On our month-long independent trip through Rajasthan, we visited six different cities, but Udaipur was the one we enjoyed the most. There is a certain aura that makes Udaipur sightseeing very special. One of the factors is definitely that the traffic is much lighter than in other cities. Of course, there are still cars and bikes everywhere, but a lot less than in Jaipur or in the Blue City of Jodhpur. In Udaipur, the streets belong mainly to the many cows who roam the streets peacefully throughout the days and gather for sleeping together at night.
The white colour of the buildings in Udaipur gave it the nickname “The White City”, and they give the whole place such a peaceful and innocent look. The lake is another fantastic part of the White City. Somehow they give a feeling of great serenity. The reflections of the Ghats at the lakes make you think you’re in a Fairy Tale and when the kids play with their kites on the roofs, the peaceful atmosphere is perfect. Our Udaipur visit felt like a little piece of Venice in India.
One of our favourite activities in the lake city Udaipur was to stroll through the pretty streets and just go with the flow. Of course, there is some delicious food to eat and great places to visit in Udaipur too. Our post will help you get an overview of this jewel of a city in central Rajasthan and maybe even inspire you to go on an Udaipur city tour yourself.
To make navigation a bit easier, we created a directory. If you want to skip straight to a particular place, just click the link below.
Udaipur Sightseeing Directory
- City Palace
- Lake Pichola
- Fateh Sagar Lake
- Jagdish Temple
- Monsoon Palace
- Gangaur Ghat, Lal Ghat and Ambrai Ghat
- Bonus: Participate in a painting class
The visit to this beautiful palace was one of our highlights during our Udaipur holidays. The City Palace Udaipur is a majestic example of Rajput architecture and probably the most visited place in Udaipur. This is with good reason – with the many stunning rooms and hallways, it is the largest palace complex in all of Rajasthan. We spend about 2 hours exploring and marvelling at the intricate details this place has to offer. It is absolutely one of those places in Udaipur you just have to go and visit.
The Maharana Udai Singh II started to build this Udaipur palace in 1559 and his successors added new parts until the 18th century. Although many different people were involved in adding new structures to the palace, it still has a uniform appearance. Our favourite places within the palace were the Mor Chowk (Peacock Square), the Badi Mahal (Great Palace) and the Zenana Mahal (Queens Palace).
The Badi Mahal, also called Garden Palace, is the highest point of the palace you can visit. Because the palace itself was built in a natural crevice at the bottom of a hill, the Badi Mahal is actually still at ground level, despite being 27 metres high. It sports 104 intricately carved pillars, made of local marble, and a swimming pool in the centre. The pool was mainly used for the Holi festival.
In the Mor Chowk (Peacock Square) you can find the stunning relief displays of 3 peacocks symbolising the 3 seasons summer, winter and monsoon. They are decorated with 5000 colourful pieces of glass. For me, this was probably one of the most beautiful artworks I’ve seen in the city palace. The place was used by the Maharanas for special audiences and dinners.
The Zenana Mahal was truly fit for a queen. One of the highlights for us were the inner chambers, including a swing (come on, who doesn’t wish to have a swing in hers/his bedroom?) and exquisitely decorated rooms. We were also amazed by the Chowmukha, an open pavilion in the inner courtyard of the Zenana Mahal. This pavilion was used by the queen during special occasions to hold audiences with other royal ladies. These days it is still used for various celebrations.
For all the 007 fans out there: Did you know that the City Palace of Udaipur India was seen in one of the James Bond movies? Can you guess which one? The answer will be at the end of this post.
Lake Pichola is an artificial freshwater lake created in 1362. It was named after the nearby village with the same name. Like all the other lakes in and around Udaipur, it was created to provide the city with drinking water and an irrigation system. Besides this practical use, this Udaipur lake serves also an aesthetic purpose in making the whole city of Udaipur look even dreamier and more spectacular. There are four islands on the lake: Jag Niwas, Jag Mandir, Mohan Mandir and Arsi Vilas.
On the island of Jag Nivas stands a beautiful palace with the same name. It was built under the direction of Maharana Jagat Sing II of Udaipur between 1743 and 1746. It was initially called Jag Niwas and was used as a winter palace for the Maharana. In the 20th century, Bhagwat Singh decided to transform the palace into the first luxury hotel of Udaipur.
