Amazing, colourful, beautiful Udaipur. A Dream. This is the first place we have visited in Rajasthan and we were not disappointed.
We arrived really early in the morning, so thankfully we’d booked accommodation previously at Udai Haveli. On arrival, we were welcomed by a lovely man who showed us to our room. This hotel is brilliantly located and for only 310Rs we had a really nice, clean, COOL room, with WIFI, and a good fan. The bathroom was ‘shared’, but as we found out, we were the only ones staying there due to it being low season, so it was totally perfect for us. The bathroom was clean, and the shower was the best one I’d had in the whole of India – SO powerful and with hot water! Bonus!
After a nap, we woke in the afternoon and went for a wander. We arrived at the City Palace, next to which we enjoyed a lovely lunch at Gateway Restaurant. It was a little hoity-toity but the food was so good I didn’t really care. We didn’t have much intention of visiting the sites today, but we found ourselves visiting the City Palace– it was right next to us so we thought we might as well. Entry was around 50Rs and CAMERA fee was extortionate – 200!!!!!! Good money-making scheme they’ve got going on there, (though if you buy a museum ticket, you can visit the palaces for free – otherwise pay the 25Rs). Anyway, the buildings were phenomenal. It’s a palace complex in which several palaces are built, and is supposed to be one of, if not THE, largest in Rajasthan.
Thanks to our audioguide, we spent around 3 hours looking around. The architecture here is incredible as you would expect, (and as I keep saying), and offers the most stunning views of the lake and the city – not to mention Jagmandir Island and Jagniwas Island. Both of these were once palaces though are now grand hotels, one of which was made particularly famous when featured in James Bond: Octopussy.
After leaving, we made our way around the quirky streets lined with beautiful handicraft shops, and visited various cafes for drinks. After returning home for a shower and rest, we were back out again on the prowl for dinner. All, or at least nearly all of the restaurants here are on a rooftop with ridiculously amazing views of the lake which is all lit up at night, as is the City Palace which shimmeringly (I know that’s not a real word) reflects onto Lake Picchola. We made our way over the bridge to the other side of the lake, pausing for a long time to watch the spectacular array of bats flying around. They were in their THOUSANDS, I’ve never seen anything like it. Sadly due to lighting and poor camera quality (iPhone), I couldn’t take a decent picture. Finally moving on, we made it to the other side and found a nice place for dinner (forgotten the name).
The following day, we decided to go up to the cable car. This is definitely something I recommend doing, and can’t really understand why Lonely Planet didn’t suggest it – not that we rely solely on LP, infact it infuriates us most of the time, but it’s often a good reference and it just surprised us, that’s all! Anyway, up we went on our rickety cable car, in which we were the only passengers.
The scenery is as awesome as you’d expect it to be! There’s an excellent viewpoint at the top where you disembark, and a couple of temples. It was pretty damn hot up there, but nevertheless we decided to walk all the way down again… there are a LOT of steps, but it’s a really nice change of scene… just don’t disturb the monkeys on the way down!!!!!!!
By the time we were back at our guesthouse, the sun was setting and we thought it might be nice to watch it over dinner. For this reason we made our way to Sunset View Restaurant, and were disappointed to discover that another restaurant had built itself higher in front of Sunset View, right in the way of all the colourful action. Nevertheless we stayed and enjoyed the food and beer regardless.
We took it pretty easy the next day, wandering around as you do, visiting the shops and temples, enjoying cups of coffee, etc. etc. At 4.30 we went for the recommended boat trip, for 200Rs… it basically picked us up from a particular point of the lake, slowly meandered around the two palace/hotel islands, picked up and dropped off people at another point of the lake, then dropped us off at our original point, and picked others up. Basically it’s just a loop of the lake, which could be nice to do while the sun sets, but the “trip” only takes about 20 minutes – you’re best off just viewing it from a rooftop. Still, it was nice to see the city and the lake from different angles.
That evening, we bumped into a guy who had persisted to ask us the day before to visit his shop and see his artwork. We declined yesterday, but this time I felt guilty so agreed to go and see his miniature paintings, and surprisingly we weren’t even asked if we wanted to buy anything, he was just proud of his work.
I totally loved Udaipur and am pretty sad to leave. I’m not sure if it’s because I just hated Ahmedabad so much, but it was just so nice and chilled out. It could be because of the time we went, but it was so quiet. No shopkeepers hassled us, it wasn’t swarmed with tourists, admittedly at 41 degrees, it was pretty hot but it’s very difficult to complain in a place like this.
Restaurants/cafes we’d recommend would include: