Udaipur, known as the city of lakes or Venice of the east, is a district in the Indian state of Rajasthan. This city was built by Udai Singh and has many forts, palaces, hills, gardens and artificial lakes. The hills aren’t man-made; they are part of the world’s oldest mountain range Aravalli.
Udaipur is a magical place for a trip.
I have compiled a few travel hacks that would come in handy when travelling here. They haven’t just been copy pasted from the Internet (I actually went to Udaipur in the last week of August 2017).
I wrote a travelogue about this trip but since many people don’t have time to read, thus this crash course type book.
I hope it helps you enjoy more during your trip.
Use A Bicycle
Udaipur is a fairly small city and one can cover all the important destinations easily on a bicycle. Also, the pleasure of sight-seeing on a bicycle is unmatchable.
The roads are uphill and downhill, and cycling uphill might be a problem for some but in my opinion it makes matters interesting. The traffic on the roads is less and it is very safe to cycle if you stay at the extreme left hand side of the road.
I got a bicycle free of cost from a relative but you can hire one near Jagdish Temple in the main tourist market.
If you’re travelling on a budget, hiring a bicycle would be much cheaper. The rent per day would be less and a bicycle doesn’t run on petrol/diesel (that’s why it is called the noblest human invention).
Having said that, you can also hire a scooty or a motorcycle if you want but I recommend a bicycle more. Just don’t use a tuk-tuk ; their only aim is to charge as much as they can from you.
Stay at a Hostel
If you’re travelling solo or with friends, then staying at a hostel is a must. Hostels are great for meeting new people from India and abroad, and indulging in friendly conversations.
After staying at a hostel and interacting with a lot of people, I realized that my confidence levels rose quite a bit.
You can check HostelWorld website to search for hostels in Udaipur. I personally recommend Zostel. I stayed here for six days; for a 500 Rs per night dormitory that was meant for six people, you get clean rooms, clean toilets, clean bedsheet, 24 hour hot water supply and a common room for chilling. I had an awesome time at Zostel.
Buy Fresh Fruit
This is one of the things I observed people just didn’t do.
Udaipur has a lot of guava and papaya plantations. Early in the morning, fresh fruit are harvested and sold at tourist areas by local women.
Guava is a speciality at Udaipur and I highly recommend trying them out. Once you do, you won’t be able to stop. The guava fruit sold here is small and ripe, and very cheap.
You can easily find women vendors selling fruit at Gulabh Bagh, Fatehsagar Lake, Saheliyon ki Badi and on the way to Monsoon Palace.
Drink tender coconuts
Tender coconuts sold at Udaipur are supplied from Gujarat, one of the leading producers of coconuts in India.
Udaipur city is quite close to Gujarat thus most of the produce is fresh. The size of the coconuts is small compared to coconuts from Kerala, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.
The price of an individual coconut depends upon the size. Vendors who keep smaller kernels charge 25 Rs while those with bigger kernels charge 35 Rs. Don’t pay more than 35 Rs.
Do drink them; they’re quite tasty. I might have averaged four tender coconuts a day during my six day trip.
Buy Something from the Main Tourist Bazaar
Buy a book or a handicraft or a hand painted tee shirt from the main tourist bazaar (there’s only one).
I didn’t buy a tee shirt that seemed expensive at the time. I liked the design though (it consisted of a Rajasthani turban and a goggle) and later regretted not buying it.
With time, one tends to forget the money a particular thing cost. The memory however remains.
That’s why do buy something that lasts for a long time and makes you remind of your trip whenever you see it.
Do a Bicycle Trip Across Udaipur Countryside
If you go to Udaipur, this is a must in an itinerary. One of the fondest memory I have of Udaipur is me riding a gear bike at countryside.
It cost 2500 Rs for a LAKE LOOP tour since I did it alone (1700 Rs each for 3 people) but I have long forgotten the expense. The sweet memory is all that remains.
I recommend Mr Bhawani of Lets Trip. He is a gentleman and an exceptional guide. We covered 28 Km and in between, we stopped at a deserted lake and chilled out. Foldable chairs were set and breakfast was served.
Best experience ever.
If money is the issue, please spend on this experience and shun fast food for a month. You’ll easily recuperate the money.
There are many a Yoga centres at Udaipur main tourist bazaar. They teach one hour in morning and one hour in the evening, and work on a donation basis. It is best to attend in the morning.