After it changed hands in 1971, the Lake Palace hotel Udaipur now has 66 rooms and 17 grand suites. The “Royal Butlers” who work in this grandiose hotel are all descendants of the original butlers who worked there when the palace was built. It must truly feel royal to spend some nights there. Unfortunately, you can only visit this place when you actually book a room there.
The Jag Mandir is another palace built on one of the two natural islands of the Lake Pichola in Udaipur. It is called the “Lake Garden Palace”. The construction of the palace spanned three generations of Maharanas until Maharana Jagat Singh I finally finished the building in the mid 17th century. Today the palace serves as one of the best lake view hotels in Udaipur and is open for all visitors. You could also just take a boat and eat dinner in this palace, but expect extortionately high prices. A cheaper option is to take your own drinks and snacks with you and take a boat from the Rameshwar Ghat to the Jag Mandir.
Mohan Mandir and Arsi Vilas
The Mohan Mandir is a temple that was never finished. It sits on a little island in the Lake Pichola. These days it is used by the state for firework displays during the Gangaur festival.
Arsi Vilas is the fourth of the islands and on it is an abandoned building. This structure was once used as an armoury. Today it mainly serves as a bird observatory.
North of the Pichola lake lies the Fateh Sagar Lake. The lake is named after the Maharana Fateh Singh of Udaipur. Like the other lakes, this one is also artificially made. There are three islands on the Fateh Sagar Lake.
At 4km², the Nehru Park is the largest one of the islands. For about 50 Indian Rupees ($0.75 USD or £0.55 GBP) you can take a boat there and back again and get beautiful reflection photos over the lake. It is also a very popular Udaipur picnic spot. The second island houses a public park including a water-jet fountain. The third and last one is home to the Udaipur Solar Observatory.
One of the most famous temples in Udaipur is the Jagdish Temple in the centre of the city. It was built by Maharana Jagat Singh and dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the universe. The Indo-Aryan style temple is the largest in whole of Udaipur and a great tourist attraction. 1.5 million Indian Rupees were spendt to build this impressive Udaipur temple which dominates the skyline. You can pack easily pack it into your Udaipur sightseeing tour, as it lies directly on the way to the city palace.
You can visit the temple between 4.15am to 1pm and between 5.15pm to 8pm. The entrance is free, but make sure you remove your shoes before you enter the shrine.
The Sajjan Garh Palace, also known as Monsoon Palace, was once a luxurious mansion overlooking the Fateh Sagar Lake. Sadly, this place is not in a very good condition anymore, but still worth a trip, especially because of the fantastic view from uphill. It’s got its name because it was originally built to watch the monsoon clouds. The Monsoon Palace is open daily from 9.30am to 7pm, and the entrance fee is 60 Indian Rupees per person.
Picture credit for this great shot goes to Monti. Check out his amazing Instagram profile!
By the way, this palace was used in a 007 movie as the hideout of a baddie called Kamal Kahn. Do you know now about which James Bond movie we’re talking?
At the bottom of the hill, you can find the Saijangarh Wildlife Sanctuary. It was established in 1987 and serves as a reserve for sambhar deer, tigers, hyenas, panthers, reptiles, wild boars, various birds and the nilgai (the largest Asian antelopes).
The Ghats are the stairs which lead down to a source of water like a river or a lake. The locals use them mainly to wash themselves. The Gangaur Ghat is the main Ghat of the Lake Pichola Udaipur. It has an important role during the Gangaur festivals as it is the place where the idols Gan and Gauri are immersed in the lake.
The Lal Ghat is a small but pretty little Ghat south of the Gangaur Ghat. There are a lot of handicraft shops and rooftop restaurants around it. It’s also one of the best places to find budget hotels in Udaipur near Lake Pichola.
If you want to take scenic pictures of Udaipur and specially the Lake Pichola and the city palace, you should head to the Ambrai Ghat. There are some really fancy hotels and restaurants around as well.
With all the beautiful places to see in Udaipur, and there are a lot of them, you should definitely take a break at one moment and visit a miniature painting class in the Mewar style. There must be hundreds of them in Udaipur and we were really fascinated by the one we did.
