Udaipur, Rajasthan: The Most Romantic City in India?
India isn’t a country generally associated with romance. It’s a hectic, adventurous, exciting and often unglamorous country to travel, but there are places where you can escape the “real India” for a while. Udaipur, an unapologetic tourist city, is one of those places. From the gentle hum of life by the lake at sunset to the surreal City Palace, Udaipur might just be the most beautiful, and most romantic, city in India.
Are you looking for ideas on things to do and see in Udaipur? Here’s what we got up to on our 4 day trip in early July.
Looking out over Lake Pichola
Relaxing on our balcony overlooking Lake Pichola was one of the highlights of our entire trip to Rajasthan. We spent hours out there watching and listening to the various aspects that make Udaipur unique.
We watched as old women washed their clothes in the murky waters. We spied on local tourists taking countless selfies at the ghats (steps) across the lake while local children swum by. Flocks of birds flew through the sky as it turned from blue to pink to black. Temple bells rang out in a relaxing rhythm. These scenes took place before the exotic background of temples, ancient havelis, and the dominating presence of the City Palace.
We stayed at Lake Pichola Hotel, which is on the quieter western bank of the lake. I highly recommend it — our private lakefront balcony was really romantic and the views can’t be beaten. Check out Gia’s review of Lake Pichola Hotel over at mismatchedpassports.com.
The City Palace
After gazing at the City Palace from afar, you’ll eventually want to head there for a closer look. The finely detailed windows, pavilions and arches will blow you away at first glance. It’s a magical piece of architecture, and while the inside doesn’t quite match up to the exterior, it is worth paying the 250 INR / 250 INR camera fee (for foreigners) to see it. You only need to pay 30 INR to walk around the outside.
The entrance ticket allows you to walk through various mahals (palaces), courtyards and museum displays. The details and colours of the royally appointed rooms and the abundance of artistic touches throughout the palace have been brilliantly maintained, as descendants of the former rulers of Udaipur still own it.
Sunsets in Udaipur
While we generally preferred to stay on our balcony during those magic late afternoon hours, we did make it out for a couple of sunsets. The first was at Lake View Rooftop Restaurant — the sunset view of the lake and the city was nice and we were the only people there for most of our meal.
Another great sunset spot in Udaipur is on the hill above the palace. “Sunset Point”, as it is generally referred to, is around a 40 minute walk (or a cheap rickshaw ride) plus a short cable car journey away from Udaipur’s tourist centre. It was pretty quiet up there but I imagine it gets crowded during high season. There are panoramic views over Lake Pichola and the city surrounded by rolling green hills. It’s always nice to ride on a cable car and this one, at 100 INR per person return, is surely one of the cheapest in the world. The Monsoon palace is also a popular place to watch the sunset but it’s a bit further from town and we didn’t have a chance to go there.
Other things to do in Udaipur
Udaipur’s narrow streets are home to numerous temples, havelis, cafes and shops. It’s a nice place to walk around but the shop / rickshaw touts can get annoying.
We paid a quick visit to Bagore Ki Haveli, an old mansion converted into a museum (80 INR for foreigners). It’s worth a quick look, and, if you’re searching for a unique souvenir, you’ll find a room full of puppets and various other handmade items.
You can also take a boat trip to Jag Mandir (an island on Lake Pichola) or a cheaper short cruise around the lake. We skipped those in favour of more time relaxing on our balcony (it became quite hard to drag ourselves away from such a perfect spot). We did spend a bit of time at several ghats along the lake — they are popular hangouts and you’re bound to meet plenty of local tourists. Lake Fatehsagar is another popular place in Udaipur. We had such a nice time hanging out around Lake Pichola that we never made it there.
Things you need to know about a trip to Udaipur
- Where to stay and eat in Udaipur: I can’t speak highly enough of Lake Pichola Hotel, but if you’re on a budget there are plenty of other options. At the last minute we decided to stay another night and booked a cheap room at Lake View Guesthouse (500 INR). The experience was in no way comparable to our time spent at Lake Pichola Hotel but it’s a solid budget option (and the hotel’s rooftop restaurant is a good place to watch the sunset). Wairo, on the west bank of the lake, a short walk from Lake Pichola Hotel, was our favourite rooftop cafe. The restaurant at Lake Pichola Hotel, Upre, also has incredible views. It’s worth having a meal there if you don’t end up staying at the hotel.
- Getting to Udaipur: We caught a bus from Chittorgarh to Udaipur which took around 2 hours. A more common route would be from Jodhpur, which is around 6 hours away by bus. A bus or train from Jaipur takes 7 – 9 hours.
- Udaipur in low season: The rains had started a short time before we arrived so the heat wasn’t unbearable. It didn’t rain much while we were there either. I’ve heard Udaipur gets really busy during high season (October – March) so I think we timed our visit perfectly.
Is Udaipur the most romantic city in India? Which city would get your vote? Let me know in the comments below.
Disclaimer: I was hosted by Lake Pichola Hotel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.