Where to Stay
I don’t think you need a guide to travel Udaipur. The locals are friendly as ever and you won’t have to look too hard to find someone who can speak reasonable English. If you choose you do want a guide usually if you hire a car for a day the driver more than likely can double as your guide.
Getting around the city
When you are going around the city enjoying the shopping and markets I recommend a lot of walking and maybe taking a quick cab or rickshaw ride here and there. However, when traveling a bit farther to visit the many palaces, Temples and Mosques Udaipur has to offer I recommend hiring a car maybe even for the day. Fares are cheap here. As usual though, be knowledgeable about how much a certain distance should cost. If you are confident on a motorbike this is a good option as well just be sure you are okay on busy Indian streets.
Local Shopping on Chand Pole Road
Shopping in Udaipur is a must. Have some cash on you to spend on various handmade goods. The main street along the East side of the lakes is called Chand Pole Road. This road leads to City Palace. I recommend walking this as it is narrow, and you’ll want to pop into the many shops spilling out onto the street. There are several shops to choose from, most of them selling a variance of the same products. It is a great street for buying gifts or a few memorable pieces for yourself. Scarves are big here and you can find anything from cheap printed ones to more expensive hand embroidered and cashmere ones. You’ll also smell the endearing smell of leather from the few leather shops on the street. Camel leather is a big thing in Rajasthan. That’s not all though there are handmade bags, pillow cases, wood carvings and so much more. I spent hours walking up and down the street comparing prices and bargaining. In the end, I stepped away with several scarves, hand embroidered pillowcases, and a handmade purse. Stand your ground on a price you want to spend, stick to it and more than likely you’ll find a shop that will match it. Like I mentioned above cash is usually best but some of the nicer shops may take international cards.
Hathi Pole Market & Tea and Spice Market
One of my favorite things to do in India is to go market shopping in India. In Udaipur, they have the Hathi Pole Market and a Tea and Spice Market along with smaller ones. They are both within walking distance of each other, so I recommend taking a cab to one end and walking to the other. Hathi Pole market has clothes, shoes, jewelry, pottery and more. Take time to stop and admire the care and work these shop owners put into their product. The Tea and Spice market is where you’ll see all the fruit and vegetable vendors as well as big stacks of spice vendors. I highly recommend shopping for a few spices to bring home with you, I guarantee your home-cooked Indian meal will taste that much better.
Where to Eat
Udaipur like anywhere in India will have some great markets for shopping and for street food. I recommend eating here especially if you’re on a budget. The restaurants in Udaipur can be pricey as they most likely accommodate western menu’s as well. Sukhadia Circle has many street food vendors and is a nice place to kick back and relax after a day of touring the city. If you are okay with spending a bit more money I would go to a restaurant with a view of one of the lakes. They look beautiful at night time.
What to See
Udaipur is known for having several lavish royal residences from the Mewar Dynasty. The city is separated by two artificial lakes, Pichola Lake and Fateh Sagar Lake. There are several Mosques and Temples around the city and outlying hilltops. I took a day traveling around and visiting the ones that I could. City Palace is a must and like I said you can take a tour after or before your shopping on Chand Pole Road. This palace took 400 years to complete. The décor on the inside is so detailed, colorful and rich. It consists of 11 residences and gardens alike. The palace overlooks Pichola Lake where Taj Lake Palace is located. Taj Lake Palaces encompasses an island in the middle of the lake. Unfortunately, Taj Lake Palace is no longer open to the public for tour or tea. In order to see this beautiful palace, you will have to spend a hefty sum to stay a night. You can take a boat tour to get a closer look at the extravaganza.
If you’re like me you’ll just take its beauty in from afar from any of the various hilltop palaces, Temples or Mosques. Monsoon Palace Sajjan Garh is right on the top of a peak and is a wonderful place to take in the views of Udaipur or watch your day end with an exquisite view of the sunset. Udaipur also has a variety of parks and wildlife sanctuary’s if you like to enjoy a nice stroll through the wilderness. Shilpgram is a cultural center a few kilometers outside of the city. It hosts a mix of shops, museum, and performance. It gives you a view of the people living in the villages in Rajasthan and Gujarat. The best time to visit is in December when they have their annual arts and crafts fair.
All together Udaipur is a beautiful historic city that you can do in 2-3 days. A must for those who enjoy ancient intricate architecture, shopping and a taste for the local food. Somewhere budget friendly and easily accessible. It’s a great stop if you are touring Rajasthan.