I fell under Udaipur’s spell almost as soon as I arrived. Compared to Jaipur, which is colourful and chaotic, Udaipur’s serenity made me feel instantly relaxed.
When I was planning my third trip to India, Udaipur wasn’t on my radar.
I’m really glad it was added to my itinerary as it’s now one of my favourite Indian destinations. With dreamy domed palaces, lovely lakes and the green Aravalli Hills in the background, the scenery is stunning. Beyond the views, lies a compact city with plenty of character.
It was my first trip to India with Abercrombie & Kent and I fell under Udaipur’s spell almost as soon as I arrived. Compared to Jaipur, which is colourful and chaotic, Udaipur’s serenity made me feel instantly relaxed.
A cruise around Lake Pichola, a manmade lake built in the 14th century, gave me a chance to soak up tranquil views.
We cruised past Lal Ghat, where bare-breasted women soaped themselves at the water’s edge and ladies in brightly coloured saris dipped their toes in the water.
Udaipur was built in 1567 by Udai Singh II. It was the capital of Mewar until the state was merged with the Republic of India in 1947.
The lake’s main attraction is the City Palace, which is a blend of Medieval, European and Chinese architecture, with mysterious towers, domes and arches.
I felt like a maharani as my boat approached the Leela Palace Hotel.
The hotel’s curving domes and rambling palace-style gardens has big views of the City Palace. The service was top notch and an army of attentive staff made me feel like a royal visitor.
I was driven around the old town in the hotel’s tuk tuk, a luxury version that came with a footman and an esky of cold drinks and towels.
Udaipur City Palace
At the City Palace, I wandered through courtyards, pavilions, terraces, corridors and rooms. Encircled by fortifications, the granite and marble palace offered views over Udaipur.
Wandering through the palace complex, my imagination went wild conjuring images of a romantic era during the reign of the Rajputs.
The warren of rooms and halls had displays of delicate mirror, murals, wall paintings, silver and coloured glass. One room had a display of antique cages used by the maharajahs to house their carrier pigeons.
The colours of Udaipur mesmerised me. I loved the multi-coloured turbans worn by the musicians, the flaired indigo skirts of the Rajasthani dancers and the saffron robes of the holy men.
Udaipur is also a terrific place to shop. I had a wonderful time hunting the streets for silver jewellery, miniature paintings, carved wooden toys, wall hangings and brass statues. Haggling with the shopkeepers was half the fun.
Nearby, Eklingji Temple is a haunting 15th-century complex of 108 temples dedicated to Shiva, the ruling deity of the local royal caste.
The marble and granite carvings of deities and animals on the walls are exquisite. One of my favourite moments was watching the sun set over Lake Pichola, polishing the lake with a golden glow.