The hill range covered in lush greens, alluring beauty of the lakes, palaces that tell history, and streets that impose culture, art and beauty all around is found in the romantic city Udaipur, situated in Rajasthan. Renowned as one of the most romantic places in the world, The City of Lakes Udaipur is about festivities, old palaces and havelis, grand celebrations, shopping, elegance and memories soaked in unparalleled beauty.
When in Udaipur, go beyond the touristy tour and explore the city as a traveller, admire the architecture, learn about the history, practice art, make connections with the local and go back with an enthralling experience.
Give a look at the following top ‘non-touristy’ things to do during your stay in the city called the ‘Venice of the East.’
Forts and Palaces:
There are a number of forts and palaces which have unique stories of their own. Situated around 65 Km away from the city is Kumbhalgarh Fort which is known to be the birthplace of Maharana Pratap. This 15th century constructed fort is also included in the World Heritage Sites and has 38 Km long wall which is recognised as the second longest wall in the world after the Great Wall of China. Sajjangarh or Monsoon Palace is another hill top wonder which provides a panoramic view of the entire city and one of the most beautiful sunsets.
A number of forts and palaces in Udaipur district have turned into grand hotels that one can visit for a luxurious retreat. Some of them are Fatehgarh located in Nai Village, Karni Fort in Bambora which is situated 45 Km away from the main city, Bujera Fort in village Bujera, 18th century palace Raas Devigarh, Deogarh Mahal and Fort Seengh Sagar situated around 3 hours away from Udaipur and few more which will give you an awe-inspiring travel experience.
Discover the rustic charm, Rajasthani paintings, and old architecture, enjoy shopping and interact with the locals in the heritage walk around the old parts of the city. Walking through the fascinating lanes of the city and numerous Ghats, you can unravel the history in the palaces, gardens, walls and houses that exude the wonderment of the Mewar dynasty.
Bicycle tours are one of the most exciting things to do in Udaipur as you get to see not only the interior parts of the city but also take a ride along the outskirts that cover lakes, dams, villages, forests and a relaxing time in the private lodges if one wishes to stay overnight. There are multiple tour operators who provide bicycle tours in and around the city at affordable rates.
The City Palace:
The foremost thing to do when in a new city is to explore the history and no other place offers it than the City Palace which is situated on the banks of the Lake Pichola. The palace was constructed under the leadership of Maharana Udai Singh and was completed by his successors. The structure is a blend of splendid architecture and has 11 palaces inside it that showcase antique furniture, unique paintings, ornamental tiles, big corridors, pavilions, gardens and other heritage marvel. The palace is also home to the present King Maharaja Arvind Singh Mewar and his family. Inside the palace is Crystal Gallery which has everything from an ashtray to cupboard made of crystals and is a delight for all to witness.
In the periphery of the City Palace are two magnificent hotels called Fateh Prakash and Shiv Niwas which are open for tourists as well as locals to enjoy scenic view and sumptuous food.
Dip Your Fingers in Art & Culture:
Since Udaipur is a hub of art and culture, you can meet a number of artists proficient in age old miniature paintings or Rajput art, modern paintings and contemporary art from whom you can learn a few lessons. Shilpgram is a cultural hub situated on the outskirts of the city that showcases textile, crafts and handicrafts of not only Rajasthan but of different states. If in Udaipur, you must visit Bagore ki Haveli which is next to Gangaur Ghat for the enthralling folk performances during the evening. You can know more about the culture at Ahar Cenotaphs and Ahar Museum, local art galleries situated in the old city or visit Bougainvillea Art Gallery to see the extraordinary work of artists.
Lakes and Boat Ride:
There is a reason why Udaipur is called the City of Lakes as it has 8 major lakes which you can visit: Lake Pichola, Lake Fateh Sagar, Udai Sagar Lake, Badi Lake, Swaroop Sagar, Goverdhan Sagar, Rang Sagar and Kumharia Talab. Jaisamand Lake which is Asia’s second largest artificial lake is situated 27 Km away from the city and is a ‘must visit’ places.
A number of dams, waterfalls and small lakes are situated around the city which are famous picnic spots and are situated amid nature including Nandeshwar Dam, Madar, Rajsamand Lake, Ubeshwarji, Sisarma, Kundeshwar Mahadev, Gotmeshwar Mahadev, Tidi Dam, Bagheri Ka Naka, Nandsamand, and Jalburj etc. where you may camp, hike and spend a day away from civilisation and in the laps of nature.
When planning to do things in Udaipur, you must take a boat ride in the pristine blue waters of the Lake Pichola and visit Jag Mandir, a fort situated on an island. During the ride, you will also get a chance to see the fairy-tale like Lake Palace of which the classic white structure will take your breath away. The plush palace which is now one of the finest heritage hotels in India is a dream destination. Another boat ride is available at Fateh Sagar which takes you to Nehru Garden, an open space garden in the middle of the lake.
Once in Udaipur, you must try the authentic Rajasthani food at Natraj Dining Hall which is opposite to Railway Station and street food at Sukhadia Circle and Mumbaiya Bazar situated at Fateh Sagar where a number of stalls remain open till late hours providing typical street food from Pav Bhaji, Bhel Puri, to Chinese, Italian, South Indian and much more.
Recently, a lot of street food vendors have found fame with their special dishes that were at one time, only known to a few hundreds. Some of these famous dishes and vendors are Potato filled Flatbread or Aloo ka Parantha by Sai Baba Nashta Centre at Gulab Bagh, Flattened Rice or Poha at Udiapole, Sukhadia Circle and Shastri Circle, Kachori by Shri Lala Mishthan shop near Asthal Temple, Bread Pakora by Pandit Ji at Fateh Sagar, Vada Pav near Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandir, Pyaaz Kachori by JMB at Chetak Circle, Boil Egg Bhurji by Jai Kumar at Chetak Circle, Falafil Sandwich or Fakhiri Sandwich at Bohrwadi, Chaat and Pani Puri at Bapu Bazar and Lemon Soda at Hathipol and Shastri Circle etc.
Besides the given touristy spots in almost every guide book, you can visit the lesser known spots, temples to get the most of your Udaipur visit. Some of these places are Ranakpur Temple, Kumbhalgarh Sanctuary, Biological Park at Sajjangarh, Eklingji Temple, Alsigarh, Saas Bahu Temple in Nagda besides Bagela Lake, Pipliyaji, Raita, Sitla Mata Sanctuary, Ruthi Rani Ro Mahal, Hindu Jagat Temple or the mini Khajuraho of Rajasthan, Kukreshwar Mahadev, Jhameshwarji Temple, Kathar, Jhadol Safari Resort and Baghdara Nature Park at Umerda which are lesser known by tourists as well as locals but provide a breathtaking view, especially if visited during monsoon season.
Little Bit of This & That:
If these aforementioned ideas haven’t satiated your travelling vibes, then the best ‘non-touristy’ thing to do in Udaipur is spend days learning the art of Yoga and Meditation, Horse Back Riding, indulge in volunteer work in water conservation, plantation, education and health care via some of the esteemed organisations such as Shikshantar Andolan, Animal Aid, Seva Mandir, Impetus, Daan Foundation, Robin Hood Army, Pukaar, Jobs4Her or pump up your adventurous streak through hiking and trekking camps in Udaipur.
What are you waiting for because Modi’s government will remain in power for the next 2 years, Bollywood will keep promoting senseless yet extravagant, big budget movies with no story line and your neighbours will keep interfering in your personal matter. So, pack your bags and buy the tickets for Udaipur and spend those days of your life making memories. Happy Holidaying!