India’s Most Romantic Luxury City, Udaipur - A Guide to Rajasthan’s Lake City
The charming and romantic city of Udaipur is India’s answer to Venice.
Also known as the “City of Lakes,” Udaipur is the historical capital of the erstwhile Kingdom of Mewar. It is famous for its serene lakes, regal palaces, palatial Havelis (mansions), glorious temples, folk music, and Mewari charm.
A web of seven interconnected lakes, nestled in the lush green Aravalli Hills, has earned Udaipur its moniker the “Venice of the East.” Its biggest and most important lake, Pichola is one of the city’s main tourist attractions. Most of Udaipur’s iconic cultural and historical attractions are located on the banks of this stunningly beautiful lake.
Read on to learn more about India’s most romantic luxury city.
BRIEF HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
The city of Udaipur was founded by Maharana of Mewar Udai Singh II in 1559 AD, after he moved his capital from Chittorgarh to what is now a city named after him.
The move was necessitated by strategic considerations as the old capital was vulnerable to the rampaging Mughal Empire in the North. But the Maharana was also won over by the gorgeous natural setting of the region: a high plateau with a stunning lake in the center, surrounded by the picturesque Aravalli Mountain Ranges.
In the centuries that followed, Udaipur rose in stature and power and preserved its freedom until 1947, when it was merged into the Indian Union. Under the British empire, Udaipur enjoyed quasi-autonomy as one of the 560 princely states of India.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Maharana Pratap Airport at Udaipur is a major airport. It is well connected with other airports in India (like Mumbai, Delhi, and Jaipur) and the some of the other major cities with frequent flights.
Udaipur is located 396 km (almost 7 hours drive) from Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. The drive is long but very comfortable. You can get to Udaipur by bus or private taxi.
The Udaipur City Railway Station, the main railway station of the city, is well connected with major railway centers of India.
It is an overnight train journey from Delhi and a 5-6 hour train ride from Jaipur.
WHAT TO DO IN UDAIPUR
- A Romantic Boat Ride in Lake Pichola
Lake Pichola is one of India’s most beautiful lakes. With a backdrop of the gorgeous Aravalli Hills and the stunning landscape of Udaipur city, a romantic boat ride in Lake Pichola is a pure delight.
There are other small lakes like Swaroop Sagar, Fateh Sagar, and Arsi Vilas Lake that you can also check out.
- A Royal Stay in a Mewari Palace
As the land of royalty, Udaipur brims with majestic palaces, Mansions (castle mansions), and royal retreats.
Many of these have now been transformed into luxury heritage hotels that come with all the modern luxury amenities.
- A Heritage Tour of the City
The city of Udaipur is dotted with glorious temples, palaces, Havelis, and monuments.
We highly recommend that you take a heritage tour of the city with an expert guide.
Landmarks recommended by Luxury India Tours: City Palace, Jag Mandir, Neemach Mata Temple, Jagdish Temple, Saheliyon Ki Bari Garden, and Vintage Car Museum.
- Feast Like a Mewari Maharaja
In Mewari, you have to feast in style. We recommend that you try out Laal Maas (a red meat dish prepared in spice), Dal Bati Churma (lentils), and Bikaneri Bhujia.
- Watch a Classic Ghoomar Dance Performance
Each Rajasthani region has its distinct folk dance tradition. But no Rajasthani dance is as electrifying and exciting as the Mewari Ghoomar.
- Grab Some Udaipur Handicrafts
Udaipur is famed for its ethnic crafts and a unique painting tradition that goes back to the 1700s AD. These cloth and paper paintings attempt to capture the “Bhavas” of the human lived experience. Bhavas are the “mood” or zeitgeist of the era.
There are so many things you can grab as souvenirs—ethnic garments, carpets, and jewelry.
MUST-SEE PLACES IN UDAIPUR
- Grand City Palace
Built in the 1560s AD by Maharana Udai Singh II, after whom the city he founded is named, the City Palace is built atop a hill and is considered one of the finest exhibitions of the Rajput Rajasthani tradition of architecture.
It overlooks the city of Udaipur and gives you splendid views of key landmarks of the city like the Lake Palace, Jag Mandir, Jagdish Temple, and Monsoon Palace.
- Lake Pichola
Surrounded by the beautiful Aravalli Hills, and a shoreline dotted with stunning temples, palaces, bathing Ghats, and Havelis, Lake Pichola is the most romantic destination in all of Udaipur.
- Jag Mandir Palace
The Jag Mandir Palace is nestled on an island in the middle of Lake Pichola. Also known as the “Lake Gaden Palace” the Jag Mandir Palace is named after Maharana Jagat Singh (1628-52).
It was used as a summer retreat and a royal guest house by the Sisodia Rajput Dynasty—the rules of the Kingdom of Mewar.
- Jagdish Temple
Built in 1651 AD, the Jagdish Palace is located right outside the royal palace.
Featuring a double-story Mandapa (hall) and Saandhara (covered ambulatory), the largest temple in Udaipur stands almost 80 feet high.
- Saheliyon Ki Bari Historical Garden
Located on the banks of the Fateh Sagar Lake, the “Courtyard of the Maidens” or Saheliyon Ki Bari was built by Maharana Sangram Singh (1710-34) for the ladies of the royal family.
As per legend, his queen was accompanied by 48 maids in her marriage. The garden was offered as a gift by the king to his queen and her maidens.
- Bagore ki Haveli
This Haveli is located on the Gangori Ghat (embankment) of Lake Pichola. It construction is credited to Amar Chand Badwa, the Prime Minister of Mewar (1751-1778 AD).
Bagore ki Haveli has 138 rooms, and numerous terraces, courtyards, and balconies.
- Vintage and Class Car Museum
If you are an enthusiast of vintage cars and automobiles, Udaipur’s Vintage Car Museum boasts an impressive collection of classic cars used by the royal family of Udaipur.
These include Rolls Royce, Cadillacs, Ford-A Convertible, Vauhall-12 and MG-TC Convertibles.