There was something very different about Udaipur from the moment we arrived. It lacked the very distinct chaos that had become the norm elsewhere in India to date. Jumping off our late train, we were approached by one – just one – auto-rickshaw driver who knew exactly where out guesthouse was and offered a reasonable rate first up. As we drove towards our destination – without the typical frantic nature of most drivers – we couldn’t believe how quiet it was. Peaceful. Clean. Beautiful.
They were words we continued to use to describe our stay in the beautiful city of Udaipur in Rajasthan, India. Voted India’s most romantic city, Udaipur first gained international popularity when it’s Lake Palace Hotel was featured in the Bond film ‘Octopussy’ – there are a number of guesthouses that still feature the film every night.
The shimmering Lake Pichola is one of the most picturesque locations in Udaipur. Surrounded by stunning palaces, temples and an array of accommodation choices – both humble guesthouses and more opulent hotels – a rooftop terrace overlooking the city is the place to be to enjoy the views over the lake and out towards the hills. It was from the terrace rooftop of our hotel, in the beautiful warm sun and under the blue skies that I made the comment to Mike “I don’t even feel like I’m in India. There’s no noise, no honking, no animals. Just us and this beautiful sun, the stunning blue sky, birds of prey circling above and these stunning views with such beautiful buildings. This feels like a seaside town in Italy or France…”
As my birthday fell during our stay in Udaipur, we upped the ante and splashed out on a nice hotel for our visit. We stayed at the Lake Pichola Hotel, in the Hanuman Ghat area of Udaipur. We had originally booked a garden view room, but were offered an upgrade to a lake view room for just an extra $20 AUD a night – as opposed the the $40 upgrade option online, so we took advantage of the offer and swapped rooms.
It was one of the best parts of our stay – opening up the curtains each day and letting the beautiful morning sun into our room. From our little balcony, we’d soak up the warmth of the sun rays, drinking endless cups of steaming hot marsala chai. We would listen to the musical instruments being played as part of the Hindu ceremonies next door, and watch the women across the lake do their washing – their saris, pink and orange, a beautiful contrast against the pale yellow of the buildings.
Our long, lazy mornings turned into long lazy days in Udaipur. In our three days, we only visited two ‘must see’ places – the City Palace, and Jagmandir Island. The rest of the time, we spent doing not much other than reading, eating, drinking tea, soaking up the sun, taking naps, getting massages, and playing with puppies in the street. Do we feel like we missed out by not making the most of our visit? Not at all. Udaipur was simply the nicest, most relaxed place we’ve visited in India so far, and we wanted to make the most of it, not knowing how soon we’d have the opportunity to do so again.
And we’re glad we did – in the 24 hours since leaving we’ve had our first bout of gastro, a 6 hour bus ride from hell and now we both have a cold….
For us, ‘a nomadic existence’ is existing and living life nomadically – from place to place. It’s not always about ticking off every sight, experiencing every thing there is to do. In day to day ‘normal life’, we wouldn’t be out and about doing something out of the ordinary every day – and the same goes for whilst we live away. Doing too much too often becomes incredibly tiring, and that in turn wears you out further and your future plans are impacted.
In Udaipur, lounging on a rooftop cabana in the sunshine, sipping marsala chai and watching boats cruising past on Lake Pichola for hours on end was the best way we could have spent our time in India’s most romantic city…
- How to get there?
There is a small airport approximately 25km from the city of Udaipur, and you can fly here from either Delhi or Mumbai each day. Alternatively, you can get a train from most major cities in Rajasthan. We came from Jaipur – 7 hours.
- Where to stay?
We stayed at the beautiful Lake Pichola Hotel and highly recommend them. The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful and accommodating in Mike’s special requests for my birthday celebrations. The rooms are clean and comfortable and the lake view rooms are spectacular.
We booked the cheapest room online through Agoda, and were offered an upgrade once we checked in for half the price of the online upgrade option – keep this in mind when making your reservation!
If this is out of your budget, there are plenty of guesthouse lodgings available – the lake area is where you want to be. Lal Ghat (the city palace side) has more options but is quite noisy and frantic. Hanuman Ghat (opposite the city palace) is much more relaxed and quieter, with better views.
- Top Tips
For the healthiest Indian food you’ll eat, visit Millets of Mewar, near the footbridge on the Hanuman Ghat side of the lake. Service is a little slow but the food here is incredible – with everything from vegetarian to vegan, gluten free and fresh vegetables. Yum!