Experience India’s White City: The Best Things to Do in Udaipur
The city of Udaipur (pronounced Oo-day-poor) in Rajasthan goes by many names: “The White City”, “The City of Lakes” and “The Venice of the East” are just a few of its beloved monikers. Just as Jaisalmer is known as the Golden City because of the surrounding yellow sandstone and Jodhpur is known as the Blue City thanks to the pastel blue-coloured buildings within the old city, Udaipur is dubbed the White City due to the shimmering marble architecture and palaces dotted around its confines.
This proud and enchanting city in India was founded in the 16th century by Maharana Udai Singh II, and never accepted any other rulers nor surrendered its independence. Unlike the harsh and arid desert landscape on the far west of Rajasthan state, Udaipur resembles a lush oasis featuring seven sapphire-shaded lakes and towering emerald hills. The fairy-tale city is located approximately 5 hours away from Jodhpur by car and is an essential stop on your road trip through Rajasthan.
2 days in Udaipur will go by in a blink of the eye, but gives you a glimpse into what this glittering city has to offer. Believe me when I say that you will find yourself dreaming about your return to Udaipur. Read on for a quick guide to visiting Udaipur including places to see, where to stay, how to get around and more.
Looking for even more India travel tips and destination guides? Head on over here!
What you need to know before traveling to India
- Best time to visit Udaipur: India’s peak tourism season runs from October/November to March as this is when the weather tends to be milder. Those who travel to India during the other months may need to be prepared for more extreme temperature fluctuations, but on the plus side the crowds also tend to be thinner.
- How to get to Udaipur: Udaipur has a small regional airport (airport code: UDR) so you can fly there from Delhi, Mumbai or Jaipur. Alternatively, if you are visiting other cities in Rajasthan you can travel by car: the drive from Jaipur to Udaipur will take 7 hours and the drive from Jodhpur to Udaipur will take a little under 5 hours. You can also take a bus or train to travel intercity.
- Local currency: The local currency in India is the Indian Rupee or INR. The exchange rate is approximately 60 INR to 1 USD – although major hotels and tourist restaurants accept credit cards, most other places only accept cash so I recommend exchanging a small amount when you arrive in India.
- Dress code in India: All travelers should aim to dress on the conservative side in India to be respectful of local customs. I recommend covering your shoulders and knees, so pack loose pants, dresses and tops as well as some warm clothes that you can wear in the chilly mornings and evenings.
- Stay connected in India: You will need to provide a copy of your passport and passport photo in order to get a local SIM card in India. There are several telecom providers located in the arrivals hall at Delhi airport where you can purchase a local SIM card for a few hundred Rupees – we paid 600 Rupees for 1.5 GB a day.
- India visa process: The infamous India visa application process has been vastly simplified over the years, but you still need to get the application started as early as possible. You may be eligible to apply for an e-visa – the official e-visa website is located here and the country-specific visa fees can be checked here.
Tip: Once you have received an e-mail confirming that your e-visa application was successful and you have been granted the e-visa, you must re-visit the e-visa website and print out the official visa certificate – a print out of the e-mail confirmation will not be accepted.
Best way to travel around India
One thing that most people don’t realize when planning their trip to India is how massive the country is, and how much time it takes to travel between cities. While you could plan a multi-city India tour by yourself, domestic transportation can be unreliable and there is, unfortunately, no shortage of scam artists waiting to take advantage of unsuspecting tourists. If you are short on time (and energy), then you might want to enlist the help of a qualified and experienced tour agency to sort out your inter-city transportation and arrange an expert guide to show you the sights and tell you all about the rich local history and culture.
For this trip to Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Pushkar we once again turned to Top Indian Holidays to organize a customized private tour through Rajasthan. I highly recommend Nand Singh and his team for their wonderful hospitality, safe and reliable drivers and knowledgeable guides – they don’t “baby” or coddle you so it doesn’t feel like you aren’t able to explore on your own, and your itinerary can be as flexible or packed as you like. You can read more glowing reviews here.
Best hotels in Udaipur
The city is full of wonderful luxury and boutique hotels, and you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to deciding on where to stay in Udaipur. We had 2 days in Udaipur and was able to check out one of the city’s top luxury hotels: the Trident Udaipur. We last stayed at a Trident property in Agra a few years ago, and was blown away by the excellent service and comfortable rooms.
Trident Udaipur is conveniently located on the banks of Lake Pichola. The hotel features dreamy traditional architecture and design, and is surrounded by sprawling landscaped gardens. The on-site pool is perfect for a lazy afternoon, or you can go for a short stroll down to the jetty for an unobstructed view of the City Palace framed by the peaceful lake.
