Looking for a romantic destination, which is easily accessible and featured in almost all the must go lists on the travel blogs, we have figured it out ‘The city of Lakes’, Udaipur is the place. Beautifully surrounded by the Aravali Range and set around multiple artificial lakes, Udaipur unfolds as a city of historical importance as well as a popular travel destination for people all around the globe.
Ideal time to travel: Except summer it is wonderful for the rest of the year, especially in monsoon. All the greenery, lakes full of water and mountains covered with cloudes will make you wonder if you are in Rajasthan which is stereotyped as desert.
How to reach: Udaipur is well connected by road from Delhi and Jaipur, so you can take a bus or can get your own taxi or you can have your mini road trip as well if you like driving. You can also travel in Indian railways from almost all the major cities. Udaipur have its own airport, so if you want to save time you can also fly down.
Here’s my itinerary from our short trip to Udaipur last monsoon.
Check-in — Sajjangarh Fort — City Palace — Dinner at Lake Pichola
We started our trip from Jaipur early in the morning, it’s a six hour drive to Udaipur from there. As it was monsoon season the route was very pleasant, we stopped at multiple places just to appreciate the nature, checkout some unnamed seasonal lakes and the beautiful scenery.
After checking in and getting refreshments, we left for Sajjangarh Fort. Also known as Monsoon Palace, it is a hilltop palatial residence overlooking Fateh Sagar lake. It’s name is derived from it’s maker Maharana Sajjan Singh, who initially wanted to build it as a five storey astronomical center, but due to his untimely death it’s construction was halted. Later it was used as monsoon palace and hunting lodge. James Bond fans can remember it from the film Octopussy as the residence of Kamal Khan, an exiled Afghan prince.
The entry gate of Sajjangarh is situated just at the starting of the 5km long road in the mountains that leads to the Monsoon Palace. Now this 5km long stretch is a very difficult one to drive on with sharp turns and steep roads, so if you are not a good driver don’t take the risk, you can easily get a cab for round trip in Rs 500 only with pickup and drop at any location in Udaipur.
On reaching the top, we were amazed to see the beautiful view of Udaipur covered with clouds. The palace itself isn’t very amusing to see, as I mentioned it’s construction wasn’t completed, but you’ll love the view. Also there is a small Cafe in the premises where you can enjoy tea and snacks.
The next place we headed to was City Palace. City palace is located on the bank of the Lake Pichola overlooking the city of Udaipur. Its construction was started by Maharana Udai Singh ll, and his successors continued to expand it for next 400 years. Basically it is a complex having several palaces built within it and if you like ancient architecture you’ll absolutely adore it. Just to let you know how huge it is, The royal family still lives in that palace also some part of it is converted as a hotel, there is one school inside it, and the rest of the palace is open for visitors.
At the entry you will be charged 300 rupees per person,additional charges are there for vehicle and cameras. Hire a guide so that you can get an idea about its amazing history and some fun facts.
After lake palace you can go to the famous Jagdish temple, located at walking distance from city palace. We are not much into temples unless there is some interesting architecture, so we skipped it.
One of our friends suggested us to have dinner at Ambrai restaurant on the bank of Lake Pichola, and it has been a ritual ever since,whenever we visit Udaipur we go there for dinner as it is one of the most romantic places I’ve ever been to. So don’t forget to reserve a table when you are there. If you take a cab they’ll leave you at chand-pole puliya as the road after that is very narrow, so from there you’ll have to walk around 1km. You can get auto to the place but its likely that you’ll get stuck after chand-pole so better walk. Have a romantic beautiful dinner and then sit on bank of Pichola with beautifully illuminated city palace in front of you.
One day tour to Kumbhalgarh Fort and Ranakpur temple
Kumbhalgarh Fort located 85 kilometers from Udaipur is a hill top fort. Upon reaching there you’ll have to park your vehicle outside and then have to walk to the top. If you are driving your own vehicle, I’ll suggest you to park it bit outside, because sometimes there can be a chaos in the parking. But you can always hire a taxi, which is quite affordable(Rs2500 for both places) also convenient.
The initial history of the fort is not properly known but it was later built or developed by Rana Kumbha, hence Kumbhalgarh. The old guard was used as place of refuge for rulers of Mewar at time of danger, interestingly Maharana Udai Singh who later built Udaipur was smuggled as a infant to this fort when Chittorgarh was under attack. Having its perimeter walls spread upto 36 kilometers making it the second biggest after the ‘Great wall of China’, which divides Mewar from Marwar, local names of regions of Udaipur and Jodhpur respectively. Kumbhalgarh has seven fortified gateways and over 360 temples within the fort. From the palace top, it is possible to see kilometers into the Aravalli Range and believe me it’s breathtakingly spectacular on brighter days and mesmerizing when clouds surround it.
Walk to the top of the fort was interesting, it was cloudy that day so we were literally walking in clouds. We walked around the fort and tried to see everything that it had to offer.
After the Kumbhalgarh fort, it was time to visit famous Ranakpur Jain temple, which is 50 kilometers from Kumbhalgarh. Built in 15th century by a local Jain businessman; Ranakpur Jain temple is basically a collection of one grand and three to four small Jain temples. The temples are constructed with white marble, upon which there are very beautiful and detailed craving related to Jain culture. You will be amazed to see the craftsmanship, and how fine the carvings has been done on the marble pillars. There are 1444 marble pillars in the temple and each of the pillar have been carved uniquely and have been arranged in a manner that it doesn’t block the view of deity idols in the center from any corner of the temple. Apart from Jainism, the carvings also has stories and references of the Mahabharta and Puranas. If you have any interest in architecture it’s a must go place, but if you don’t have any interest you can skip it.
Make sure that you are in “appropriate clothes”.
Shop — Eat — Repeat
We started our day by having lunch at Gordhan Thaal which serves amazing unlimited Rajasthani food, they have a variety of Rajasthani dishes. After eating till death we went for shopping in local market.
In the evening left for the Fateh Sagar, my favorite and most happening place in Udaipur, locally referred as FS(some swag after all). Fateh Sagar Chowpati has wide range of snacks and the famous cold coffee. You can enjoy some amazing food with a sunset to remember.
Note 1: If you are someone who is not interested in planning where to go and where not to go, you can easily get a day tour of Udaipur in Rs 1500 or so. You just need to talk to your hotel staff and they’ll arrange it for you.
Note 2: The mistake what we did was that WE TOOK OUR OWN CAR on the city tour. The old city of Udaipur have very small roads, also people drive recklessly, so pro tip here, if you are driving to Udaipur, park your car at hotel and take cabs or autos(just don’t forget to negotiate with auto wallas).