Forts, palaces, large public gardens, shaded alleys between houses, the residents’ colourful attire, camels sauntering past…Udaipur holds a veritable treasure trove of experiences for every traveller.
The city blends in erstwhile history and its royal origins with a modern outlook. We compile a definitive guide to help you plan your holiday:
How to reach Udaipur
You can reach Udaipur by flight, road or railways. Read on for details on how to navigate your way using different modes of transport:
* By Air: Udaipur’s Maharana Pratap Airport receives several domestic flights daily, with some direct flights from Mumbai and Delhi. There is no international airport or terminal at Udaipur, so if you are flying in from another country, your flight will arrive at Jaipur’s T1 international terminal. You can drive to Udaipur from Jaipur (the distance is about 393 km) or board a short flight between the two cities. We recommend the latter course of action to save a lot of time and energy for you.
Udaipur airport is well connected to cities like Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, etc. as well as other Rajasthani cities like Jodhpur and Jaipur, by flight. Udaipur travel guides will tell you that the tourist season falls between the months of October and March every year. Flight tickets are hard to come by in the months of December and January, so if you are planning a visit during these months, it is better to book tickets latest by first week of October.
* By Road: Several people prefer not to fly to Udaipur, especially if they are coming from cities like Jaipur, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, etc. It is easy enough to reach Udaipur by road from within Rajasthan. However, you may also drive to the city from other cities like Delhi, Agra, Ahmedabad and even Mumbai.
Do note these distances if you are travelling to Udaipur in your own car or bus:
From Delhi: 663 km
From Ahmedabad: 252 km
From Agra: 637 km
From Mumbai: 760.5 km
From Jodhpur: 266 km
From Bikaner: 507 km
From Jaipur: 405 km
From Jaisalmer: 488.8 km
If you are coming from outside Rajasthan and not from any of the cities mentioned above, then we suggest that you break your journey into two parts. Choose to fly to Delhi, Ahmedabad or Mumbai from your home town, and then drive to Udaipur from there (again, note the distances mentioned above to get an estimate of actual travel time from start to finish). This will save time and you will experience less fatigue as compared to a full road journey.
Be sure to use navigation tools like Google Maps to get the best routes.
* By Railway: There are a number of ordinary and Express trains plying to and from Udaipur. Thus, the options for train travel to this city are many. If you don’t want too many stops along the way, you should opt for Express trains. If you are coming from Delhi, you can book yourself on the opulent Palace On Wheels for a wonderful new experience in train travel.
All trains stop at Udaipur Railway Station, which is located right in Udaipur city. Once you alight at the station, you can find many taxis and autorickshaws to take you to your hotel or resort. However, be sure to haggle first because tourists are normally overcharged for transport here.
What to pack in your bag
How you prepare for your vacation to Udaipur depends on these factors: The time of the year that you are going, the duration of your stay, the kind of holiday you have planned (whether just to relax or an action-packed exploratory trip), etc. The following section is a handy guide on how to pack for your trip so that you can enjoy your vacation more:
* The best time to visit Udaipur: As mentioned above, most people head to Udaipur during the tourist season falling between October and March. This is also the most ideal time to visit this city, since the weather is quite pleasant. However, winter sets in earnest from December to February, so be prepared for chilly nights and foggy, cold mornings. However, you will love your time in Udaipur from October to end of November when the daytime and night time temperatures are quite pleasant. Check a comprehensive Udaipur travel guide for a list of recommended tourist spots, best time of the day to visit, what you can expect to see there, and other associated information. Since you are likely to be out all day exploring, mostly on foot, it is better to pack your bag with canvas shoes (look for thick rubber or cork soles), a sun hat, sunscreen lotion, and loose cotton clothing.
* Duration of your stay: The size of your bag and the number of clothes you take depend on how long you intend to stay in Udaipur. Then again, you might carry just a couple of pairs of clothes for a one-week stay, and launder your clothes – this saves a lot of space in your bag, which you can use to keep your shopping in. These are our tips for packing light: take a medium-sized bag with your essentials (clothes, toiletries, extra pair of footwear) but roll up your clothes instead of placing the, one above the other. Rolling creates a lot more space in your bag. If you are travelling to Udaipur in winter, then you should also carry a fleece jacket, woollen socks, scarf or stole, and a woollen beanie.
* If you have any pre-existing medical condition: Udaipur is prone to extremes of temperature and there may be sudden climatic reversals as well. Certain weather conditions can exacerbate existing medical conditions, like hypertension or respiratory disorders, or even skin conditions like eczema. Meanwhile, hot weather and spicy food can combine to give you digestive disorders. Carry more quantity of any medicines that you are currently on, in case you run out of them during your trip and cannot find a good pharmacy stocking the same brand. Also carry emergency medication such as painkillers, headache and allergy pills, sprays and sun burn cream, among others.