You can give 1 Rs, 100 Rs or any other amount you prefer.
Prakash Yoga is one of the yogi recommended by TripAdvisor. Personally, I didn’t enjoy it though. He went from basic level to advanced level to extreme level very fast. Maybe you might.
There’s a 20 minute basic yoga video on YouTube. You can practice yoga with this video before arriving. Then go for Prakash Yoga.
If you don’t know, Yoga is one mind blowing system created by intellectual sages that helps body function superbly.
Eat at Millets of Mewar
It is a very nice restaurant that has a certificate of excellence from TripAdvisor. The menu is quite innovative and there are vegan as well as gluten free options available. They only serve holistic and healthy food (vegetarian).
There are two floors where people could sit. Sit on the top floor as it has a good view of the Pichola Lake.
The order takes time to arrive but believe me it will be worth it.
Do try millet aloo tikki and Rajasthani Thali. You can also try vegan pizza but I didn’t. Again, in hindsight I think I should have.
The rates are not cheap but not expensive either.
Talk with locals
People of Udaipur are one of the friendliest people you’ll come across in India. If you talk to them, you’ll really enjoy the friendliness.
You might come to know some local stuff that you won’t come to know otherwise.
I’ll give you two examples.
First example - A man told me there are people at Udaipur so rich that they drive Lamborghini car. I asked him what do they do for a living and he told me they export handicrafts.
Second example - I met an old man who sold books at a bookshop in the main tourist area. He told me he has lived at Udaipur ever since he was a little boy. He also told me his favourite book is The Guide by RK Narayanan because the film was shot at Udaipur.
This is a unique way to make lifelong memories though it may sound like arbitrary advice.
Start walking in the morning and get lost in the countryside. Let clean, traffic less roads and greenery all around engulf you. Witness guava and corn plantations while you’re at it. It’ll be better you have a vehicle as you’ll be able to cover more area in less time. Don’t follow a map; just keep going where the road takes you.
If you’re afraid, although there is no reason you should, you can buy a knife from Celebration Mall and carry it with you.
Boating is overrated but if at Udaipur, you must indulge in it.
Instead of regular boating, do speed boating at Fatehsagar Lake. It costs a little bit more money but is totally worth it.
Stay for 3 Days Atleast
Udaipur is such a magical city that couldn’t be covered in less than three days. If you aspire for quality over quantity, stay here longer. It’ll be worth it.
I saw people coming for one day or two days. They weren’t able to cover anything to their satisfaction as their main motive was to cover as much shit as possible.
There are some foreigners who stay at Udaipur for weeks and still aren’t able to fully experience it.
You’ll thank me for this advice. You’re welcome.
City Palace Museum
City Palace is one of the major attractions of Udaipur, located on the east side of Pichola Lake. It was built over a period of 400 years in flamboyant style. (James Bond starring Octopussy movie was filmed around the City Palace complex).
It is highly recommended to hire a guide to get an immersive experience of the place but if you don’t want to spend money, eavesdrop on guides hired by other people. This will also give you freedom to move as you please.
There’s a window on the top floor of City Palace from where the entire city of Udaipur is visible. If you’re with a guide, you won’t be able to spend more than 5 minutes at this spot. Alone, you can spend thirty.
Gulabh Bagh, named after the innumerable rose plants in the garden, is the largest garden of Udaipur covering 100 acres of area.
It is a five minute walk from Pichola Lake; has a toy train, a zoo and a library. A lot of fresh fruit is sold outside this park.
The park is big and has high density of vegetation.
Go there in the morning and do Yoga by yourself.
If your skin fragrance attracts mosquitoes, apply a mixture of coconut oil and lavender oil before doing Yoga. Mosquitoes won’t even come close.
Fatehsagar Lake is one of the major attractions at Udaipur. Though not as big as Pichola Lake, it is also an artificial lake. This lake has an island named Nehru Park and also a solar observatory (both are closed for public though).
You can chill here all day and the infrastructure to do so is top notch. There are eateries too.
It is recommended to take the slowest stroll around this lake. The lake is covered with green hills on three sides. The view is mesmerizing. I came here again and again during the trip for the walks.
You can do a short camel ride for 100 Rs while you’re at Fatehsagar.
Saheliyon ki Badi
A twenty minute walk from Fatehsagar Lake, this garden full of greenery is exotic and hypnotizing (also known as the garden of maidens). And the road that leads to it goes through a posh colony named Polo Ground.
