Udaipur is something that always evoked a romantic image for me. Through the images, I had built that in my mind after reading about the Lake Palace Udaipur. About the beautiful palaces and the royalty. Most importantly through its association with the personalities like Maharana Pratap, Rani Padmini, and Meera Bai. All belonging to the clan that has ruled Udaipur for centuries. In fact, I just learned that they are the longest serving dynasty in the world. About 76 generations ruling in continuation.
Places to visit in Udaipur, the Royal City
City Palace, Udaipur
Popular sightseeing options in Udaipur are City Palace, where the Maharanas still live. They have converted a part of the palace into a museum which is open to general public. Another part has been converted into two hotels and in the third part, the royal family continues to live.
Fateh Mahal houses a crystal gallery along with the Darbar hall, which houses probably some of the biggest chandeliers of the world. Maharanas have sure moved well with the times. As soon as they lost the pension that the erstwhile kings used to get, they converted their properties into heritage hotels. And are living off well through the ancestral property. Crystal gallery is a good to visit the venue. Though the high cost of the ticket may make most visitors think many times before they decide to enter it.
Lake Palace, Udaipur
Lake Palace is another famous attraction, which is a palace converted into a hotel right in the middle of Lake Pichola. You can get a view of this hotel from most areas around the city palace, Lal ghat, Gangaur Ghat and Hanuman ghat. Though to visit you have to be a guest of the hotel. The pure white palace does make an impressive sight. Especially at night when it is well lit up and gives you a perfect shadow in the water. Being surrounded by hills on all sides, Udaipur provides interesting perspectives for shutterbugs. One can capture sunrise and sunset with silhouettes of heritage buildings.
Bagore Ki Haveli, Udaipur
Bagore ki Haveli, an old royal guest house which has now been converted into a folk art museum. The Haveli hosts a folk dance and music program every evening. This was the highlight of my trip to Udaipur. I would recommend it to anyone who visits the city. The artists, the puppeteer, the Chari-dancers, the Terah-Taali performance and the bhavai dance are definitely worth a watch. The performances are done without any pomp and show in the courtyard of the Haveli.
Royal Vintage Cars Museum, Udaipur
There is a garden restaurant which also has a collection of Royal cars over the ages. About 20 old vintage cars along with the new experimental solar rickshaws can be viewed here. The restaurant serves a Rajasthani thali at a comparatively reasonable price. This is another place I would recommend to the visitors of Udaipur.
Then there are old bazaars and numerous shops selling artifacts from all over India. The miniature paintings and the silver jewelry are the probable items that you can buy. Do not forget to bargain as the first price quoted to you is definitely a tourist price. Especially if you have a camera hanging around your neck. Our guide told us that just like Jaipur is a Pink City, Jodhpur a blue one and Udaipur is a white city. In Udaipur, most people like to paint their houses white and that’s how it is a white city.
Udaipur is a perfect example of the tourism economy. It has converted all its old structures, old Havelis into heritage hotels. Owners are minting money from them. The whole city is geared up to handle tourists from every part of the world. No wonder it is home to some of the costliest properties in the world. Most old Havelis have been restored, with interestingly painted facades and aesthetically done courtyards. Most popular Udaipur hotels are housed in these Havelis.
Shops around the tourist area’s of Udaipur city are designed to handle international customers. They sell items from around India, most prominently the garments. There are a lot of tailor shops that keep the fabric. And they can make out any dress from your chosen material. Most ubiquitous are the western outfits with Indian fabrics. The shop owners are courteous and would willingly explain you the lineage of the merchandise that they are selling. You may be lost as an Indian if you try to find the local Rajasthani stuff including food.
Most of the hotels and restaurants in the old city area Lal ghat and Gangaur ghat areas served anything from Pasta to Sizzlers to baked stuff. And some general Indian food stuff mostly suited for the western palette. We had a tough time trying to locate the Rajasthani local food and locally made gift items. When it comes to setting shops in tourist areas, Kashmiris are the best. You can find them selling Pashmina’s (I thought to sell real Pashmina was banned) and carpets anywhere and everywhere. Probably reminiscent of the times when Kashmir was the Mecca of tourism in India.
It’s a nice city to visit, with colors of royalty and grandeur all around. Preferably visit it during winters. You would enjoy it more.
Recommend you to read following Places to visit in Rajasthan.