A separate point we must mention is a cautionary tale about the sunlight: Though the day time temperature may be pleasant and there may be cool breezes, the sunlight in Udaipur and the rest of Rajasthan is quite harsh. The sunlight becomes blazing hot as the morning progresses, so apart from a tan, you might also develop rashes and burns on your skin. Carry a herbal aloe vera gel tube to apply on irritated skin, and try and stay out of the post-10 am sunlight as much as you can. Apply a fresh coat of sunscreen every two or three hours to protect your skin from the UV rays. Carry an extra tube of sunscreen lotion in your handbag.
* What you wish to see in Udaipur: The size and weight of your bag depends on the kind of holiday you wish to have in Udaipur. If you’ve seen the city before and are visiting only for a short break, you might probably want to spend more time in your resort than outdoors. In this case, a change of clothing, a bathing suit and accessories should be enough. But if you have a longer trip planned with a lot of sightseeing, then you will need more clothing (carry full coverage clothes that do not expose skin to the sunlight), change of footwear, socks, etc. You will also need a backpack to carry cash, cards, phone chargers, hand sanitizer, face flannel, wet tissues, and so on.
Conduct yourself well
We now come to the section that outlines how you can have a safe and happy Udaipur holiday if you take certain precautions. This entails conducting yourself properly, steering clear of lonely or dark areas, reaching your resort well before night, and general norms of behaviour:
* Nobody enjoys noisy, rowdy visitors. You may have experienced the irritation that comes with having an uncouth, messy guest at home. Now think about what Udaipur residents must feel when the tourist season picks up in the city, and visitors make noise, litter the streets, take photos of people and places without permission, and generally make a nuisance of themselves. Though tourists are welcome, they are expected to observe decorum when they visit the city. Check Udaipur travel guides for a list of silence zones in the city. Also maintain silence in places of worship, near hospitals, educational institutions, etc.
* Be modest in behaviour and dress. Both men and women are expected to dress simply and covering their limbs. Residents may frown upon bare shoulders, exposed cleavage, tight figure-hugging skirts or pants, and shorts worn by women. Some places of worship or spots of archaeological importance do not allow backpacks either. Read up on what constitutes good dressing and follow these norms even if you may not agree with all of them. Women might have to endure some amount of staring, though the city is largely safe for women travellers and even those on solo trips.
* Do not touch the walls, frescoes, paintings and carvings in the places you visit. Many are centuries-old and a lot of effort and cost are involved in preserving them. Some places also do not allow flash photography, and certain parts of places of worship may be cordoned. Stay within the rules outlined for visitors.
* Udaipur travel guides will tell you that bathing suits are good for the pool in your hotel, and not for wearing in public areas.
* You may certainly enjoy eating and drinking to your heart’s content, but take care not to litter the streets with food wrappers, or leave beer bottles by the roadside. When eating at a resident’s house, do not waste any of the food served in your plate, or send away a dish untasted – both are serious affronts.
The best places to visit in Udaipur
Here’s our list of the top tourist spots and Things to do in Udaipur:
* Lake Pichola:
The man-made lake is one of the wonders of Udaipur. Boating on this lake is highly recommended. Many locals visit this area and sit on the banks of the lake awaiting sunrise, sipping on kulhads of chai or simply chatting with each other. The lake has a hill range on one side, and bathing ghats and several old palaces on the other. Peaceful and pretty, Lake Pichola will warm the cockles of your heart and calm your frazzled nerves.
* Ambrai Ghat: Just like palaces and forts, Udaipur abounds in ghats and kunds. The Ambrai Ghat offers a beautiful view of Udaipur and is considered to be one of the most romantic spots in the city. It is located just outside the City Palace and is also close to the famous Hanuman Ghat. If you are in Udaipur with your partner, then you should certainly catch the mesmerising sunset at this ghat. If it’s some quality time you seek with your partner, then this is an important Udaipur tourist place.
* Jagdish Temple:
This is a majestic temple featuring splendid carvings and murals. As per Udaipur travel guides, it was built in 1961 by one of the last kings in the region, Maharana Jagat Singh. It has a black Lord Jagannath stone idol on its premises. The public throngs the temple every day, and particularly during the sunrise and sunset aartis. It is an essential Udaipur tourist place if you are spiritual or religious in nature.
* Eklingji Temple:
This curiously-named temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and draws lakhs of devotees every year during Shivratri. Boasting of a magnificent two-storey structure, it features a pyramidal roof and a carved tower – nobody quite knows how these un-Hindu elements made their way into the temple architecture. There is a series of steps leading to a lake located behind the temple.
* Jag Mandir Palace:
Every Udaipur travel guide lists the Jag Mohan Palace as a must-visit spot in the city – and with good reason. The Palace is a three-storey structure crafted out of yellow sandstone and marble, and it gleams like a flame in the night when the lights in the area are switched on. It features a majestic entrance depicting eight large elephants carved out of marble. It was built in the 1550s by the then Rajput rulers, but was later usurped by the Mughals. It is said that the emperor Shah Jahan used it as a hideout from his enemies.
