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Udaipur is probably the most romantic place in India. It’s a small city of gleaming white palaces, set on a lake and surrounded by a mountain range. Whether you’re visiting alone, or with a partner or friend, it’s a challenge not to fall in love with the place.
As the former royal capital, Udaipur feels exactly that – royal. As you wander round the 500-year-old City Palace or gaze out to Jag Niwas (the former royal summer retreat floating in the middle of the lake), it’s not hard to imagine the ancient dynasty in action.
But, as ever in India, it’s the contrast that gives Udaipur its charm. Move seamlessly from regal rooms and ornate balconies to the shabby streets of the Old Town, where you’ll dodge the cows and barter for treasures. Or spend an evening overlooking the ghats, the steps leading down to the lake, which really teem with life. You can spend hours watching children bathe in the shallows, women washing their rainbow-coloured saris and dozens of people hanging about, chatting to their friends.
Udaipur ticks three pretty crucial boxes: food, art and shopping. Here, you can watch a cookery demonstration in a family-run haveli; witness artists paint miniscule designs on to squares of silk; and stuff your suitcase with wall hangings, silk scarves and silver jewellery.
You can fill your days in Udaipur with countless exciting activities and still go to bed feeling rested and relaxed. It is absolutely not to be missed.
You’ll never be stuck on what to do in Udaipur. Dive in to the history, the food or the arts and crafts, or just find a waterfront café and watch the world go by. The choice is yours.
It’s easy to see why the City Palace is one of the main tourist attractions in Udaipur. The ornate fortress-like building sprawls across the east shore of Lake Pichola. A collection of winding stairs, balconies and turrets, this palace is perhaps one of the most stunning in the whole of India.
To see the City Palace from every angle – and check out the floating palace Jag Niwas (royal holiday destination turned luxury hotel) up close – take a boat trip around the lake. Watching the sun set behind the hills and the city’s buildings illuminate from the inside is quite a spectacle.
Explore the surrounding areas on an Udaipur tour – try a trip to Fateh Sagar lake or Sahelion-ki-Bari, a beautiful walled garden. Jump in an autoricksaw and wind your way through the hills to the bottom of Machhala Hill, where you can get a cable car to the top for fantastic views over the city, lakes and mountain range. Top tip: head there at sunset for an amazing sight.
India is full of bizarre surprises, and this remains the case in Udaipur. The city featured in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy and, despite the movie being more than 30 years old, the residents haven’t quite got over it. In many of the more casual restaurants, you can eat your delicious thali while watching Roger Moore lead a car chase through the very same streets you have just walked.
This one’s special. Relaxed but vibrant, traditional but up-and-coming, Udaipur’s got it all and remains a firm favourite for visitors to India. You might come for the sights, but you’ll stay for the overwhelmingly positive atmosphere here. Head over to our blogs to read what others have got up to in Udaipur.
If the Earth’s the body, then India's the soul - a land of spirituality, contrasts and culture.
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