Delicious food, striking sunsets, and rooftop patios are a few of my favourite things, and Udaipur happens to have an abundance of all three- so it’s no surprise I immediately fell in love with it. Surrounded by lakes, Udaipur is perfectly picturesque, and I was instantly charmed by its narrow lanes, beautifully crumbling architecture, and alluring waterfront vistas. The sunsets are some of the best I’ve ever seen, and the rooftop restaurants provide the perfect vantage point to watch the sun slowly dip behind the surrounding hills.
Everyone in Udaipur appeared to be a little more laid-back, and one shop owner I spoke with confirmed that my observation was accurate- the people in Udaipur are indeed more easy-going. I often spotted groups of people walking down the street in some sort of celebratory parade; men carried drums and sang loudly, and a bevvy of sari-clad women followed close behind. I passed a group of women having a small dance party in the street one afternoon, and they seemed happily oblivious to the small group of curious bystanders who gathered nearby. The happiness must have been contagious because I had a huge smile on my face the entire time I was in Udaipur.
In terms of attractions, some might say there’s not a whole lot to see, but I found Udaipur to offer a nice mix of indulgent activities, historic sites, and natural attractions. Udaipur’s laid-back atmosphere also makes it an ideal place to momentarily escape from India’s larger and more chaotic cities.
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Wandering around the city
Much like my beloved cities of Melbourne and Edinburgh, Udaipur is easily walkable and it’s the type of city that beckons visitors to aimlessly explore its winding streets.
I spent time browsing the market stalls, admiring buildings adorned with beautiful murals, photographing the lake from various vantage points around the city, and stopped every so often for a hot masala chai.
Hiking to Monsoon Palace
This former royal summer palace is located 5km from Udaipur, surrounded by Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary and perched on a hill with sweeping views of the city and lakes below. The palace itself isn’t particularly impressive, but the views from the top are worth the exertion.
You can hire a taxi, but I chose to walk up the gradually steep and winding road, which takes roughly 40 minutes. I foolishly decided to go during the mid-afternoon heat, but with no-one else in sight, I had a peaceful walk to the top- apart from the incessant honking from cars warning oncoming traffic of their presence around every bend, that is.
It was rather hazy by the time I reached the palace, but I can imagine how beautiful the views must be on a clear day.
*At the foot of the hill you must enter through Sajjan Garh Wildlife Sanctuary, which has an entry fee of ₹100.
Udaipur is the perfect place to unwind and there are plenty of options for self-indulgent activities. Ayurvedic massages are offered just about everywhere, and I paid ₹550 ($9) for a 45 minute massage from a shop on Lal Ghat Road.
You could also take an art class, get a henna tattoo, or try a yoga class.
Boat ride on Lake Pichola
While most people choose to take this boat ride at sunset, I opted to go around 5:30, just before the sun went down. Not only was it less expensive, but I think the sunset views are much better from any of the rooftop restaurants.
The ride is roughly 30 minutes and provides beautiful views of the Lake Palace, the Aravali Mountain Range, and the facades of the beautiful buildings surrounding the lake.
*You can take a one hour boat ride from City Palace for ₹400 plus the palace entrance fee. I walked to the dock at the end of Lal Ghat Road and paid ₹250 for a 30 minute ride. I believe the sunset boat ride from Lal Ghat Road costs roughly ₹500, and the sunset boat ride from City Palace costs ₹650.
The main part of this complex is the City Palace Museum, which is a series of palaces- each with a unique architectural style. The museum houses a collection of antiques, paintings, and furniture, and the walls are adorned with beautifully intricate glass and tile mosaics. I chose not to pay the ₹225 camera fee, but regretted my decision after seeing the beautiful decor and views of the city below. I managed to sneak some photos, but I would highly recommend paying the camera fee.
*City Palace Museum has an entry fee of ₹115
Two of my favourite restaurants for dinner with a sunset view are Jaiwana Haveli and Charcoal. Jaiwana Haveli is slightly on the pricey side, and while I wasn’t overly impressed by the food, I think it’s worth a visit for the unobstructed views of the Lake Palace.
Charcoal offers spectacular views and mouth-watering dishes to match. BBQ and tandoori dishes are their specialty, and I returned multiple times for their vegetable and paneer skewers.
There are dozens of options for cooking classes in Udaipur, but I’m so glad I went with the TripAdvisor majority and booked Shashi’s Cooking Class. ₹700 may seem a bit pricey, but the meal we cooked was one of the best I had in India, and I came away with detailed recipes and practical tips and advice from the chef herself.
Held at Shashi’s home, most of the class was spent observing while periodically taking turns cutting, chopping, and stirring various dishes. I did get my hands dirty rolling and shaping the dough to make chapati, paratha, and naan, and then learned to gently rotate them on the frying pan until they were perfectly browned. Along with the bread, we made an array of dishes- paneer butter masala, vegetable byrani, onion and potato pakora with mango and coriander chutney, chana masala, a sweet paratha dessert- and everything was incredibly delicious.
Dharohar Dance Show & Day trips
Bagore-Ki-Haveli is an 18th century mansion which has been converted into a museum, and it hosts a cultural show with Rajasthani folk dances, songs, and puppets every evening.
I had looked into a few day trips from Udaipur in case I found a 4 day stay to be too long, but I promptly forgot about said day trips as soon I stepped foot in the city. However, if you somehow find yourself bored in Udaipur, you could visit the white marble temple complex in Ranakpur (located 90km away).
I’d been warned that 4 days was too long to spend in Udaipur, but I was heartbroken when my time in this captivating city came to an end. From the happy ambiance to the lake views and the lingering sunsets, Udaipur truly is magical in every sense of the word.
Have you been to Udaipur? If not, does it seem like the type of city you’d like to visit?