It was actually an advertisement that set me thinking on where is this mystical place and how could I reach it. Months later, as I browsed through the internet, I realized the destination that had caught my attention was Kumbalgarh fort and closet tourist destination that can be accessed from metros was Udaipur.
Yet Udaipur has a charm that even without Kumbalgarh or Chittorgarh, it stands out as an ideal vacation whether you are going solo, with friends, with family or with a group of interested individuals. In fact we at Mums and Stories sometime would love to organize one such vacation or more for mums, in the future.
So coming back to Udaipur, let’s begin with the five tourist spots that added the magical elements to the charming city it is in the country.
The first on the list is the City Palace- One should visit the magnificent, marvelous, City Palace – This palace is an overwhelming structure that stuns you with its riot of colours, beauty and architecture.
Every king who has ruled pre-Independence era has added to the structure making it enormous and retaining its mystical element. The palace has been built over 400 years by several rules of the Mewar dynasty and it began with its first construction in the 15 th century.
(The Royal Palace gate at City Palace right in the heart of the city of Udaipur). (Photograph by Mums and Stories)
Udaipur has a lot of tourists, largely those from outside India and the Palace can be seen brimming with thousands of eager tourists who are spell bound with the structure of the palace. Having seen the South style palaces, this structure is exquisitely different and gorgeous.
(A courtyard in the City Palace, Udaipur. Photograph by Mums and Stories).
One can imagine the kings and the queens moving through the palace like a fairy tale, as you move around the structure.
Be prepared for a good walk, climb as the palace is huge. Apparently a few scenes from a few James Bond movies have been shot right outside the palace and inside too.
(Colourful windows across Havelis, hotels, palaces in Udaipur that stop you and ensure to have them admired).
You have the option of taking a guide or an audio guide or be alone. I was alone and enjoyed my time exploring this huge palace in my own way. There are lot of places where you want to take pictures and selfies and you eventually stop as you realize pictures won’t do justice to what you are witnessing right in front of you. Palaces have their own charm and City palace is right in the heart of Udaipur, it’s well maintained and has an entry ticket of Rs 300
It took me two hours to walk around and enjoy the views from different windows, balconies and heights. The Palace has various elements that can be studied in depth, in architecture or marvel the views, or the courtyard, or the museum or the design elements in pathways, doors and magical windows.
Secondly don’t miss the experience of Boating at Lake Pichola – This seems like a fairy tale sight as the boat takes one on a ride, you see sunshine reflections on City palace, Bagore ki haveli and other vintage structures that makes one feel ones watching a sunset live as it is getting painted.
I went on this ride twice, once in a larger boat that had 98 per cent foreigners and once on a smaller one. Both the times, I was lost by the visually stunning sceneries and completely ecstatic.
(Boating with glimpse of sunset at Lake Pichola. Photograph by Mums and Stories).
( Sing along a song and be lost watching the city of Udaipur).
So third on the list is the Ropeway to Karni Mata temple . This tourist spot shouldn’t be missed particularly if you are travelling with kids, so third on the list is this destination – the Rope way to Karni Matha temple. I was child like when I sat in one of the colourful cable cars and loved the experience.
The temple atop the hill gives the panoramic view of the city of Udaipur and the temple is a dedication to a Hindu warrior sage, the deity in certain royal families of Rajasthan.
(Ropeway to Karni Mata temple, a major tourist attraction in Udaipur),
We reached Karni Mata temple in the scorching hot afternoon, yet it was good with beautiful views of the city that one gets at the temple and also an excuse to have channa chur, a snack made by one of the localities.
One shouldn’t also miss the experience at Bagor ki haveli – This one has a museum too but that can be missed, however don’t miss the cultural show held every evening at a nominal cost of Rs 90.
( The energetic dancers at Bagore ki Haveli, cultural program held every evening).
It is one hour of complete entertainment and if you are a photography lover, do take the ticket to click pictures as the dances, tricks performed by the artists are stunning.
It’s colourful, loud, music that gets you into the Rajasthani flavor and I was glad I watched the show on the first day of my visit.
(One of the pretty dolls/statues at the Bagore ki Haveli museum).
There is a long queue for the cultural show and it seems as though it is due to the popularity of the show and strangely, tickets cannot be booked in advance. So be present to take your ticket at Bagor ki haveli, Gangaur ghat by 6.15pm for the 7 to 8pm show.
(A room full of puppets that seem to come alive in the evenings. Photograph at Bagore ki Haveli).
