All Rajasthani cities have one thing in common: they’re loud, busy, and chaotic. However, Udaipur seems to be an exception. A relaxed valley city, tucked in by the Aravalli hills and surrounded by glistening lakes. Udaipur was once part of the House of Mewar, the kingdom of the maharanas. Maharanas were proud rulers who considered themselves the rulers of the state in the name of Shiva. Today, the maharanas are long forgotten, but the city of Udaipur lived on. It made name for itself as the ‘White City of India’, even though there are more yellow-colored houses than white ones. In this blog post, I’ll share 5 things to do to have a relaxed time in Udaipur.
5 relaxed things to do in Udaipur
1. Hit the water: boat ride over the Pichola Lake
Udaipur is often compared to the romantic Italian city of Venice. This is because of the three lakes that surround Udaipur. The most well-known lake is Pichola Lake. The best way to see this lake is by boat. You can take a tourist boat, departing from Reshawar Ghat. It makes a stop at the Jag Mandir Palace, one of the two island palaces in Pichola Lake. Jag Mandir was used as a summer residence and party place for the maharanas, but it also briefly served as a shelter for refugees. Today, there isn’t much going on at the Jag Mandir Palace, apart from sitting down at the pricey cafe. However, I still recommend walking around the beautiful gardens of the palace. After sunset the Jag Mandir Palace is beautifully lit, so don’t forget to enjoy this from a rooftop terrace in the city.
2. Indulge in Indian flavours: cooking class
When I was in Udaipur, I joined Shashi’s cooking class. A lovely lady that started the class by telling her life story. Shashi got married when she was 19 and had 2 children. In 2001, her husband was murdered by their best friend. Shashi had to process this grieve on her own. According to the Brahmin tradition, a widow cannot leave her house for a year and it was forbidden to marry again. After years of grieving, Shashi managed to get work as a cleaner. One night her sons came home with an Irish tourist. The tourist stayed for dinner and was impressed with the food. He advised Shashi to start a cooking class, and she did. Shashi didn’t speak any English, but she managed to learn it through her cooking lessons. Today Shashi’s cooking classes are one of the most popular cooking schools in Udaipur.
The best cooking class ever
The cooking class with Shashi was one of my highlights in Udaipur. Not only did it offer me so much insight into the Indian way of life, but we also learned to prepare several Indian dishes. After we finished cooking, the table was filled with so many plates of potato and onion pakora, paneer butter masala, chapatis, and parathas. My favorite was the sweet paratha with coconut and anise. Delicious!
3. Sleep like royalty: go for a haveli
If you are going to explore the Rajasthan state, you should definitely consider staying at a haveli. A haveli is a historic merchant house with a closed-off courtyard. Most havelis are beautifully decorated with wood carving, traditional details, and colorful frescos. In Udaipur, I stayed at the Jagat Niwas hotel, a 17th-century haveli that is now turned into a heritage hotel. The location was just perfect: at the banks of the Pichola Lake with a view over the Jag Mandir Palace (magical at night!). Moreover, this hotel has a beautiful courtyard, a checkmate floor, several layers with little steps, and hundreds of plants everywhere. It really is the kind of place you don’t want to leave.
More Hotel options in Udaipur
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4. Time for some spirituality: Jagdish temple
Do you love checking out temples? Then you are in the right place in Udaipur. Right in the middle of the city, you can find the steps of the 17th century Jagdish Temple. With its three stories, this is the largest temple of Udaipur and fully devoted to the Hindu god Vishny. This temple is not only visited by tourists, but also by the locals. The Jagdish Temple is an important pilgrim stop for sadhus, religious devotees to the gods Shiva or Vishnu. Sadhus are colorful people with saffron-colored clothing, long beards, and painted heads. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any sadhus at the temple. Maybe it was because I visited the temple in the early morning.
5. dream about a luxurious life at the city palace
The City Palace is a definite must-see in Udaipur. The high walls of this palace are just as impressive as the palaces in Jodhpur and Jaipur. Moreover, the location is spectacular: perched on top of a hilltop nearby Pichola Lake. Udaipur’s City Palace is one of the largest palaces in the state of Rajasthan. The complex exists of four grand palaces and several smaller ones. Not only the exterior of the fortress is impressive, but also the halls inside are just as grand. Wall paintings, gemstones, glass mosaic, and even Dutch tiles: it shows the excessive lifestyle of the maharanas. Today, most of the rooms are part of the City Palace Museum.
More things to do in Udaipur
- I also recommend strolling around in the center of Udaipur. There are fewer cars here compared to other cities and the whole center is made up of winding streets and alleys. I also saw some nice wall art!
- There are more things to do in Udaipur than just a cooking class. Go for a yoga session, an art lesson, or get your henna on.
- Take a ride up the mountain temple of Karni Mata with the red cable carts. Unfortunately, I had no time for this, but I can imagine how beautiful the views must be.
Would you visit Udaipur?
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