7 ways to enhance your Udaipur experience
Udaipur is a renowned lakeside destination in southern Rajasthan visited for its romantic character by the Lake Pichola. Most travellers arriving at Udaipur typically visit the City Palace, do boating in Lake Pichola and visit some other monuments / temples. However, there is much more to Udaipur than what meets your eye. Let me put down some ways to enhance your Udaipur experience.
1. Horse Safaris
Ranches in the outskirts of Udaipur specialise in short to full-day safaris that offer countryside exploration unlike any other. The horses here are pure local bred Marwari horses. 3-5 hour safaris with a lunch enroute is most popular with travellers (shorter 1-2 hour and longer multi-day safari options are also available).
Note: Horse safaris are always conducted with appropriate gear and accompanied by an experienced guide.
2. Walking and Trekking Tours
There are a number of walking and trekking routes around Udaipur and the nearby Kumbhalgarh – Ranakpur area. An easy 1-2 hour short walk could involve visiting a village or a farm along with some countryside exploration. The most popular walks are of 3-4 hour duration to a nearby fort or lake or temple. Popular treks around Udaipur are between Kumbhalgarh and Ranakpur. This involves trekking through reserve forest areas of Kumbhalgarh and visiting ancient temples enroute.
Note: All walks and treks are accompanied by an experienced guide.
On a walking trail
3. Cycling Tours
Cycling tours around Udaipur comprise 1-2 hour recreational cycling around the old city and nearby countryside areas. The next level is a 3-5 hour cycling tour with about 50 kms of cycling. This involves traversing through villages and countryside trails either to a temple or lake. Cycling tours are popular with cycling enthusiasts and a group of friends looking for countryside exploration.
Note: All cycling tours are conducted with good quality bicycles with necessary safety equipments and are always accompanied by an experienced guide.
4. Heritage Walk
A heritage walk is a 2-3 hour walk through the old city of Udaipur that showcases the ‘real Udaipur’, its vibrant markets and offers an insight into its history & heritage. Here, you walk through the beautiful streets and meet artisans engaged in wide ranging crafts. You sample some of the renowned street food and explore charming cafes in the old city bylanes. A heritage walk is excellent for street photography and for capturing the sights and sounds of Udaipur. The walk also captures vantage views of the lakeside, the Lake Palace and City Palace from a distance. It is a must do for every experiential traveller.
5. Dinner on Lake Pichola
Lake Pichola is abuzz with activity all through the day and evenings. A dinner at Lake Pichola is a popular activity for travellers to capture Udaipur in completely different light. Leela Palace, Jagmandir Island and Fateh Prakash Palace have some stunning outdoor restaurants that are compelling options for special occasions. Amet Haveli, Jaiwana Haveli and some other small heritage hotels also have highly popular rooftop dining overlooking the lake and the Lake Palace. Dinner at Lake Pichola may be a bit on the expensive side but the views it offers, the romance it captures and the sheer experience it offers, remains with you forever and is therefore, worth every rupee spent. Lake Pichola dinner is specifically recommended for couples and honeymooners.
Note: During winter (October – March), it is better to make reservations at the restaurants before you arrive for dinner.
6. Offbeat / Experiential Stay
Udaipur has its character and romance, but it can also get crowded and touristy. There are stays in and around Udaipur that offer a completely non-touristy experience. Ravla Khempur (28 kms) is where you stay in middle of a village, Bambora (52 kms) is where you stay inside a fort overlooking the countryside, Devra (12 kms) is where you stay in an authentic homestay in the countryside around Udaipur, Bhindar (65 kms) is where you stay in a 400+ year old heritage haveli. Within Udaipur, there are homestays that offer a heritage character and a quiet stay away from tourists. At all these stay options, you may look forward to some homely ethnic cuisine, local village / countryside exploration and some quiet relaxing time.
7. Bird watching
Jaisamand Lake (65 kms from Udaipur) is a one of the largest artificial lakes in India (87sq km). There are eleven islands in the lake where one can find wide ranging migratory birds in winter. One can take a boat ride from the edge of the lake and explore the lake. There is a wildlife sanctuary adjoining Jaisamand Lake that can be explored for birdlife. A Jaisamand trip is typically a half day trip that starts early in the morning (7 AM) with a return to Udaipur by noon.