To the Land of the Kings 3: Udaipur

My next destination is Udaipur, where I arrive by train the next day at around noon.

I eventually reach my accommodation for the next two nights, the Lal Ghat Guesthouse, which sits on a scenic spot on the east bank of the lake. It’s not my original choice, actually, but the one I booked doesn’t have electricity, so they let me look for another one. After setting down my things in my room, I take a stroll outside. The city’s nickname as the most romantic in India becomes evident here, especially around sunset.

I cross a footbridge to get to Ambrai Ghat, where a namesake restaurant has a superb view of the lake and the Taj Lake Palace. I take in the scenery, but I don’t eat here. Instead, I head my dinner a few minutes’ walk north at the Millets of Mewar, an eco-conscious, vegan-friendly restaurant serving a variety of Indian dishes.

Udaipur’s imposing city palace is the largest in Rajasthan.
A city palace window provided its royal residents views of their dominion.
Boat trips to the Taj Lake Palace are popular especially at sunset.

Udaipur was founded in 1568 by Udai Singh, who was forced to flee when his city, Chittorgarh, fell to Mughal emperor Akbar. Udaipur proved less vulnerable to Chittorgarh and remained the capital of Mewar until 1818, when it became a princely state under the British, and eventuallypart of Rajasthan when India gained independence in 1947.

Today, the city is a well-known tourist spot and often finds itself in most itineraries around Rajasthan. Its scenic location and rajput palaces make it a favorite among travelers. This popularity has led to crowds and indiscriminate construction of buildings near the lake, so it’s not as idyllic as one is led to believe. But still, Udaipur represents a change of pace from the frenzy of Delhi, Jaipur, and even Agra. Though the main highways are still buzzing with cars, motorbikes, and autorickshaws, the noise and chaos all but disappear as soon as I approach Lake Pichola.

Pigeons flock at Lal Ghat at the eastern side of Lake Pichola.
The Daiji footbridge leads to Lake Pichola’s western bank, where restaurants with romantic views abound.
Ambrai Restaurant has romantic sunset views of Udaipur.
The Jagdish towers over a busy intersection leading to the City Palace’s Badi Pol (Great Gate).
Udaipur is known for its local crafts, particular paintings, and its main tourist drag is lined with souvenir stores.
Millets of Mewar serves eco-conscious vegetarian and vegan Rajasthani fares.

I spend the next morning exploring the City Palace. It’s the largest palace complex in Rajasthan, comprised of eleven different buildings constructed over a span of three centuries. The part that is open to the public is the City Palace Museum, which leads visitors to a maze-like circuit of narrow and low-ceiling corridors, claustrophobic rooms, and open courtyards.

After lunch in Millets of Mewar again, I spend the rest of the day just browsing the streets lined with arts and crafts. The area just east of the lake is filled with shops, turning it into a sort of bazaar that makes it a delight to explore. There’s a touristy vibe all around, but there’s just something about Udaipur that makes this city so endearing for me.

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