Udaipur is a royal dream. Udaipur has inspired poetic musings, perfect frames, wanderlust stories, utopian beauty and fables from the ‘sone ki chidiya India’. Udaipur has always been a favourite with tourists. There is nothing more that, I, a simple travel blogger can add to the majesty that Udaipur is. So, in this blog, I will not talk about the over-hyped, over-priced hotels of Lake Pichola, or rave about how a room in Oberoi or Taj hotel is larger than life. As usual, we chose to explore the offbeat Udaipur. We took it slow, chilling in the swimming pool of Amanatra Shilpi Resort and explored ways to keep the kid engaged. Here we enlist our favourite things to see in Udaipur, our favourite things to do in Udaipur and a word of caution with touristy problems faced in Udaipur – I call it the Hits & Misses of Udaipur.
Our favourite Palaces In Udaipur
No, it was not the City Palace. Though undoubtedly, the City Palace is the biggest crowd puller. We reached sharp 9 am when the boating services start to avoid the rush. The boat ride on Lake Pichola passed through all the heritage buildings now converted in hotels, the iconic hotels where many famous movies were shot and scenic frames at every step. The boat is anchored for a half an hour tour of the Jagmandir, a palace on island ( a Taj property now). Thereafter, we toured City Palace which was full of stories just out of a historic novel. The guides have a way to pull you in the world of Kings and Queens and by the end of it, I felt like being a queen in my previous birth.
Well, we enjoyed the other two palaces more because:
Perched atop a hill, you get uninterrupted view of the whole Udaipur city interspersed with lakes. Monsoon Palace, also, known as ‘Roothi rani ka mahal’, was built to spend some romantic alone time for the royal couple when the queen took umbrage. I found this so amusing. I wish I had such a beautiful escape from life.
Saheliyon Ki Bari
I think I am feminist J Another palace I loved was Saheliyon ki bari which was built when the queen complained owing to pardah system ( the system for royal ladies to be under veil always) that they have no place to let her hair down and just be herself. And, voila! A garden palace was built. The gate opens and fountains as tall as 10 ft are lined by the walkway. There are gardens as per seasons – the summer garden has more of trees to shade while the queen and her friends take a walk, the rain garden is so designed that you close your eyes and the pitter-patter of fountain falling over the trees perfectly enact a rainy day and, a garden exclusively for Holi festival (the most important festival of Udaipur).
When the sun was setting, lights were slowly lighting up the garden and there was fountain creating music, it all felt surreal.
Favourite Things To Do In Udaipur
Even before we entered Udaipur at NH 8 Badarda, there was a huge marble market and I couldn’t resist my shopping instinct. I had to check out this place – the place that supplies marble all across the country, the marble hub.
Boat ride at Lake Pichola
Mesmerizing blue waters, majestic white structures and cool breeze of early morning.
Puppet show in Udaipur
Puppet show in Udaipur is best at Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandal Folk Museum where 20 minutes puppet show is played every half an hour. Must do activity for the young kids
Auto ride amidst lanes of Udaipur
Discover the lanes and bylanes of Udaipur city, sitting in brightly decorated auto with edgy driving style. Auto rickshaw is the only public transport in Lake Pichola side of Udaipur and, an authentic way to see the city around.
Dinner date at Ambrai Restaurant
Right on the banks of the Pichola lake, diagonally and in clear view of golden lit City Palace, Ambrai restaurant is perfect for that magical candle light dinner date. Traditional music playing the background, dim light of the candles, a quiet murmur, undisturbed panoramic view of Jagdish Temple, Gangaur Ghat, City Palace, Lake Palace, Jag Mandir and Sajjangarh Fort. – what more do I need to say?
Loved the love and pampering.
And, for all this when the bill came, we were happily for we sure were ready for a royal dent in the pocket. But, Super chill pricing! Yay
Cultural program at Bagore Ki Haveli, Dharohar
7pm to 8pm – one hour cultural show at Bagore Ki Haveli is a must watch, we were told by the friendly reception staff of Amantra Shilpi Resort. A carefully curated cultural program that musically expresses socio-cultural fabric of Udaipur enthralled the audience. Perfectly set in the backdrop of a royal courtyard, in the open amidst trees and jharokas, it was a resplendent affair in a highborn style.
