Called the most romantic city in India, the first thing that struck me while driving in was not romance, not even in the Bollywood sense, but the colour white. The Lake Palace, the City Palace, the Garden Palace, the big and small havelis – all white, shining in the bright summer sun, inlaid with lakes which helped to set off the whiteness.
Over the next few days, the other key note was that Udaipur was a city of havelis turned into hotels – it’s a moot point as to how many are genuine old havelis, and how many were built more recently to cash in on the tourist trade. I found many of them near the Chand Pole area. I did stay in one of them and wouldn’t really like to repeat the experience. A much better choice was a small, pretty and cute 7-room hotel, right on the Fateh Sagar Lake, in a quiet, peaceful, low traffic part of the city. And I ‘m NOT going to tell you it’s name and where it exactly is, so there!
You can spend a wonderful week, or two, or a month exploring the city and the great historic places around it. Exploring the palaces and museums will take quite a few days. The City Palace, with its magnificent museum, is a must-visit.
The Palace is very well geared up for hordes of tourists – the guides, the commentaries in various languages, the tours, all are really well managed. The individual exhibits vary from the grand to the intricate, all beautiful. I can imagine an art-lover spending hours looking at the various artifacts on display.
Udaipur also has a nice vintage car museum, at the Garden Hotel. The collection is nice, without being hugely impressive. Maybe I am spoilt by the hundred-odd vintage and classic cars on display just outside of Ahmedabad. The cars are beautifully kept, and the person in charge of showing us around was obviously in love with these beauties. My favourite was this 1924 Rolls-Royce.
Since tomes and coffee-table books galore have been written about Udaipur, I’ll just stay with my own little favourites – the Solar Observatory, which I was not allowed to visit; the statue of Rana Pratap on the little hill overlooking Fateh Sagar Lake; and Saheliyon ki Bari.
The shimmering beauty of the Observatory a little after sun up was breath-taking.
Saheliyon ki Bari – the Courtyard of the Maidens – is a really beautiful garden with gorgeous flowers and fountains. Very pretty indeed – and a great magnet for the selfie crowd. I guess one can’t escape the latter anywhere nowadays.
Around the Saheliyon ki Bari, there are tons of art and artifacts shops. You enter them at your own risk.