Lastly don’t miss one of the dinners at Amrai or at Upre at Lake Pichola hotel. Both restaurants offer stunning views as though you are in a dream space. The only drawback is to get reservation in either of them and they can be a little rough though the staff at Upri behaved one notch better than Amrai.
(A beautiful romantic evening that can be spent at Amrai restuarant, Udaipur)
If you are a couple traveling, this can be the perfect romantic evening date. Do note, both restaurants are in premium category and may not be really child friendly as the ambiance is different and appears delicate.
( Unmatched Breathtaking view at Upre restaurant, Lake Pichola hotel)
There’s enough street food that can be ventured if you are fine taking a risk of chaats, jamuns prepared hot and varieties of juices. Also restaurants like Jheel near Gangaur Ghat, offer breathtaking views and is more economical than premium spaces, though it is more of a Cafe and can be a good lunch option or evening snack option.
As mentioned earlier, my entire trip to Udaipur was planned because of one advertisement and this has been playing on my mind for three years.
When in Udaipur, if possible do visit Kumbalgarh fort built in the 15th century. The destination is roughly around two hours, approximately 100 kms away from Udaipur. Plan your day ahead and leave by 7am to reach on time and more importantly not get sunburnt.
The fort is massive, the road journey from Udaipur to Kumbalgarh is comfortable and enjoyable and as you approach the fort, your expectations are set high.
( Kumbalgarh entrance)
I was happy I had made it to the fort and definitely one can admire the work done by the people to build the second largest wall in the world after Great wall of China. One cannot walk through the entire 36km wall, in the fort but from one end you can see the spectacular structure looking straight out of a story book or a movie that looks larger than life. The walls bear a striking resemblance to a huge castle and as you reach the top point, you see the overlooking Aravalli forest range that is huge and makes you feel like bowing to nature and finest architects and workers of earlier times.
( A view of the fort at Kumbalgarh. Photograph by Mums and Stories).
This fort is important in Indian history as it has been the birth place of Maharana Pratap Singh and was built by Rana Kumbha. The sheer fact that we have our own Great Wall in the country makes it an awesome destination. It can get hot so do take umbrella, cap, sun glasses, water and little food too. Most importantly comfortable shoes and an attitude to climb the fort.
( Temples are seen across streets, in and around havelis, palaces , forts and there has been a strong presence of Hindu and Jain temples across centuries). ( This photograph is at Kumbalgarh fort).
On our way back from Kumbalgarh, we had also spoken to the driver to take us to Ranakpur temple and we weren’t disappointed with the choice.
( Exquisite Jain temple at Ranakpur). (Photograph by Mums and Stories).
It’s pristine white walls, ceiling, detailed carvings get you to wonder if ever modern architecture can match what the country’s earlier craftsmen and architects did centuries ago.
This temple too is an important landmark in Jain culture and was built around the 15th century.
( Visually appealing architecture that stuns you to silence and admire them. Ranakpur Jain temple).
Udaipur is good for shopping and one can go for bangles, footwear, clothes like saree, lehngas or handicrafts. If ones not keen on shopping, it’s still a rich destination that has something special to offer to every visitor.
At certain tourist spots, there were visible cases of racial discrimination by guides, store keepers the boating organizers and this can be avoided as it doesn’t go well when we see the discrimination in our country to our own people.
( Religious and cultural influence is strong in Udaipur, perhaps stemming from the history of invasions and cultural dominance). ( Photograph is of a temple on a street in Udaipur).
What strikes Udaipur than other destinations is the colours, food, variety of interests like Vintage car museum for car connoisseurs or gardens that are simple, nevertheless interesting if one has ample amount of time.
( Sweet delicacies are integral to Rajasthani cusinise and we had the delicious, hot gulab jamuns from a street vendor).
Coming back to tourist spots in the city; Saheliyon ki baadi was charming due to its history attached of being gifted to the queen who came with 48 maids. The space has vintage style fountains in the garden and it looked like it was reminiscing scenes from a 60s Bollywood movie.
A few other tourist spots that one can visit are:
Jagdish temple at Udaipur
( A beautiful temple right in the heart of Udaipur city, built in the 16th century).
(Vintage Car museum, Udaipur)
( Sahelion ki Baagi, a simple garden that looks quite retro and Bollywood)
Udaipur should be on your list if you want to experience a vibrant slice of Rajasthan and get wonderful memories created.
( Colourful magnets on the streets).
( Windows in Udaipur are intricately designed and also in many structures colourful that add to the vibrance of the tourist spot).
I finally left the city with many fond memories built for a lifetime.
(Reshma krishnamurthy from Mums and stories traveled to Udaipur in October 2018 )