Udaipur the beautiful city of lakes

Udaipur the beautiful city of lakes

Udaipur the beautiful city of lakes – When you first arrive in Udaipur, the first thing that you notice is that you cannot enter the city, but you arrive at a car park where the final leg of your journey to your hotel is by tuktuk as cars are not allowed inside the city walls, and you could go on foot, if you are up to it – the planet will give you good Karma if you do.
The effect that this gives is almost unique in India – a quiet city, where the silence is broken only by the tuktuks and the omnipresent sound of car horns and the smell of exhaust fumes is gladly lacking.
I know we shouldn’t have favourites, but Udaipur is our favourite city that we have been to in India – it is just fabulous and has a very laid-back relaxed air about it, but what can we do and see here?

Udaipur was voted the Best City in the World in 2009 by the Travel and Leisure magazine – now that is an accolade!
Udaipur has been used for many film sets, including Octopussy – and there are many references to this in the city, it  is mentioned under the spelling Oodeypore in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book as the birthplace of Bagheera, the fictional panther in the king’s Menagerie, and has been used in The Jewel in The Crown and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Gandhi, to name but a few.

City palace & Ghats Udaipur

The City palace & Ghats Udaipur

Lake Pichola

After the effect of the almost quiet city, the next impact is the lake, Lake Pichola is beautiful, hemmed by the Aravali hills, which you will see later is a great backdrop for the sunsets here.
Udaipur is known as ‘The city of Lakes’ which is pretty self-explanatory as there are seven lakes surrounding the city, the name Udaipur comes from the founder of the city, Udai Singh ll – and it has been called the most romantic destination in India.
There are two palaces on islands on the lake; the Lake Palace was built as a royal summer palace. Built of white marble, the palace is now a luxury 5 Star hotel, if you are feeling like treating yourself to a luxury room with a lake view. The other is Jag Mandir, also known as the “Lake Garden Palace”, the royal family used the palace as a summer resort and pleasure palace.
The best views of the city palace and the city are seen from a boat, trips leave regularly, but the best ones are just before sunset and it is for this reason that these are the ones that get booked up very quickly, but you can book in advance and it is certainly best to, to avoid disappointment.
The boat trips stop off at one of the islands so you can stretch your legs and get some amazing shots of the sunset over The Aravali hills and the city.
As dusk falls the birds fly home to roost and out come flocks of flying foxes, who usually sleep off the summer heat in trees along the waterfront – this is quite a sight to see.

Flying fxes at sunbset over lake Pichola Udaipur

Flying foxes at sunbset over lake Pichola Udaipur

The City Palace

The city palace is a wonderful building that is a must to visit, this is what Wikipedia has to say about it; Standing on the east bank of Lake Pichola is a massive series of palaces built at different times from 1559. Its main entrance is through the triple-arched gate – the Tripolia, built in 1725. This gate leads to a series of courtyards, overlapping partitions, terraces, corridors and gardens. The palace now houses a museum with many antique articles, paintings, decorative furniture and utensils from the royal era. Photos and video are allowed inside, which is not always the case for historic buildings in India, although you will have to pay the excess charge as per usual.

City Palace Udaipur

City Palace Udaipur

Temples

As in most Indian cities, there a lot of temples in Udaipur and if you can’t see them, you will definitely hear them, just have a wander around and discover. Along the lakesdie there are many bathing ghats, which often signify the nearby presence of a temple.

Bathing Ghats Udiapur

Bathing Ghats Udaipur

Traditional dances

There are traditional dance shows daily  at the Darohar Folk Dance centre at Bagore-Ki-Haveli, near the bathing ghats pictured above, where you can see a show of Bhavai dancing with women dancers balancing up to seven or more brass pitchers as they dance

Ghoomar dance is a part of the royal culture of the Mewar Region of Rajasthan. This is a community dance for women and performed on auspicious occasions where the ladies move gracefully in circles and Kachchhi Ghodi, which is a type of pantomime with men on dummy horses or tigers brandishing swords, complete with a background puppet show. It really is all a bit surreal, but well worth watching.

Kachchhi Ghodi dancer

Kachchhi Ghodi dancer

Food & Drink

There are some nice rooftop restaurants along the lakeside, often as part of the hotels, but open to non-residents with a great view over the lake.

Most of Rajasthan is predominately vegetarian and the dishes are really nice here, try the Mewari curries with a cool beer or a lassi.

Food in Rajashtan is always good, but for meat eaters, nothing is better than Laal maans, a hot curry made from lamb, mutton or goat – a must try, as too is butter chicken, which can be found almost anywhere, but in Rajasthan is it particulalry good. Finish off with a frothy Kulhad coffee, served in an earthenware Kulhad or stick to the masala chai, which is always good in Rajasthan.

Street Food

Street food can be found both on the street and in the restaurants, try Pyaaz Kachri, onions in a deep fried dough with chutney, Vada Pav, a crispy fried potato patty,  placed  inside a soft bun with a generous spread of spicy green chutney and a fried chilli on the side. Mirchi vada is a green chilli stuffed with potatoes and deep fried as a fritter. Paani Puri, filled with spiced mashed potato, tamarind and served in crunchy puff pastry balls.

Curry and Roti bread

Curry and Roti bread

Markets

After visiting the city palace, we fell into the old tourist trap of being caught by a tuktuk driver, but we really wanted to, as we were after some traditional Rajasthan textiles wall hangings. Our driver grabbed us as we left with the best tuktuk deal in the universe, we bargained him down to 50% of what he was offering and he agreed with a waggling of his head and sked us where we wanted to go. ‘Just a tour of the city’ we said, so off we went and as if by clockwork, he pulled up into a large house, which he said was a place that did traditional textiles – we hadn’t asked to come here, but knew he would take us here. We looked around and after some furious haggling, we set off with our goods. We then asked the driver to take us to a market.

The market was fantastic, complete with all the colours, sounds and smells of an Indian market, row upon row of fresh fruit and vegetables, spices, textiles and the usual street food stalls – a wonderful place. We bought some conconut water and some pakoras from one of the vendors and carried on to a spice store with shelf upon shelf of spices and teas.

Fruit & veg Udaipur

Fruit & vegetable Udaipur

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