The paintings we made are probably the coolest souvenirs we have from India. We had a free class included in our stay at the Lassi Guest House, but the courses are normally not expensive and you can find them easily signposted out on the streets. For us, this was one of the best things to do in Udaipur.
There are some really great places to eat in Udaipur and we want to present you the top 5 cafes and restaurants that we visited during our stay. To make it a bit easier to find them, we attached two maps of Udaipur. Just search for the number behind the chapter and you’ll find them on the Udaipur map.
The White Terrace Restaurant (see 1 on our map) close to the Jagdish Temple serves some seriously delicious Indian food. They do veg and non-veg dishes and also have beer on their menu (something you don’t get in many places). Compared to other restaurants, it is a bit more expensive. But this is understandable when you experience their top notch service and mouthwatering food.
We can recommend the Murgh Kothmiri Masala (Coriander Chicken with local spices) and the Laal Maas (Rajasthani style cooked lamb) and some Naan (Indian bread) with it.
You have to keep your eyes well open to find this little treasure called Neelam Restaurant (see 2 on our map). When we were looking for this restaurant for the first time, we didn’t find it. We stopped after the first pair of stairs because we thought we’d intrude someones house. You have to go all up to the top until you get to a tiny room with about six tables. The entrance is on the same square as the White Terrace Restaurant.
We recommend you try their vegetarian Tali. The dishes on this plate could easily satisfy two people. They don’t let you share a plate though, which we can absolutely understand for the tiny price of 150 Indian Rupees ($2.20 USD or £1.70 GBP).
Have you ever had an Indian style pizza? No? Then you should definitely visit this amazing little place with the catchy name of Yummy Yoga (see 3 on our map)! The owner is a super friendly guy and will make great menu recommendations for you. The atmosphere in this cafe/restaurant is completely relaxed and while you wait for your food you can exercise your brain with one of their toy puzzles on each table.
Try the Paneer Vegetable Corama Pizza and be surprised by this new experience. This vegetarian place also serves vegan dishes and (drum roll please) Nutella toast!
This was probably my favourite restaurant in Udaipur. With only two tables it is rather small, but the food is more than worth it. The Meera Family Restaurant (see 4 on our map) is as the name suggests, a family run business and one of the daughters even offers Henna drawings. The family who owns this place is absolutely adorable and in the end I visited this restaurant 3 times during our stay in Udaipur.
I always thought that a good burger needs meat. Never have I been so wrong. The vegan burger you get in this place is so addictive that I had it for dinner on three separate occasions! If you don’t like burgers then you should try the delicious Pekodas. Unlike a lot of other Pekodas we had in India, those had a perfect soft crunch to them. But seriously, try the burger! It was so good I didn’t even take the time to get a good enough photo to include in this post.
The cosy Cafe Grasswood (see 5 on our map) serves some seriously good sandwiches and shakes. While it does offer meat products like tuna or chicken it also has a variety of vegan products. You can even have some soy milk in your coffee for no extra charge. The choice of shakes, lassies and smoothies is quite big. It’s the perfect place to start your day in Udaipur.
We can recommend the tuna and egg sandwich and especially the Lemon Soda. Nothing is better on a hot day than some fresh Lemon Soda.
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We hope this Udaipur city guide gave you an idea of how awesome this city is. Especially if you’re on a tour in Rajasthan, you should make sure not to miss this amazing White City. If you want to experience this charming place by yourself then check booking.com and find the best hotels in Udaipur Rajasthan. We stayed in the Lassi Guest House (see 6 on our map) in Udaipur which was very good value for the price. Especially because it is within walking distance to a lot of the Udaipur attractions. If you’d like to read more about Rajasthan, we recommend you to read our post about its probably most famous city called Jaipur. Because of the calmer streets, the beautiful colours and the great accommodations, we also recommend Udaipur as a destination if you travel through India with kids.
Earlier in this post, we promised you the answer to the James Bond question. The movie we talked about is, of course, Octopussy from 1983. The Shiv Niwas Udaipur palace hotel was Bond’s hotel in the movie, the Taj Lake Palace Udaipur on Jag Nivas and the Jag Mandir Palace were Octopussy’s home and the Monsoon Palace was Kamal Kahn’s residence. This might be the reason why there are so many cafes in Udaipur with the name Octopussy. And there are many cafes that even show the movie on a loop – all day, every day!