We spent our first night in Udaipur watching the sunset from this fabulous viewpoint – the only thing missing was a glass of vino! Click here to see current rates and availability for Trident Udaipur! Looking for some other options for your stay in Udaipur? Here are some other highly rated options.
You might also like: A 1 Week Rajasthan Itinerary for First Time Visitors
The best places to visit in Udaipur
Following our journey through Jaisalmer and Jodhpur, it was time to travel towards Udaipur. There are a handful of top things to do in Udaipur, but more importantly the alluring White City will immediately instill a sense of peace within you, and I could have easily spent another few nights in Udaipur to bask in the solitude and gorgeous scenery.
If you only have 1 week in Rajasthan I recommend spending no less than 2 days in Udaipur. Wondering what to see in Udaipur? Read on for my quick Udaipur travel guide that includes the top places to visit and things to do in Udaipur if you’re a first-time visitor!
1. Ahar Cenotaphs
Much like Bada Bagh in Jaisalmer, the Ahar Museum houses the royal cenotaphs, or “empty tombs” of the royal family of the region. The Ahar Cenotaphs are located just outside of Udaipur’s main town, and contains more than 100 cenotaphs and chhatris (dome-shaped pavilions) that memorialize the maharajas who were cremated here.
The Ahar Cenotaphs are somewhat off-the-beaten-track in Udaipur and few tourists venture outside of Udaipur city to visit, but it is well worth your time to explore the grounds for a much-needed respite from the dense crowds that flood through Udaipur.
In my opinion, it’s one of the best places to visit in Udaipur and especially popular with Indian teenagers who film their TikTok videos here – very entertaining if you’re into people-watching!
2. Udaipur City Palace
Together with the Lake Palace which was designed for the Udaipur royal family to enjoy the sweltering summer and the Monsoon Palace high up in the hills for the royal family to retreat from the pounding rain, the magnificent City Palace was designed for maximum views and comfort during the rest of the year. Start your Udaipur city tour here!
The Udaipur City Palace consists of nearly a dozen major and minor palaces that collectively form the complex, and the main palace is used as a museum for the royal family and region’s artifacts and collections. When the royal family is home, a special flag is raised to indicate that they are in residence – ask your guide to point it out to you!
The labyrinth of courtyards, rooms, gardens, balconies and galleries are designed in a way to confuse intruders, notice the low gates that force visitors to bow their heads (in the ancient times enemies might find themselves beheaded as they try to navigate the narrow corridors) and uneven steps that slow invaders down or perhaps even cause them to fall over.
You’ll need to set aside 3 hours at the very minimum to explore the grounds and 400-year-old living museum – don’t miss the glittering Sheesh Mahal, the stunning fountain in the centre of Amar Vilas and the surrounding view, Mor Chowk and its glass mosaic peacocks and Chini Chitrashala’s elaborate tile-work from far-flung corners of the world.
Don’t forget that the exterior of the palace is just as breathtaking as the mesmerizing interior!
The City Palace complex is a feast for the eyes and you’ll find yourself captivated by all of its colours and details – it won’t take long for you to realize why it is one of the top places to visit in Udaipur.
An adult ticket for entry into the palace complex and museum costs 300 Rupees and includes your camera ticket.
3. Sahelion Ki Bari
The Sahelion Ki Bari, or “Garden of the Maidens”, is a beautiful garden complex built by the Maharaja for his queen and her 48 maidens. The garden is the perfect place to visit in Udaipur cool off after a day of sightseeing in Udaipur, and costs just 100 Rupees per person to enter.
It’s one of the more popular Udaipur tourist places so don’t be surprised if there are large crowds of visitors inside!
Jagmandir is a 17th century palace built on an island on the Lake Pichola. Also called the “Lake Garden Palace”, the royal family used the space for lavish parties and to this day is used for exclusive events, weddings and other celebrations.
Though Jagmandir is one of the more popular tourist spots in Udaipur I didn’t find it to be overly crowded or hectic.
You can take a short boat ride from the City Palace to Jagmandir and take a quick stroll around before sipping on a cup of tea by the water. It’s said that Jagmandir was the inspiration for the Taj Mahal in Agra.
5. Lake Pichola
Lake Pichola is one of Udaipur’s seven lakes. The man-made Lake Pichola is in the heart of Udaipur and is not only located at the base of the City Palace, but also home to the royal family’s Lake Palace. Built in the 14th century, Lake Pichola is nearly 4 KM long and 3 KM wide.
