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3 Days in Udaipur, India

This beautiful lake city was the perfect spot to lay low and fill our bellies for three full days as we left the Old India desert beauty of Rajasthan for the New India bustle of Mumbai.

Udaipur is a great place to decompress and enjoy life after a month traveling around India. And we’re excited to have three days in Udaipur to do just that!

In this post, we cover our observations of this beautiful and intriguing place, as well as our favorite places to visit and things to do in Udaipur, India. We also discuss how to get to Udaipur from Jaisalmer (and Jodhpur).

At this point in our Asia travels, we’ve spent a month in China and now a month in India. We’ve enjoyed exploring old school India in Kolkata, Himalayan foothills and narrow-gauge railways in Darjeeling, Varanasi, Delhi, Agra, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Khuri, and now the stunning “White City,” “City of Lakes,” “Venice of the East,” or simply, Udaipur.

Three Days in Udaipur, India: A Guide for Travelers

 

map of india
Map of India: Udaipur highlighted.

Getting to Udaipur from Jaisalmer (via Jodhpur)

Udaipur is located in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, about 250 miles southwest of Jaipur.

Coming from Jaisalmer, it wasn’t immediately clear how to get to Udaipur, as there is no direct rail link between the two cities, which we found incredibly surprising given India’s vast network of rail.

Even if we had backtracked to Jodhpur, there’s still no direct service, even though Jodhpur and Udaipur constitute two of the most significant population centers in the state and are only about 150 miles apart.

We did find, however, that if you wanted to travel exclusively by rail, you can take the overnight train from Jaisalmer to Jodhpur, then hop the train to Marwar Junction, then to Ajmer Junction, then on to Udaipur — a very long journey for a very short distance!

Or…better yet…you can do what we ended up doing and take the overnight train from Jaisalmer to Jodhpur and catch the early morning express bus to Udaipur, which only took us about five hours and cost far less than piecing together a rail journey.

And best of all, it’s a surprisingly scenic ride over mountains and through jungle.

Taking the Express Bus from Jodhpur to Udaipur

In India, the government buses generally seem to be the safest based on our own experience and from what people have told us. We’ve found them to be reliable and generally on-time as well.

To catch the government bus in from Jodhpur to Udaipur, we got off the train from Jaisalmer a stop early at Raika Bagh, rather than taking the train all the way to Jodhpur station. Raika Bagh is where the government bus stand is located.

From the train station, it’s less than a five-minute walk out and around to the bus stand.

Our overnight train from Jaisalmer arrived at 5:10am and the bus to Udaipur was scheduled to leave between 5:30am and 6:00am. We purchased tickets for the bus at the bus stand right before departure, and were satisfied with the level of comfort and safety of our bus journey.

India Train Resources

Cleartrip.com — Once we learned of this site it was a lifesaver! It’s the best site for foreigners to purchase tickets online, though it does require a convoluted registration process outlined at Seat61.com.

Indianrail.gov.in — Official site of Indian Railways, it’s the best site for checking train schedules and piecing together complex trips.

Seat61.com/India.htm — This guy is simply a freak of nature and we love him. He’s ridden nearly every train line known to modern-day man and shares every little detail on his site — particularly helpful for understanding train travel in India.

feeding monkeys on bus from jodhpur to udaipur

Monkeying Around Enroute to Udaipur

We were a bit caught off guard when our bus pulled over high up in the mountains in what seemed like the middle of nowhere and the driver quickly abandoned the bus.

Often, this might be a cause for concern or a sign of a long delay, but in India on the road to Udaipur, it simply meant that it was time to feed the monkeys.

The driver pulled out a box full of bananas and ready to go, gave out a loud whistle and we all watched from the bus as a dozen or so Grey Langurs of all ages emerged from the jungle and waited eagerly for their treat.

While I’ve seen loads of monkeys over the years, many in the wild, I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything quite like this.

Watching the feeding frenzy unfold, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was part of the driver’s daily work routine and what compelled him to start doing it.

If you ask Lori and me why we love to travel so much, it really comes down to moments like these.

Little surprises that appear quite random and not the least bit contrived, that have a way of catching you completely off guard. The type of moment that seems so foreign from anything we would ever experience back in the States, but at the same time, familiar enough to easily process and connect with the experience on a human level.

As travelers, we thrive on experiencing unscripted slices of humanity that are not done for the sake of “the tourist,” and that would likely take place regardless of whether we were present or not.

Long term travel makes it possible to return home and see the mundane through a foreign lens, which fosters a deeper appreciation for places and things we had previously taken for granted.

feeding monkeys on bus from jodhpur to udaipur

But then again, this shouldn’t surprise me. One thing we’ve taken away from India is the deep empathy and connection people have with the life around them, which is reflected in their treatment (and worship) of all things bovine and the insane number of vegetarians.

Sometimes I wonder, though, why this same loving-kindness isn’t extended to other humans.

As an outsider, we observe based on our own perceptions and it’s difficult to understand how in many ways non-humans are elevated above some groups of people, especially those of the lower castes — not a judgment, merely an observation.

map of places to visit in udaipur india
Map of places to visit in Udaipur, India.

Things to Do & Places to See Over 3 Days in Udaipur

We’ve included the map above to give you a sense of where all of the top sites we focused on in Udaipur during our three days, including where we stayed (Dream Heaven guesthouse).