* Bagore ki Haveli: This is one of the grandest palaces in Udaipur, built to house a whopping 100 living quarters scaled lavishly. It dates back to the 18th Century and is located on Lake Pichola. The palace was used by the royal family, their ministers and companions, and also the domestic staff. It features airy courtyards, many terraces and pretty gardens. Also check out the intricate mirror work and frescos on the walls. Today, the palace is a remastered arts and crafts museum whose most famous element is the puppet gallery.
* Sajjangarh Palace:
On the subject of palaces, you might also want to visit this Udaipur tourist place named after its creator, Maharana Sajjan Singh. The king was a keen astronomer and commissioned this building to be built as the largest observatory of the country. The building indeed lives up to this vision: it is nine stories high and built entirely of stone. It is said that the building also had modern star gazing equipment. However, for reasons unknown, it was later refurbished and converted into a palace for the king and his household.
* Maharana Pratap Memorial:
This imposing memorial is dedicated to – and is conceptualised on – the brave Rajput warrior Maharana Pratap and his faithful steed Chetak. This significant Udaipur tourist place shows Maharana Pratap astride Chetak and ready to charge into battle. The statue is minutely detailed and is carved out of bronze. It was installed in the year 1948.
History remembers this site as the place where the bloody Haldighati battle was fought between Maharana Pratap and Raja Mansingh, the king of Amber province. The battle resulted in the death of the former and scores of officers and soldiers on both sides, along with several animals. The huge amount of bloodshed on the battlefield is said to have permanently stained the soil red. You will love the serenity and mystery of this important Udaipur tourist place.
* Doodh Talai Musical Garden: It would appear that there is a garden or a public park in every corner of Udaipur – and you would be right. Part of this tradition of having the city decorated with public squares and gardens, the Doodh Talai Musical Garden is a garden comprising an interesting formation of rocks and fountains, interspersed with flowering plants. Sound and light shows take place here in the tourist season. Go look at it to tick off an important site of Udaipur tourism.
* Saheliyon Ki Bari:
Since you’re visiting the Garden City of Udaipur, do make a pit stop at the famous Saheliyon Ki Bari. Located on the banks of the Fateh Sagar Lake, the garden was created for the companions of the Maharana Sangram Singh’s queen after she got married to him. The maidens would use the garden away from prying male eyes – nobody was supposed to visit the vicinity when the Queen and her companions were using it.
* Mansapurna Karni Mata ropeway:
Away from the history and sedateness of Udaipur, head to the dazzling Karni Mata Temple at Doodh Talai for a thrilling cable car ride. Take a 5-minute cable car ride up the hill, starting at Deendayal Park and ending at the temple. The cable car offers panoramic views of the city, and you will be entranced by the sunset at the top. But get in line early or pay more to skip the queue – there is always a crowd waiting to try the cable cars, so the wait is long.
Far from statues and monuments and gardens, is the little artists’ village of Shilpgram. The place is like a moving museum, showing the lifestyle and artistic culture of not just Rajasthani artisans, but those from Western India. It was inaugurated by the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, and it was built to create awareness about the lifestyles of tribal artisans and their work, most forms of which are now becoming obsolete. Shilpgram is located about 3 km from the city centre and is an important tourist attraction.
* Vintage Car Museum:
All lovers of old cars should make a stop for this unusual museum. It houses a sizeable collection of old and expensive cars, from Rolls Royces to Mercedes models. Most of the cars in the museum have been sourced from the stables of the erstwhile Mewar families of Udaipur, which were amongst the richest royal families in India. Many of the cars on display were custom-made for their owners, and you can study the plaques alongside to get more information on each car.
* Hathi Pol Bazar: Our list of the best Udaipur tourist places would be incomplete if we did not include the famous Hathi Pol Bazaar. This market is a magnet for those looking for a variety of things to take back home: from colourful juttis to embroidered kurtas, and from junk jewellery to home décor items. If you have just a day free to yourself, we suggest you go to this market and indulge in some retail therapy.
Be sure to book yourself into a luxurious Udaipur resort to savour your desert sojourn even more. Club Mahindra Kumbhalgarh resort in Udaipur is the ideal choice for your dream vacation in Rajasthan’s royal city. You can inquire about the kind of room you wish to book, special season packages, amenities, and so on, before you finalise your booking.
About Mahindra Holidays
Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Limited (MHRIL), India’s leading player in the leisure hospitality industry, offers quality family holidays as also stated by Club Mahindra Resort Reviews, primarily through vacation ownership memberships. While Club Mahindra is the flagship brand offering Club Mahindra Memberships, the other brands offered by the company are – Club Mahindra Resorts Fundays and Svaastha Spa. As on Mar 31, 2019, MHRIL has 61+ resorts across India and abroad and its subsidiary, Holiday Club Resorts Oy, Finland, a leading vacation ownership company in Europe has 33 resorts across Finland, Sweden and Spain. Visit us at www.clubmahindra.com