Top Things to Do in Udaipur in 48 Hours
Udaipur is the stuff dreams are made of, and India’s most romantic city. Men with multicolored turbans and women in luminescent saris wander among the turreted buildings and palaces. It’s my favorite city in India, so follow me around for the ultimate guide to 48 hours in Udaipur.
Indulge in a lake-facing room in a heritage hotel and take advantage of the view of the enchanting Lake Palace Hotel. This appears as a floating mirage in the center of the lake when the morning fog lifts its veil. Many hotels in Udaipur are designed in traditional Rajasthan style- walls painted with murals, scalloped arched windows inset with tiny mirrors, cushioned window seats, and colored glass lamps.
Day 1: Exploring the City
Breakfast at Udai Art Café or Grasswoods
Serving western or Indian style breakfasts, Udai Art Café boasts the best coffee and interesting art exhibits. Grasswoods Café offers sustainable and vegan food. The breakfast muesli includes the surprisingly delicious addition of grated carrots and fresh curd. Both are situated on Gangaur Ghat.
City Palace Museum
A beautiful complex of seven palaces built by different maharajas, it will give you a glimpse into the privileged and sumptuous lifestyle of these royal families. Plan about two hours for your visit.
University of the Arts Puppet Theater and Handicraft Shopping
As you exit the Palace, on City Palace Road, look for a sign reading University of the Arts among the multitude of traditional crafts shops. Puppet master Raji Gurgagour, whom you can recognize by his stylized Rajasthani moustache and charming smile, will be sitting outside. His love for this disappearing art is evident, and he will happily give you a short demonstration in his small private theater.
The many shops selling handmade paper books, clothing, and folk art will tempt you to part with your rupees. Rajasthan is one of the few places in the world where handicraft traditions have remained vibrant to this day.
You deserve a samosa
Under the archway by the Mayur Palace Hotel is a small shop selling the best samosas. There’s usually a crowd gathered at lunchtime, as it is quite popular with the locals. Be warned that the accompanying green chutney is spicy.
People watch from the rooftop at Mayur Palace Hotel
Go through the archway opposite the samosa stand and admire the beautiful carved woodwork, paintings and mirrors in the lobby of the hotel, and take the elevator to the top floor. Choose a table overlooking the impressive Jagdish Temple and the rooftops of this stunning white city. Try the mango lassi and pakora (vegetable fritters) for a light lunch.
Cultural Show at Bagore Ki Haveli
At 7 pm nightly there is a cultural show. Presented in the upper courtyard of a lavish heritage home, it lasts an hour and includes short presentations of traditional dance and music.
Dinner at Lake Pichola Hotel
Take a leisurely walk across the bridge to Hanuman Ghat and head to my favorite restaurant in Udaipur. Members of the former royal family own Lake Pichola Hotel, and they run the property with the grace and finesse of a bygone era. Sip a cold Kingfisher beer on the terrace as the evening lights transform the City Palace and the Lake Palace Hotel into a magical fairyland. The full tandoori chicken is the best I’ve eaten anywhere and is enough for two people. Add a side dish of bhindi (okra) masala and naan. Your tastebuds will thank you.
Day 2: The Essence of India
Experience the spiritual side of Rajasthan
Start early to catch Udaipur at its best before the traffic congestion and chaos of the day begins. Heading down the narrow street towards the Clock Tower and Bara Bazaar, you will see the many shrines and gods being decorated and cared for as if they were members of the family. Shopkeepers light incense, flowers and sweets are laid in front of shrines to favorite gods, and prayers are recited to bring good fortune.
Katchuri at a streetside stall
Try a typical Indian breakfast today at one of the katchuri and chai stands along the way. You’ll know which one, because it will have the biggest crowd, grabbing breakfast before they head off to work. Katchuri is small puffed bread served with a yellow dal puree. It’s very tasty!
Explore the silver shops and essential oil merchants
Retrace your steps, passing numerous silver shops. The price is determined by the weight of the silver, which is ceremoniously weighed in front of your eyes. If you like essential oils and perfumes, there are many stores specializing in every possible variety. The friendly merchants will gladly let you sample as many as you can handle– even cannabis oil!
Visit the Jagdish Temple
Back at the main square, climb the steep steps up to the intricately carved Jagdish Temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna and built in 1651. If you’re lucky, a puja ceremony will be going on with music and chanting.
The Miniature Painters of Hanuman Ghat
Lake Pichola is considered holy. Linger a while at Gangaur Ghat, where you are almost sure to be rewarded by a religious ceremony relating to marriage or death. Cross the bridge and take the road hugging the lake, and enter the world of miniature painting. Many shops are run by groups of artists. They are eager to explain the process and you will be amazed at the skill and technique involved. Miniature paintings make inexpensive and unforgettable souvenirs.
The charms of UdaiKoti Hotel
Walk around the tranquil garden with statues of Buddha, and fountains with roses and marigolds. You can sit maharaja style on cushions in a secluded corner of the rooftop restaurant and enjoy drinks and an Indian lunch, all with a stunning view. There’s even a rooftop swimming pool.
Dinner and drinks at 1559
For your final evening, take a rickshaw to restaurant 1559 for a meal of fusion food housed in a heritage home. Traditional music is performed in the garden, where fountains strung with colored lights add to the mood. The palak corn tikki (spinach and corn fritters) served with tamarind chutney are to die for, as are the tandoori prawns. If chicken is your thing, the butter chicken is succulent and flavored with subtle spices, and the fusion dish with quail is amazing. Gourmet paradise.
Forty eight hours will pass by quickly as there are so many things to do in Udaipur, but I know you will leave dreaming about your next trip to this magical city.
Photo by Unsplash.