Udaipur is a relatively small city by Indian standards and lacks a mass transportation system. There aren't any local trains, and local buses only operate in a limited capacity. Shared auto-rickshaws are the main form of public transportation in Udaipur. They compete with local bus routes, as well as provide extra connectivity. Plans are in place to upgrade and organize the city's public transportation, by adding modern buses and integrating them with eco-friendly shared auto-rickshaw services. However, for now, visitors usually use a combination of auto-rickshaws and taxis for getting around Udaipur. Read on to find out what you need to know.
How to Take an Auto-Rickshaw
There are two types of auto-rickshaws in Udaipur: shared auto-rickshaws that stick to fixed routes, and private auto-rickshaws that will go anywhere.
Shared auto-rickshaws (also called tempos) look similar to, but are larger than, the standard ubiquitous Indian auto-rickshaws. They seat 10 to 12 people, and pick up and drop off passengers anywhere along their designated routes. These routes typically connect the once-walled Old City with the new part of the city and outlying areas. The shared autos don't enter the Old City though. Instead, they stop at various Old City gateways such as Surajpol, Udaipol, Hathipol, and Delhi Gate. In the new part of the city, popular stops include the railway station, Chetak Circle, Sukhadiya Circle, and Fateh Sagar Lake. Route numbers are marked on the vehicles. The fares range from 5-20 rupees, making shared autos an economical option for covering longer distances.
Private auto-rickshaws are generally preferred by tourists because they're more flexible and can conveniently be found all over the Old City. Most of them park and wait for passengers in the Lal Ghat area. You can flag them down in the street too. Just like auto-rickshaws in many other Indian cities, the ones in Udaipur don't use meters, so you'll need to negotiate the fare beforehand. Check out these tips for haggling if you're not experienced in doing so. As a guide, most will agree on 50 to 100 rupees for destinations within Udaipur, though some will insist on more. It's possible to hire an auto-rickshaw for a day of sightseeing. For this, you can expect to pay around 500 to 600 rupees. Do be aware that the driver will probably take you to showrooms where he gets commission.
Alternatively, Jugnoo provides an app-based booking service for auto-rickshaws in Udaipur. These auto-rickshaws do go by the meter. You'll be charged a base fare of 20 rupees, plus 11 rupees per kilometer. Additional charges are applicable for waiting and traffic congestion.
Riding the Bus
Udaipur's City Bus Service currently consists of about 15 buses that run on a handful of routes in the new part of the city. The most useful route, for tourists traveling on a strict budget, is that between Rampura Circle and Dabok near Udaipur airport. However, the bus stop in Dabok is inconveniently situated about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the terminal. Tickets can be purchased onboard the buses by paying cash. The minimum fare is 5 rupees and the maximum fare is 20 rupees. Hours of operation are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. A Udaipur City Bus app for Android-based cell phones is available here. It provides live tracking, so you can see the locations of the buses.
While auto-rickshaws are ideal for short trips, it's more economical to take a taxi if you want to visit destinations outside the city center such as Sajjangarh Biological Park and the Monsoon Palace, Shilpgram handicrafts village, and Lake Badi. App-based cab services such as Uber and Ola (the Indian equivalent) have lower fares than regular taxis. Uber charges a base fare of 37 rupees plus a minimum fare of 45 rupees per trip. The fare per kilometer is 8.5 rupees. Hotels and travel agencies will readily arrange a car and driver or taxi for sightseeing but the cost will be higher. A one-way trip from the Old City to Udaipur airport comes to around 400 rupees in an Uber compared to up to 800 rupees in a taxi.
If you're headed to the Monsoon Palace and want to save money, it's possible to take a shared minivan from Bagore-ki-Haveli at Gangaur Ghat in the Old City. It departs daily at 5 p.m. and costs 350 rupees per person for the round trip.
Hiring a Motorcycle or Bicycle
Prefer to have independence? It's easy to hire a motorcycle, scooter, or bicycle in Udaipur. Numerous companies provide rental services, and several of them are located in the Old City tourist district around Lal Ghat including Bike Rental Udaipur. On the other side of the lake, Udaipur Bike Rentals at Hanuman Ghat is reputable. Onn Bikes and District RJ 27 are popular as well. Motorcycle rentals start from about 250 rupees per day.
MYBYK provides an app-based bicycle sharing service in Udaipur. You can pick the bike up and drop it off at any listed hub. Rates start from 19 rupees for the first hour and 1 rupee for every hour after that. You'll need to maintain a minimum balance in the app's wallet as a security deposit.
Boating on Lake Pichola is one of the top things to do in Udaipur. To visit Jagmandir Island, which has a palace belonging to the Mewar royal family, you must take one of the boats from Rameshwar Ghat in the City Palace gardens. Tickets cost 500 rupees per person for the regular boat ride during the day, and 800 rupees per person for the sunset boat ride. Otherwise, cheaper boat trips depart from the jetty at Lal Ghat in the Old City and Dudh Talai south of the City Palace.
Boats also operate on Fateh Sagar Lake, on the northern outskirts of the city. They're available from the jetty opposite Guru Govind Singh Park, at the bottom of Moti Magri (Pearl Hill), to go out to Nehru Park on an island in the lake. Tickets cost 120 rupees per person for adults and 60 rupees for children.
The Mansapurna Karni Mata Ropeway is an aerial tramway that runs from Deen Dayal Park at Dudh Talai to Karni Mata temple on Machla Magra (Fish Hill). It's a short five-minute trip one way. A viewing platform at the top provides panoramic views over the city and gets particularly busy around sunset. Be prepared for a lengthy wait to buy tickets (100 rupees for adults, round trip) or pay extra to skip the line.
Tips for Getting Around Udaipur
- The Old City is best covered on foot because of its many narrow lanes. These lanes are often too narrow for cars, though auto rickshaws may be able to fit.
- There are many attractions outside the city center, so plan on hiring a taxi (or motorbike) to reach them. Uber works well and is cost-effective but you'll need a cell phone with internet connection.
- Do be aware that auto-rickshaws cannot go up the hill to the Monsoon Palace. They will drop you at the entry of Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary/Biological Park, and you'll have to walk up or take a shared taxi (cost about 200 rupees per person) from there. Hence, traveling there by taxi is better option.