Taking a sunset boat ride on the lake is an unmissable experience and one of the best things to do in Udaipur. While you can go on a scheduled boat ride with a dozen-or-so others, it’s also possible to charter a boat for special occasions – our guide says that many proposals have taken place on a romantic Lake Pichola boat ride!
During the boat ride you’ll also be able to see the Lake Palace up close and personal: today it has been converted into an upscale luxury hotel called the Taj Lake Palace, and is only open to in-house guests at this time.
You can hop on a sunset boat ride from the City Palace pier – the last boat to Jagmandir is at around 5 PM and costs 800 Rupees per person. A charter sunset boat ride costs anywhere from 7500 to 21000 Rupees depending on the number of people you have (up to 24 passengers).
Bonus: Deolia House for a private cooking class
When Top Indian Holidays recommended taking a cooking class in Udaipur, I was, to be completely candid, a little hesitant. While I love eating food, I’m a bit of a dud in the kitchen so don’t typically take cooking classes when I travel. But our cooking class with Rakshita at Deoliahouse completely caught me by surprise and it was genuinely a highlight of our time in Udaipur.
We were warmly welcomed into Rakshita’s lovely suburban home where we met her husband and adorable pup, and learned how to make traditional Rajasthan dishes with whole and powdered spices, fragrant mustard oil and tons of fresh produce. Rakshita is a teacher by trade, so it makes sense that she could teach even me, the least-talented cook in the world, to prepare mouthwatering food. The result? A delicious feast that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
If you’d like to take a cooking class with Rakshita you can e-mail her at rakshitashaktawat [at] gmail.com or get in touch with Nand Singh at info [at] topindianholidays.net. She also takes students to the local market to purchase all the produce and ingredients for dinner, but unfortunately we weren’t able to get there in time! I love visiting local markets so would highly recommend that you join her prior to the cooking class.
I hope this list of places to visit in Udaipur in 2 days helps you plan your trip more efficiently. If you have more time in Udaipur you might also want to check out Fateh Sagar Lake, Udaipur’s largest lake, Sajjangarh Palace or the Monsoon Palace, Bagore Ki Haveli or Jagdish Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Ready to take in the sights and sounds of Udaipur? The tranquil White City is one of the most alluring in all of India, and is an essential stop during your 1 week in Rajasthan.
Looking for the best hotels in Udaipur? I recommend Trident Udaipur, one of the best luxury hotels in Udaipur. Click here to see current rates and availability for Trident Udaipur! Looking for some other options for your Udaipur trip? Here are some other highly rated options!
Where to go after Udaipur
Wondering where to go after Udaipur? Here are some suggestions for your Rajasthan itinerary!
Jaisalmer: We began our 1 week in Rajasthan in the Golden City because of flight availability, but it’s also possible to travel northbound from Udaipur – Jodhpur – Jaisalmer instead of southbound from Jaisalmer – Jodhpur – Udaipur. Here is my travel guide to spending 2 days in Jaisalmer.
Jaipur: Jaipur is approximately 7 hours away from Udaipur by car. The Pink City is a popular “gateway” into the rest of Rajasthan and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you can begin or end your Rajasthan road trip. Head on over here to read my perfect 2 day Jaipur itinerary!
Ranakpur Jain Temple: While it is possible to do a day trip from Udaipur to the Ranakpur Jain Temple, the drive will take 2 hours each way and the road can be extremely winding depending on which route you take. Instead, I recommend you visit the Jain Temple when traveling between Jodhpur and Udaipur. The intricately designed and symmetrical temple is said to have appeared in a dream to the architect, and visitors can enter with a detailed audio guide that describes the history and design elements. The temple opens to visitors after 12 PM, and costs 200 Rupees per person, 100 Rupees per camera. The dress code is strict here – no leather items, no shoes, and your arms and legs must be covered.
Chittogarh: The Chittor Fort or Chittorgarh is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest in India. The fort is approximately 3 hours away from Udaipur and is “strongly associated with Rajput history and folk lore. Furthermore the sheer number and variety of architectural remains of early date (ranging from the 8th to the 16th centuries) mark it as an exceptional fort in its scale and monumentality comparable to very few other Indian forts.“
Kumbhalgarh: Kumbhalgarh, or the Kumbhal Fort, is the second most important citadel after Chittorgarh in the region. Located about 2 hours from Udaipur, Kumbhalgarh dates back to the 15th century and features fascinating ruins as well as a 30-plus-kilometre stretch of wall.
You might also find these guides helpful:
- Looking for an easy-to-follow itinerary for Rajasthan? Here is my 1 Week Rajasthan itinerary
- Want to embark on the classic Golden Triangle route? Read this India Golden Triangle guide and itinerary
- Head on over here for even more India travel tips and destination guides
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