Voted as the 2nd top city to visit in the world, by readers of Travel and Leisure, Udaipur, or the ‘Venice of the East’, has gained much-deserved fame for its peaceful temples, majestic palaces, man-made lakes and historical architecture. We’ve collated five unmissable things to do while you stay in the spectacular city.
Stay at the extraordinary Taj Lake Palace Hotel
Floating in the middle of Lake Pichola like an elegant white tussock is the spectacular Taj Lake Palace Hotel. The 18th-century palace was once used as a summer retreat for the Mewar Royal Family before being converted into a beautiful hotel in 1963- retaining its original architecture. In 1983, the marble wonder was even used as iconic Bond girl Octopussy’s secret lair in the James Bond flick
Inside the white walls is a splendid oasis, with perfectly landscaped gardens, Mewar-era fountains filled with water lilies and a lovely pool. Four restaurants offer worldwide cuisines, including Indian, Asian and Italian, while the J Wellness Circle spa brings ancient Indian healing wisdom into the 21st century. Best of all, due to its unique location, every room, decorated with Indian silks and rich colours, boasts mesmerising views of the surrounding lake, hills and many overlook the magnificent City Palace.
Take a boat ride on Lake Pichola
Of the seven lakes in Udaipur, Lake Pichola is probably the most picturesque, filled and flanked by islands, palaces, temples, ghats and ornamental bridges. Man-made in 1362, the calm, blue waters have seen centuries of visitors touring the lake by boat, and it remains one of the best things to do in Udaipur.
A highlight of the boat rides is Jag Mandir, a palace built on the island of the same name in the 1500s. So visually stunning, the palace was said to be the inspiration to Shah Jahan for the wondrous Taj Mahal.
Especially enchanting are the sunrise and sunset tours, where you can watch the lake turn golden from the waters, and the bold orange skies make a truly magical backdrop for the Lake Palace.
Visit the Jagdish temple
One of the largest temples of Lord Vishnu sits prominently in the Udaipur skyline at 79 feet, right in the middle of the Old City. The temple itself is an impressive architectural feat, with three stories on a raised platform, held up by mighty, intricately carved pillars.
After being welcomed by the two immense elephant statues at the entrance, wander through the airy halls, and admire the various statues, including the brass image of Garuda the guard of Lord Vishnu’s house, that sit within the walls.
At the very heart of the temple is the four-armed image of Lord Vishnu carved from one black stone, widely believed to bring calmness and serenity to its visitors.
Watch the Bagore Ki Haveli dance show
Every evening, at 7 p.m., the Dharohar Dance Show begins in the beautiful Neem Chowk courtyard of Bagore Ki Haveli, where lit-up balconies add to the charm. After a brief introduction by Rajastani women in traditional attire, followed by the beating of a drum, the blowing of a conch shell and a religious song, a series of traditional, beautifully choreographed dances begin.
Supported by local musicians and danced in typical Rajasthani folk costumes, the dances showcase local tradition, culture and folklore in a wonderful way. There is also a brief interruption by the comical Rajasthani Puppet show, catered to kids but enjoyed by all.
Book a special dinner at Upre
Spend an evening at Upre, a wonderful rooftop restaurant that overlooks the entire city. As night falls, the City Palace and Lake Palace look extra bewitching as they light up against the dark starry sky. As you admire the captivating views, enjoy authentic Rajasthan flavours while live music plays out, at an elegantly set table creating a truly regal atmosphere.
5 Unmissable Experiences in Udaipur image credits: City Palace and Lake Pichola in Udaipur by photoff; Jag Mandir Palace by Bule Sky Studio; Jagdish Temple walls in Udaipur by Grace Langbeck; Lake Pichola and Taj Lake Palace by photoff; Lake Pichola and Taj Lake Palace by RuslandKphoto; Rooftop view from Bagore Ki Haveli Udaipur by Animesh Ray.