Once inside, you’ll find a lot of plants, trees and flowers that’ll delight your core being.
Do spend some time at water lily pond and witness huge water lily flowers. Also, walk on the grass that has been dug up and arranged in rectangular cakes.
Again, I came here two times during the trip. The air here is so pure it intoxicates.
Also known as Sajjan Garh Palace, it is located on top of a hill overlooking Fatehsagar Lake. It is around 2 Km from Fatehsagar Lake.
It was built in 1884 to have a panoramic view of the city and to watch clouds during the monsoon season. The palace is illuminated in the evenings and gives a soft orange glow.
Again, the James Bond movie Octopussy was shot here.
Once you reach the base of the hills where this palace is located, park your vehicle and buy a ticket. The ticket comes with jeep rent (total 150 Rs.)
Once up there, go to the main roof where all the tourist activity takes place.
There is another roof adjacent to the main roof (not as busy) and it is a must visit because super fast wind blows there. Standing in that wind for 15 minutes feels as if your soul has been cleansed (detox for the soul).
This temple is located at the heart of the city near City Palace. There’s a huge stairwell that leads to the temple. People have been worshipping here since 1651 and it is a major monument of Udaipur.
The architecture of the temple is eye catching, the aura of the entire place electric with spirituality.
If you go there, do attend a prayer (the prayers keep happening all the time and there is no fixed time) inside the temple.
Again, I visited this temple again and again. Maybe four or five times.
Very less people know the name of this bridge but they will come across it during the trip.
This bridge is located on Pichola Lake connecting the main tourist area of Chandpole and the local residential area of Chandpole.
Arrive at this bridge early in the morning. Feel constant breeze on your flesh, revel in the chirping of birds and embrace the positive energy that is all around you (just ask around for Daijee Bridge and people will tell you). There couldn’t be a better start to a morning.
It’s just a normal mall but since Udaipur isn’t much developed as an urban centre (thank God), this mall is hyped too much.
Nevertheless, it is quite good. You can buy branded clothes here and there’s a food court too. I ate a sub sandwich at Subway.
You can also have an Ayurvedic massage here.
It is located at a distance of 5 Km from Fatehsagar Lake.
Doodh Talai Lake
All the lakes at Udaipur are interconnected, in case you didn’t know.
Doodh Talai is another lake that is located adjacent to Pichola Lake but you have to take a 20 minute walk to reach it from Pichola Lake.
The view of this lake isn’t too great as it is small. Cleanliness around the area is also a problem.
However, it is a gateway to Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Park and Ropeway Karni Mata ka Mandir (temple).
Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Park
It is located in front of Ropeway Karni Mata ka Mandir (temple) and provides an enormous view of Doodh Talai and Pichola Lake.
The park has a variety of plants and rides for children.
You can give it a miss if you’re short on time.
Ropeway Karni Mata ka Mandir (Temple)
A five minute walk from Doodh Talai, it is located at a steep height on a hill.
You can buy a Ropeway ticket for 103 Rs and wait for your turn. You don’t need to stand; there are chairs available and most of the people sit. A trolley will take you to the top of a hill via Ropeway.
You’ll come across a restaurant once you de-board the trolley. The first thing I recommend you do is drink Kesar Lassi (butter milk with saffron and sugar as additives).
You can go up the ramp to the temple next. The view of entire Udaipur that you’ll witness will fill your heart with happiness.
Also known as Dhebar Lake, it is located around 50 Km from the main heart of Udaipur city. The most cost friendly way to reach there is by a personal vehicle. Don’t use a taxi or tuk-tuk – they will scam you.
I didn’t go to this lake as I was on a bicycle and didn’t have much time (I like to go deep and spent too much time at individual tourist spots within the main city). In hindsight, I should have gone there.
It is said that the view of this lake dazzles (it is the second largest lake in Asia). There’s a wildlife sanctuary very close by that serves as a habitat for birds, panthers, wild boars, crocodiles, deer and leopard.
Mewar Biodiversity Park
It is located some 12 Km from the main heart of Udaipur city. A bicycle can easily get you there.
It is kind of a jungle cum park that also has animals. There’s also a water park.
It is the perfect spot for a picnic with friends and family. Many local families of Udaipur come here on weekends to chill out.
You can give it a miss if you’re short on time.