We were given opportunity to spend three weeks living and volunteering in Udaipur and in that time we managed to explore every inch of this gorgeous little lakeside city. It soon became apparent that Udaipur is very much a city of two halves; split between its more tourist focused centre and its bustling local outskirts. Despite most tourists sticking to the old town centre streets, which run outwards from its main square, Udaipur has so much to offer if only you explore a little further! The more local side of the city is a bustling, vibrant place where you can witness a more real day to day atmosphere of life in Udaipur outside of the tourist realm!
Here we will show you all the best things to do so that you can fully explore both halves of this enigmatic city!
“The Touristy Centre”
Running away from the main square outside Jagdish Temple and working its way down to the edge of Lake Pichola, the historic old centre of Udaipur is now very much a tourist haven. Like most cities which are on a popular tourist trail, Udaipur’s centre is filled with shops, multi-cuisine restaurants and guest houses all aiming to draw in and accommodate the tourists which flock here. That being said it’s still a beautiful city centre which buzzes with life through its small alleyways, temples and lakeside ghats.
You will know once you reach the main square as there is always a hive of activity here with mopeds, cars and people all jostling through to reach one of the five streets which wind outwards from it. From here you can get to just about anywhere in Udaipur! We loved sitting on the steps just across from the temple and soaking up the atmosphere with a chai in hand! (see post here! about where we got it)
The main attraction in the square is Jagdish Temple; unmissable with its tall glistening white staircase and ladies selling flowers at the foot of it. It’s free to go in just make sure you are respectfully dressed. We wandered around here a few times just to look at the ornate detailing on the temple building and sit a while and listen to the ladies chanting their prayers inside. It’s a small temple but packed with energy! See if you can spot the lady sitting in the wall serving water…
If you take the road which runs directly past Jagdish Temple you will eventually reach the famous Udaipur City Palace. This place stands tall and majestic overlooking both Udaipur and Lake Pichola.
You can go into the grounds for just 30 rupees or if you want to explore inside the Palace and museum it’s 250 rupees. It’s also 250 rupees if you want the pleasure of taking in a camera – we didn’t pay on this occasion but kind of wished we had as the inside is really very beautiful. It’s takes around an hour and a half to look around so leave yourself enough time to browse each of its glittering rooms! If you’re feeling flush there’s also a crystal room inside that you have to pay 500 rupees for the pleasure of seeing…crystal fans, go for it!
If you don’t have the time or money to go inside City Palace or you just want to see it from another angle after exploring inside, we highly recommend heading across the river to Ambrai Ghat. Here, you can get an unobstructed view of the whole City Palace and it’s truly spectacular.
To get to Ambrai Ghat, take the footbridge across from the main town side of Udaipur to the small island on Lake Pichola. From here take the first left and walk all the way to the edge of the island. When you walk out into Ambrai Ghat it will take your breath away! This is a beautiful spot to sit a while by the breezy lake, take in the views of City Palace and the locals who often wash down here. Also a fantastic spot for sunset!
Situated next to the Bagore Ki Haveli museum, walk underneath the archways and come out onto the small but picturesque Gangour Ghat! Here you can sit right next to the lake and soak up the sun, the lakeside views and the peace and quiet. There is a great little bakery called Edelweiss just before you get to the Ghat – we often bought a little cake treat and sat on the platform enjoying the views for a few hours!
Bagore Ki Haveli
This Haveli building now actually a museum is probably best known for the traditional Rajesthan dance show that happens everyday at 7pm. Us being terrible tourists didn’t actually explore the museum and we were told it wasn’t spectacular but if you’re looking for something else to do in Udaipur then it might be worth a visit! If not the museum, then definitely head to the dance show and witness the extremely colourful and actually quite funny show which only lasts an hour, so you wont get bored!
Every street which winds its way outwards from the main square here is absolutely brimming with shops selling everything from the usual clothes, bags and textiles to more traditional miniature artwork and antiques. It really is a shoppers paradise here and in our eyes is one of the best places to shop in India. Just make sure you’re ready to haggle hard!
“The Local Outskirts”
If you follow the street that runs alongside Lake Pichola and keep going until you pass Zostel and start heading down a small hill you will eventually reach what we like to call the “real Udaipur”. Quite different from the old town centre this is more like the India you (or we!) know and love; the crazy hum of traffic, busy markets and people going about their daily lives. Not quite as beautiful as the centre of Udaipur and definitely not so peaceful but with still so much to offer we recommend leaving the bubble of quiet Lake Pichola and heading down to explore at least once during your stay!
Hati Pol or Elephant Gate, as it’s known, is the main local market area for locals living in Udaipur! A stark contrast from up the hill you wont get hassled here at all and you will pay probably half the price for the same thing you bought from the Lake Pichola area….so shop around! It’s vibrant colours and hectic traffic are enough for a quick tour around but if you want to save some cash this is where you want to do most of your shopping!
The daily market in Udaipur is held near Delhi Gate just a little further up the road from Hati Pol. Even if you’re not interested in buying anything it’s a great hive of activity here and absolutely covered in colour! The fruit and flower sellers were the real highlight for us!
Just along Bapu Bazaar near to Delhi gate you can find, in our opinion, the best restaurant in Udaipur. It’s not frequented by many tourists (apart from everyone Zostel sends) but we think that makes it even better! Called Natraj Hotel it only serves Rajasthani Thali but my god does it do it well! For 140 rupees you get all you can eat Thali including rice, poppadoms, rotis, a number of curries, chutney and we got these delicious little fried balls – no idea what they were called but great all the same! We kept the food rolling (all you can eat really means all you cant eat here!) and by the time we were finished we were ready to burst! We all had to go back to the hostel to lie down for a while! Amazing food and a must visit to sample real Rajasthani food!
Great Street Food
The street food on this side of town is also incredible! Maybe try it on a different occasion to your visit to Natraj as you will likely need to save room. You can find all the traditional Indian street food snacks here from amazing pyaaz kachoris to pani pouri and goulab jamon. Read our street food tour here to find out all the best places!
We hope you love Udaipur as much as we did and please let us know if you find any other hidden treasures!
C & J