Walk by the lakes
A perfect way to end the day! Walk by the lake at Gangaur ghat or a quiet corner of fateh sagar lake and see the royal building lit like a dream.
Our Stay At Amantra Shipi Resort, Udaipur
Where to stay in Udaipur is a big travel decision. On one hand you are spoilt for choices, on the other you try to manage the purse amidst tag of royalty and lastly you want a decent space and, not the cramped and over-priced hotels by Lake Pichola.
So, Lake Fateh Sagar area was our choice. Wide open roads, new constructions, biggest lake of Udaipur led us to Amantra Shilpi resort adjacent to Shilpgram ( craftsmen village). A warm welcome and we were recharged of 600 kilometres of drive from Delhi to Udaipur covered over 10 hours.
The swimming pool here is the biggest in Udaipur for most of the heritage properties converted into hotels didn’t actually have a pool originally so more like show pool was recreated. We didn’t waste any time and jumped to cool off. You know how my kiddo is a water baby and for him there was added fun of paddle boat and zorbing alongwith a glass of horlicks milk served at the pool. Truly, kid-friendly resort J
Manicured garden with swings, pleasing landscape with fountain and bridge walk, Amantra Shilpi resort had maintained so much green and old trees around amidst dry desert that it is amazing.
Rajasthani thali, laal maas and their continental cuisine makes for foodalicious experience. Food and Pool – what else do you need to chill.
Problems Faced – The Misses of Udaipur
Parking is a big issue if you are self driving
To see the touristy part of town you have to park near haathi chowk or amba devi temple and then either walk or take an auto, exorbitantly priced at Rs 100 for a 500 meter ride. At evening it gets more crowded. Though, there is ola and uber services but not very prompt. Lake Pichola side of the city is difficult to navigate and by foot is the best way.
We parked near amba devi temple and then took an auto to reach Lake Pichola.
Palaces are not kid, senior citizen or disabled friendly
Too much walking, narrow and steep stairs – you need to be physically fit to tour around. Clearly, Udaipur palaces are not meant for senior citizens or differently-abled. No provisions like ramp or handle bars was seen. On the contrary, in City Palace there is a complete section devoted to a king who was handicapped and how provisions like internal lift, moulded toilets etc especially designed for him. Such a contrast!
We got scammed
Yes! Though we got saved in the nick of the time. The usual story when the vulnerable guide takes you to an art school where you are illustriously demonstrated and sweetly cajoled into buying a piece of traditional art at 10 times the original price. And, that too when we are Indian tourists. Think about foreigner tourists. Will this be ever regulated?
No nightlife in Udaipur
Yes, you heard it right. Kings believed in discipline, I guess. There is nothing much to do beyond 9pm in Udaipur. So, it becomes all the more important that you choose the right hotel in Udaipur that keeps you engaged like our hotel, Amantra shilpi resort had a party hall and DJ to keep us entertained.
Not good dhabas on a part of road drive From Delhi to Udaipur
If you are driving from Delhi to Udaipur, stay well stocked. There are alternate routes but the best drive is Delhi- Jaipur (turn into NH 48 just short of Kishangarh) –Bhilwara-Rajsamand- Udaipur. The stretch of about 120 Km to be avoided for any meals as it does not have good hygienic restaurants. They are basic trucker dhaba. Somehow, we miscalculated our time and had to eat lunch there on our way back and I got a gift – food poisoning.
Yup, no compromises with health. Learnt a lesson. Better stay hungry in such a situation.
Travel Blogger’s Final thoughts on Udaipur Trip
Udaipur the city of lakes and palaces
Tour around them takes you to grandeur spaces
As you admire the opulence
A small thought creeps up in your sense
Where are the hands that build them
Unfortunately they are all forgotten
They stay a lil away from the dainty
In their small lil shanty
They have made their society and live with humility
They too deserve a look and an ode for the sake of Humanity
Ladies and gentlemen just move a lil away from the grandeur and do explore the rich yet simple cultural gaiety.
We were invited to stay with Amantra Shilpi by Aamod (Udaipur). However, you know how passionate I am about travel blogging, so opinions are my own and true to my reader. Gita ki kasam J