Pichola lake is a must when you are visiting Udaipur even if your visit is very short. The perfect time is around sunset of course. This is considered the best way to end the day in Udaipur. Hills, palaces, temples, bathing ghats and embankments, surround Udaipur’s famous lake and landmark.
During our boat ride, we managed to stop for a quick tour of the other island palace called the Jag Mandir Palace. Also known as the Lake Garden Palace. The picturesque Jagmandir Island Palace today plays host to 21st century guests. Corporate and leisure travelers, celebrities from all over the world for whom ceremonial parties and mega-events are seamlessly organised. Our tour guide told us that there are only 7 suites in this hotel with astronomical prices if you are planning to stay overnight.
Below is a summary of our two hours boat ride around Pichola Lake and the quick visit to the Jagmadir Palace. Plus enjoy the local topless washing in the lake.
Another must see is the City Palace, the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. Don’t worry if you only have one day to visit Udaipur, you can wake up very early in the morning and head towards to this marvelous Palace and spend half a day there. This is the place where you come face to face with the royal heritage of the Rajasthan State. The main part of the palace is now preserved as a museum with a large and varied collection of glass, porcelain figures and miniature paintings. It also includes the royal residence (Shambhu Niwas as well as two grand heritage hotels (Shiv Niwas and Fateh Prakash)) owned by the Maharana (great king).
Having a child is quite challenging and this is the place where I regretted bringing the umbrella stroller!! Be prepared to walk at least 2 1/2 hours around the whole complex. Not just the walk but the endless stairs that take you to the different art and decor rooms. It feels like a labyrinth with no beginning and no end. I had to push the stroller with Sabrina in it, then after 3 to 5 minutes tell her to get off to go up the stairs then she sat again and continued on this vicious circle for almost 2 hours! Plan ahead if you bring children!! She was kind of entertained with daddy’s smartphone!
My father-in-law had a bit of a hard time too. As he relies on a stick for his balance, going up and down the stairs was quite tiring and intimidating too. Some stairs were very narrow and slippery. The corridors were a bit dark, damp and narrow too. If you don’t appreciate Indian paintings and art, don’t bother to bring your camera as you have to pay extra money for it and I remember it wasn’t cheap. My father-in-law is a real lover of miniature Indian paintings so his efforts were rewarded when we were in a room with plenty of miniature paintings. Peter took the time to make several pictures which I am sharing below. Meanwhile I was trying to entertain grumpy Sabrina. We finished the tour with a visit to Saheliyon ki bari, or the garden of the Maids of Honour, which is a small ornamental garden with fountains, stone elephants and a delightful lotus pool.
Collection of Miniature Paintings
As I mentioned before if you are in a rush, one full day is enough to fall in love with this beautiful city. We had the chance to spend two full days there. On our second day we needed a rest from all the driving and the over-scheduled sightseeing. Not that we were complaining but Sabrina was demanding her horse and camel ride. Horse riding is a particularly popular activity locally and if you are lucky to have extra time, the Aravalli Mountains make for a great place to visit too!