Udaipur, in Rajasthan, is often called the most romantic city in India because of its famed lakes and palaces. Therefore, it's only natural that they feature prominently in the top things to do in Udaipur. Experiencing Udaipur is all about reliving royalty and appreciating the city's regal beauty.
In addition, check out these places to see around Udaipur. There are many interesting day trips and side trips that you can go on.
How did Rajasthan's royal rulers survive after India became a democracy and their states merged into the Union of India? They converted their palaces into hotels and tourist attractions in order to generate an income. Udaipur's City Palace Complex, belonging to the Mewar royal family, really sets the standard as far as such heritage tourism is concerned. This all-encompassing destination incorporates two authentic palace hotels and the City Palace Museum. Plus, a collection of vintage cars and Jag Mandir, a pleasure palace in the middle of Lake Pichola. It's the largest palace complex in Rajasthan.
Another place of architectural splendor, Bagore Ki Haveli was built in the late 18th century by the Prime Minister of Mewar. It's located on the edge of Lake Pichola, at Gangaur Ghat (which is a relaxing place to sit by the water). After five years of restoration work, the Haveli was converted into a museum. It's a joy to wander through and provides a further fascinating look into the lifestyle of the royal family.
Inside there are more than 100 rooms, courtyards, and terraces, many with beautiful frescoes and fine mirror work. Royal paintings, costumes of the kings, personal items, and traditional Rajasthani arts and crafts are on display. There's also a puppet gallery and turban collection with the world's biggest turban. The Haveli is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. A folk dance performance and puppet show is held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Boat on Lake Pichola and Fateh Sagar Lake
Lake Pichola and Fateh Sagar Lake (to the north of Lake Pichola and connected by a canal) are the most popular of Udaipur's man-made lakes. A boat ride on Lake Pichola gives a whole new perspective on the city, especially the City Palace Complex. Boats depart from Rameshwar Ghat in the City Palace gardens (you'll need to pay a small fee to get inside the City Palace if you're not staying there). You can also explore Fateh Sagar Lake by renting a paddle or motor boat from the bottom of Moti Magra hill.
Watch the Sunset at Ambrai Ghat
Udaipur has many vantage points for photography but arguably the best one is Ambrai Ghat, especially at sunset. It's located directly opposite the City Palace and also fronts the Lake Palace hotel, so you have an unsurpassed view of both as their lights are turned on. To get there, head to the Hanuman Ghat area and keep walking along the road that runs parallel to Lake Pichola as far as you can, past the Amet Haveli hotel and Ambrai restaurant. Do be aware that Ambrai Ghat is a popular local hangout for couples. (Of course, locals know the most romantic spot with the best views in the city!)
The Monsoon Palace (also known as Sajjan Garh) can be seen from Udaipur, perched high on a hill above the city. As its name suggests, it was a favored destination of the royal family during the monsoon season. The palace belonged to the Mewar royal family until it was placed in government hands. Despite its dilapidated condition, it's a popular sunset spot due to its unsurpassed view over Udaipur. Those who are familiar with James Bond's Octopussy movie will also recognize the Palace as the home of the principal villain, Kamal Khan. The drive to the palace takes around 30 minutes and passes through Sajjan Garh Wildlife Sanctuary. Auto rickshaws aren't allowed to enter the Wildlife Sanctuary. So, it's best to rent a car or take the special minivan that departs from the entrance to Bagore-ki-Haveli at 5 p.m. daily.
This imposing white Hindu temple, with intricate architecture and carvings, is an unmissable landmark in the Lal Ghat area near the entrance to the City Palace. It was built by Maharana Jagat Singh in 1961 and houses a black stone idol of Lord Jagannath (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu). The highlight here is the evocative aarti (worship ceremony) every sunrise and sunset.
Take a Heritage Walking Tour
A heritage walk through the streets of Udaipur is a great way to immerse yourself in the City of Lakes and Palaces. The Walk Down Memory Lane tour conducted by Walk and Pedal is one of the best. You'll get to see goldsmiths at work, witness temple rituals, visit quaint shops selling everything from shoes to books, and enjoy panoramic city views. Also check out the dawn and dusk tours conducted by Vintage Walking Tours. In addition, this insightful Udaipur Heritage Walk offered by Virasat Experiences is recommended for engaging with local artisans. It provides an opportunity to meet communities that make jewelry, pottery, and bamboo craft. You'll learn about local traditions, customs, and beliefs too.
Red cable cars ferry sightseers on short trips (five minutes one-way) up the hill from Deen Dayal Park at Doodh Talai (next to the Shiv Niwas Palace hotel) to Karni Mata temple. There's a viewing platform there, and it's another notable location for seeing the sunset over the city. Do be aware that the line and waiting time to buy tickets can be lengthy. Tickets cost about 80 rupees for adults, and there's an option to pay more to skip the line, which is highly recommended.
