Disclaimer: This post describes my personal experience travelling to the destination. All opinions expressed are personal and based on own experience.
The King of destination weddings
When I planned my trip, I wasn’t really aware of Udaipur’s popularity for destination weddings. But when it comes to destination weddings, Udaipur is right on top of the list. Everyone from the celebrities of Hollywood and Bollywood and super-rich businessmen to royal families have chosen to come here to tie their knot.
Most recently Udaipur got a chance to be in news more than usual, thanks to his highness and holiness, Mr. Mukesh Ambani choosing Udaipur for the pre-wedding ceremonies of his daughter. Overflowing the tiny town with hundreds of attendees and turning the wedding tamasha into a mega national event.
Choosing your honeymoon destination
Although known for destination weddings, Udaipur’s reputation for honeymoon destination is no less. With the romantic views overlooking the lake and what have you, its the place where the newly-weds flock in numbers each year.
When I got married, it was February and a perfect time to visit the exotic Rajasthan. We’d chosen Jaipur and Udaipur. Manali was not even on our list. Nothing against it, but well, we figured its just too mainstream for us. We took a overnight train from Jaipur to Udaipur and reached there early morning.
#TravelTip: December – February would be perfect time to visit Udaipur.
I found Udaipur as a small, adorable place. The small, curvy by-lanes of Udaipur zigzagging and crossing each other are very undulating since most of the city is built on a hilly area.
We were in Udaipur for only two days. And I think that is about the right amount of time to dedicate to the place. A good reason to stay there longer would be that you’re staying in one of those ultra-expensive hotels cum resorts, which are actually quite a few in Udaipur.
#TravelTip: In my experience two days are quite sufficient to see around and get a feel of Udaipur. If going for a longer stay, do plan the trip in detail.
We hired a cab provided by hotel to roam around Udaipur. However, a lot of Udaipur can also be experienced simply on foot.
Hotels in Udaipur
Lake Pichola is entirely dotted with a lot of small hotels along one entire coast. Pretty much all of them offers a fantastic view of the lake, so you’re easily sorted on the best part Udaipur has to offer. It might seem difficult to get a good mid-range or budget hotel and you’ll have to dedicate sufficient time to find a good hotel.
We got really lucky with our staying option. We stayed at a place called Jaiwana Haveli which is right on Lake Pichola. It also had an excellent rooftop restaurant with a great view of the Lake and good food. People outside the hotel too came to the restaurant for the good food. However, the food was quite expensive.
But if you’re looking for kind of luxurious stay, they are aplenty too. There are many hotels which are extremely expensive and will cost you an arm. You can find everything between 15k – 55k/ night.
Getting around in Udaipur
Cab seems to be most popular way to get around but you should opt for it wisely. If you ask in the hotel, they will most probably recommend a taxi. A Taxi would cost around Rs. 3000 – 5000 per day. That’s certainly a ripoff. You’d be better off hiring an auto for a day or half-a-day. It would be much cheaper. There’s isn’t so many places of interest which you can’t cover in a day.
#TravelTip: Hire an auto for a day instead of hiring a cab for getting around. It is much cheaper.
Places we’d skip if we visited again
To save time and spend it at places you’d enjoy more, its best to pick places based on your interest. We had hired a cab (given by hotel) to see around Udaipur. There were a couple of places we did not enjoy much and given an option to visit Udaipur again, we’d probably skip. I tend to avoid places of attractions that are merely served as additional items to fill up your itinerary but are lacking proper upkeep. However if you have enough time, you may as well try visiting.
The monsoon palace is a little far away from Lake Pichola. And once you’ve seen the city palace, it does not feel all that great. However, people visit here to witness a nice sunset view. If you’re short on time, you can as well choose to skip this one.
It is another popular lake in Udaipur. Being from the city of lakes, I’m used to seeing a lot of lakes. Although it has been made into a popular tourist attraction, this doesn’t rank very high on my list.
Nehru Garden is island on the lake Fateh Sagar. Again, being from a city where there are gardens and parks aplenty, I am used to seeing very large and beautiful parks. Compared to that, this does not really fit the bill as a park. It felt quite underwhelming. Despite being touted as tourist destination, I felt that this place was not given proper maintenance and upkeep. Not to mention, this place has an entry fee too. Since its an island, you have to reach there by boat. If your tour guide has added this to your itinerary, you can probably just ask him to skip it.
Maharana Pratap is the name that you’ll see and hear everywhere in Rajasthan. One of the Great kings of the region he is highly revered and his legends are told and retold. Moti Magri is a memorial of Maharana Pratap and his loyal horse Chetak. The monument is built to pay homage to the famous Haldighati battle against Emperor Akbar. It has a bronze statue of Maharana Pratap atop his horse.
The place is on top of a small hill. There is a nominal entry fee charge. The hill offers a city view but is not very high and the view not that great. Apart from the statue and a small park, there isn’t much to see here. We visited in the afternoon, so it was exceptionally empty. There is a light and sound show which happens every evening. I did not attend the show so I cannot say if its worth going.
Moti Mahal Museum
The museum is just on the way to Moti Magri on the same hill. It is quite small compared to the usual museums you’re probably used to seeing. It has few interesting paintings such as the one of Queen of Chittor, Rani Padmini and Saint Meerabai. But apart from that, there is very little to see. We got in and got out in a very short time.
It is a garden built by 18th century King Maharana Sangram Singh for the royal ladies. It is said that it served as a relaxing spot for royal ladies and maids. It has multiple sculptures made of marble and four pools, I think one of which was a lotus pool. It has a small garden with few species of roses.
Although being touted as a major tourist attraction, I was a bit disappointed in this one. Considering its history and the flora and beautiful marble architecture, it could have been an excellent tourist attraction. But it was sad to see that it seriously lacked any upkeep. This place again has a small entry fee charge. Although I usually don’t go for guides, if you visiting this place at all, it’d probably be a good idea to hire one of the local guides standing outside the entrance to tell you a bit about the history of this place. Because without that, visiting this place will seem a bit pointless.
#TravelTip: All the above places are quite nearby so adding and removing them from your plan is easy and you probably don’t have to decide on each one individually.
Other touristy things
There are a few other unexpected things which you’ll find in Udaipur like yoga classes, cooking classes and Mehendi classes. Not to mention the tattoo shops at every corner. You’ll find atleast a dozen small shops on every street advertising these. As an Indian traveller it feels a bit weird since Udaipur per-say is not known for any of these things. These are obviously targeted for foreign tourists who seem to be quite fond of these kind of local experiences. Hard for me to say but might as well be an enjoyable experience for them.
Although we enough a lot of fun in Udaipur, I think if we hadn’t included Jaipur in our itinerary, our trip would probably have been quite uneventful.
#TravelTip: If planning a trip to Udaipur, it is best to include Jaipur / Jodhpur / Jaisalmer to your itinerary as well for a complete experience of Rajasthan.
If you have any of your own personal travel tips for Udaipur, do share with me in comments below.