A Royal Town – Udaipur, Rajasthan
Ho, we’re not suggesting you enact the The Prince and the Pauper — Rajasthan has a reputation for being royal, but there’s plenty there you can do at a commoner’s prices. Start with the 400-year-old City Palace and make your way through royal history. Then, spend an enchanting hour on the water with a boat ride on Lake Pichola, the 14th-century waterbody surrounded by fantastic architecture.
The Saheliyon ki Bari gardens, built in the 18th century for a queen and her attendants, is a delightful landscape of lotus pools, fountains and flowers. If that makes you want some testosterone, head to the Vintage and Classic Car Collection Museum and sigh over art that moves — literally. If you’d like to soak in Udaipur, spend some time on the acclaimed Delwara Heritage Walk that covers temples, palaces, regional culture and history.
Or head to the Kami Mata Temple for gorgeous city and lake views. After spiritual blessings, it’s time for material ones – go shopping for bargains at Jagdish Temple Road, specifically jootis and leather stationery; remember to haggle like fisherwomen. You can also shop for handmade souvenirs at Sadhna and take home more than memories of Udaipur. Other must-sees are the Bagore ki Haveli museum with its excellent showcase of Mewar arts and and the lit-up Sajjangarh Monsoon Palace in the evening. The Eklinji Temple (avoid on Mondays) and the Ahar Cenotaphs offer space for quiet reflection. If you have a longer stay in Udaipur, consider day-trips to Ranakpur’s Jain Temples (90km), the massive Kumbalgarh Fort (100km) and Chittorgarh Fort, which is India’s largest (120km).
LEAVE ON A JET PLANE OR TRAIN: Return flights from Mumbai start at 72USD and from New Delhi at 53USD. If you’re taking the train, take the 12963 Mewar Express and return by the 12964 Mewar Express. From Mumbai, take the 22901 UDZ Super Fast and return by the 12996 UDZ BDTS Super Fast.
GET AROUND: Udaipur is fairly compact and you can walk or take autos- remember to haggle an fix auto rates beforehand. You can hire a two wheeler. For travelling outside Udaipur, you can use local or private bus services.
STAY: Neat, traditional and welcoming, Madri Haveli is a real find Ortry Devra Homestay Multi-city chain Zostel Udaipur is a great option for young people. And the quirkily-named Moustache Hostel has amazing views of Lake Pichola.
EAT AND DRINK: There are some definitive Rajasthani experiences you must have in Udaipur-a hearty, traditional thali at Natraj Dining Hall is one of them. Experience a sundowner with delicious cuisine at Ambrai, overlooking Lake Pichola. Or head to 1559 AD, named for the year Udaipur was founded, for authentic cuisine.
WHEN TO GO: July to August is off-peak season, with the rains in attendance and deals like cheap hotels, lesser crowds and cool weather- so we’d recommend going then.