Shilpgram (meaning "craftsmen's village") is a rural arts and crafts complex, located on the outskirts of Udaipur. It was set up by the government in 1986 to showcase rural life and traditions from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Goa. The complex has huts from each of the states, incorporating their distinctive architectural features. Artisans also sell their wares and perform folk dances. Horse rides and camel rides are offered as well. The complex really comes alive during the 10-day Shilpgram Arts & Crafts Fair in late December.
Udaipur's iconic Lake Palace hotel appears to float in the middle of serene Lake Pichola. It was built by the Maharanas of Mewar as a pleasure palace in the 18th century. The royal family restored and converted it into a palace hotel in 1963, and then leased it out to the luxury Taj hotel group in 1971, as a way to maintain it. A further restoration was undertaken in 2000, making the property one of the finest heritage hotels in India. It has even had a Hollywood moment when scenes from the famous James Bond "Octopussy" movie were filmed there. The only way to visit the hotel is to stay there, so splurge and treat yourself to at least one night of indulgence!
Udiapur is possibly the most romantic city in India. And, the Sunset Terrace at the City Palace Complex is one of the most stunning places for soaking up the atmosphere. With the Fateh Prakash Palace on one side and Lake Pichola on the other, a sunset cocktail accompanied by live music will be a special occasion not to forget. Skip dinner there though, as it's costly.
The distinguished Bedla family served the Mewar royal family, as prime ministers, for centuries. During that time they hosting countless foreign and Indian dignitaries. Their culinary expertise is legendary and you can experience it at their restaurant, Royal Repast. This unusual restaurant is located in Bedla House on Chetak Marg, where they live and run a heritage homestay. The family has revived authentic recipes that have been passed down over generations. They now offer fine dining, linking food with history and heritage, for delighted foodies in their atmospheric courtyard.
Take an Indian Cooking Class
Udaipur is a fantastic place to expand your culinary skills by taking an Indian cooking lesson. You'll learn all about the different spices and secrets to preparing Indian food. Sashi's cooking classes are among the most popular. She has a reputation for being a friendly and lively teacher, and she conducts introductory classes twice a day with her son at her place at Gangaur Ghat. Mamta's cooking classes are recommended too. She offers four different menus, ranging from basic to super deluxe. The classes take place for lunch and dinner daily near Chandpole. Alternatively, Sushma provides cooking classes at the Krishna Niwas Guesthouse at Lal Ghat. You can choose the individual dishes you want to prepare. The extensive options include north and south Indian dishes, Rajasthani classics, and desserts.
Animal Aid Unlimited runs one of India's busiest street animal rescue services and hospitals. More than 75,000 animals have been treated there since the organization was founded in 2002. The sanctuary is home to about 150 animals including cows, donkeys, dogs, and cats. It's a happy place that encourages and welcomes visitors. You'll be able to play with and comfort the animals, and receive a whole lot of love back from them. Tours take place throughout the day at the following times: 10.30 a.m., noon, 2.30 p.m., and 3.30 p.m. Volunteer opportunities are also available.
Make Your Own Art
Udaipur is renowned for its traditional art, particularly the colorful miniature paintings that originated there in the 16th century. It's possible to learn the technique by participating in a workshop, such as the ones offered by Vedic Walks. Jal Sanjhi is another rare 200 year-old art form that can be learned in this painting demonstration. It involves painting on water and is a tribute to Lord Krishna. If you're interested in other types of art and handicrafts, this Spirit of Art tour comprises visits to a block printing center and book binding shop, painting demonstration, and sword making demonstration.
Feeling energetic? The Art of Bicycle Trips introduced bicycle tours in Udaipur in 2013 and they've become a popular way of seeing the city. Their three-hour lakeside city loop will take you through the countryside past the major lakes (Pichola, Fateh Sagar and Badi), mountains and small rural hamlets. On the way, you'll be able to spot various birds and animals. The tour runs daily from 7.30 a.m. to 10.30 a.m. and costs 2,000 rupees per person.
Millets of Mewar embraces the saying, "We are what we eat." This funky healthy food restaurant has gained quite a reputation since it opened in 2011, in Udaipur's Hanuman Ghat area. The menu focuses on using local grains, vegetables, and spices, particularly gluten-free millet instead of rice and wheat. A diverse variety of food is served including Indian street snacks, Continental dishes, soups, salads, juices, and smoothies, And, of course, the classic Rajasthani thali (platter) with a twist! The restaurant is open daily from 8.30 a.m. to 10.30 p.m.
Get Wild at Sajjan Garh Wildlife Sanctuary
Sajjan Garh Wildlife Sanctuary covers five square kilometers around the Monsoon Palace and can be visited on the way. The main attraction is a zoo. As far as zoos in India go, it's not bad, with spacious enclosures spread over a wide area. Electric golf carts can be rented to see all of it at a cost of 50 rupees per person. There are about 15 different types of animals and reptiles including lions, tigers, leopards, sloth bear, deer, ostrich, porcupines and turtles. The sanctuary is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Entry tickets cost 35 rupees per person. Do be aware that many of the animals sleep during the day, so it's best to visit after 4 p.m. You may prefer to give it a miss if you don't have children though.