October through March is the perfect time of the year to explore India. Monsoon is over, for the most part, and the climate is far kinder for tourists. Narrowing down where to visit might prove a little more difficult. The Golden Triangle tour of Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur will probably always rank very highly for most westerners. But consider a slight detour and add Udaipur to your itinerary. I enjoyed a 4-day 3-night stay recently at THE OBEROI UDAVILAS, which proved ample time to explore the local area plus have time to relax at the lovely Oberoi hotel. Here are my suggestions for five things to do in Udaipur.
Tip: Book a private tour guide and driver for at least a half day. You will be able to move around at your own pace and will learn so much more. The hotels will be able to help you with this booking and have recommended guides.
The City Palace situated on the banks of Lake Pichola took over 400 years to build. Each Maharana added his own design ideas to create what you see today. As you walk around you will notice a blend of Chinese, European, and Medieval architecture.
Wondering how the trees are growing on the rooftop garden of the palace? Thanks to our guide we learned that the palace is built entirely from marble and granite. The trees are directly in the soil of the slope as the palace is built into the hillside. When you look from the ground you will notice the ‘fake’ windows on one side that hide the hillside. Because of the height and position, the views from the hanging gardens at the top of the Palace are spectacular, if the weather cooperates.
Tip: The tour will take you through many narrow corridors and up and down plenty of stairs. Be prepared to walk and climb quite a bit. There are many large tour groups inside the palace. We were very happy to have our own dedicated guide. We could move us along to quieter spots to tell us more about what we were viewing.
There is an entrance fee to visit the museum plus a separate charge for the use of a camera. Be aware that you will need to pay an additional charge if you wish to use the camera on your cell phone. The guides are quite strict about monitoring for improper use. You will be given a pass to tie to your camera to make it clear that you have paid the appropriate fee. Proceeds from the fees go directly to the foundation established to maintain the Palace. Allow at least 1-2 hours for your tour.
A short walk along the same street as the Palace will lead you to the Jagdish Mandir Temple. Built in 1651 AD this is the largest temple in Udaipur. The three-storied temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. To reach the main temple you will need to climb a steep section of marble steps. At the top of the stairs are two large stone elephants. On the day we visited the area was extremely busy as it was a festival day. Flower sellers had set up shop at the base of the 32 steps.
Having a guide for a visit to the Temple is well worth the investment. You will discover so much information about the ornate carvings and history of this area. Look closely as you might be surprised to see what some of the carvings depict.
Entry to the temple is free although there are various places for offerings. You will need to remove your shoes to enter the temple. Be expected to pay the man who stores the shoes 5-10 rupees.
Udaipur is often referred to as the Venice of India because of the various lakes. Lake Pichola is the largest at roughly 3 miles long, 2 miles wide, and 30 feet deep. The man-made lake dates back to 1362 when Pichhu Banjara built the lagoon during the ruling period of Maharana Lakha. The lake is home to the famous Lake Palace, now a hotel run by the Taj group. For movie enthusiasts, the Lake Palace was the location of the James Bond film Octupussy. Any visit to Udaipur is not complete without a boat trip of some variety.
Our first experience of the lake was upon arrival in Udaipur. After a roughly 30 minute drive from the airport, our chauffeur transferred us to the hotels boat. Crossing Lake Pichola to arrive at the hotel at sunrise was quite spectacular. The hotel offered sunset tours of the lake but we opted to experience a private afternoon tea. The Oberoi staff did a wonderful job of decorating the boat with comfy pillows, setting a beautiful table with bone china and crystal glasses. We filled our tummies with delicious sandwiches, cakes, scones, and copious amounts of tea, coffee, and soft drinks. The boat ride was a very romantic experience that I thoroughly recommend.
There are many places that you can enjoy a little shopping while in Udaipur. After a quick discussion with our guide about the kind of items we might be interested in viewing we were driven a short distance to an art gallery. Be aware that the guides might well be on a commission. So guides do have a vested interest in taking you to their favorite shops and encouraging you to spend.
Miniature art from the artists at the Mewer School of Art is a popular choice for many looking to take home a memento. Prices vary considerably depending on the size of the artwork and the mastery of the artist. Silver and jewelry are other good options to purchase in this region. There are various markets around the city with sellers offering a variety of handmade handicrafts such as toys and puppets.
We certainly had a fun few hours visiting the art studio and went home with far more than we had anticipated, but they will be lasting memories of our trip to Udaipur.
There are a number of luxury hotels in this region. Make the most of the picturesque surroundings, delicious cuisine, and soothing spa treatments that are on offer. The waterside setting of THE OBEROI UDAVILAS with its beautifully manicured gardens and alfresco eating options spread over 50 acres is the perfect place to unwind. The hotel was built only a few years ago, and yet made to look as if it has been onsite for hundreds of years. The design of the hotel with its interconnecting domes and corridors reflects the layout of Udaipur whose seven lakes are linked by canals.
The Oberoi Udavilas offers a variety of luxury suites. On of our favorite features of the hotel was the wonderful spa. We indulged in a variety of massage, facials, and pedicures during our stay. We also enjoyed using the fitness center and the large communal pool.
We enjoyed a good balance of sightseeing and relaxation during our trip. But there are plenty of other options open to you in Udaipur if you want to see more. Here are another 5 Things to do in Udaipur.
Sas-Bahu Temple Tour – As recommended on TripAdvisor.com
Bagore Ki Haveli – As recommended on GoIndiaAbout.com
Saheliyon ki Bari – As recommended by MakeMyTrip.com
Bhartiya Lok Kala Museum – As recommended on TourMyIndia.com
Kumbhalgarh Fort – As recommended on TransIndiaTravels.com
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