The center of the city is very walkable, though tuk-tuks (auto-rickshaws) are available near the waterfront as well as deeper into town.

Here is a list of our favorite attractions in Udaipur.

udaipur things to do explore

Explore Udaipur’s Streets & Alleyways

No matter how you end up in Udaipur, it’s hard to deny that this is one great city to wander around in for a few days.

While certainly showing its age, Udaipur is a beautiful place built around a handful of lakes and surrounded by dramatic mountains.

Owing to its historic city center and dramatic scenery, Udaipur has been the setting for a number of Hollywood and Bollywood movies, most notably the James Bond movie Octopussy, which they really play up in these parts. In fact, a number of venues offer daily screenings of the film.

Udaipur is also popular for weddings and honeymoons and is often billed as the most romantic city in India.

Walking around central Udaipur not only gives you a sense of history and culture of this amazing city, but also offers endless opportunities for getting lost in its bustling streets and winding alleyways.

And the best part is, you never know what you may find…

3 days in udaipur elephant traffic
Rush hour in an alley in central Udaipur.

 

3 days in udaipur shopkeeper
Chatting with local residents: A shopkeeper poses for a picture with his wares in central Udaipur.

Chatting up the locals in the city center was also one of our favorite things to do in Udaipur.

This part of town receives a lot of tourists, and local residents here seem to speak a lot more English than we’ve encountered in other cities across India.

But the best part about chatting up locals in central Udaipur might just be the relaxed atmosphere and absence of the high pressure touts we’ve encountered in places like Agra, Varanasi, and Delhi.

Students strolling through the narrow streets of central Udaipur after school.

 

udaipur in dry season
Panorama: Udaipur in dry season (click to enlarge).

We visited Udaipur toward the end of the monsoon season when the lakes were at their peak depth. Yet, large portions of the lake actually dry out for much of the year, making for a popular recreational area for residents.

Compare that with the photo below that we took of the same area (from a slightly different angle) during our stay in early September.

city palace 3 days in udaipur india
Three Days in Udaipur: View of Udaipur’s magnificent City Palace at sunset.

Tour the City Palace

You can’t spend three days in Udaipur without visiting the City Palace. Heck, the palace is so conspicuous, it’s virtually impossible to escape a view of it!

places to visit in udaipur city palace
Udaipur City Palace up close.

The City Palace is actually a number of separate palaces constructed over a span of 400 years. The entire complex is now a museum open to the public, except for Shiv Niwas Palace and the Fateh Prakash Palace which both have been converted into heritage hotels.

inside Udaipur City Palace things to do
Inside Udaipur City Palace.

 

 

udaipur city palace places to visit

 

taj lake palace places to visit udaipur
Taj Lake Palace (Jag Niwas), as viewed from Udaipur City Palace.

 

city palace things to do in udaipur

The palace houses a number of artifacts, paintings, and decorative furniture once used by its former royal residents.

3 days in udaipur city palace
Udaipur City Palace courtyard.

 

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Approaching Jag Mandir on Lake Pichola.

Take a Boat Out to Jag Mandir

Part of our City Palace ticket allowed access to the palace boat docks from where you can catch a ferry out to Jag Mandir, one of Udaipur’s famed lake palaces.

While it’s not the Lake Palace (Jag Niwas), it’s certainly worth the journey and the time strolling around the grounds.

jag mandir gate udaipur india
Jag Mandir gate, looking out onto Lake Pichola.

 

There is a cafe operated by a local hotel group within the palace courtyard. However, if you’ve spent the last month backpacking around India like we have, you may find the cafe prices a bit hard to stomach.

We passed on the food but opted for a couple of Kingfishers, which came to US$7.00 for the two. Given that we were used to paying about a buck each for beer in India, it seemed quite ridiculous.

But there isn’t a lot to see at Jag Mandir, and the highlight of being here may just be having a relaxing beverage and looking out at the stunning scenery.

A couple of midday beers turned out to be a good investment for prime seating in the shade.

taj lake palace udaipur india
The exclusive Taj Lake Palace Hotel (Jag Niwas), Udaipur India.

From the ferry to (and from) Jag Mandir, we got a close-up view of the famous Taj Lake Palace Hotel (not to be confused with the Taj Mahal in Agra or Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, of course).

Scenes from 007’s Octopussy were filmed here and now it’s an exclusive hotel.

henna tattoo india
Lori getting henna “tattoo” in the shop next to Dream Heaven.

Get a Henna “Tattoo”

If you’ve got 3 days in Udaipur, you might as well get some henna work done.

henna tattoo india
The Henna immediately after.

These Indian “tattoos” aren’t really tattoos at all, but intricate ink designs that fade after about two weeks.

henna tatto india
The final result!

Lori’s henna a day or two later, after the paste had dried and fallen off. We were pretty impressed with the work.

jagdish temple 3 days in udaipur india
Jagdish Temple of central Udaipur.

Visit 17th century Jagdish Temple

Jagdish Temple is located very close to our guesthouse, but we waited to visit it until our last full day.

Call it temple burnout or just bigger fish to fry in Udaipur, but Jagdish ended up at the bottom of our shortlist of things to do in Udaipur.

We were glad we did fit it into our visit and encourage others to visit as well. It’s not to be missed and is definitely worth exploring if you happen to be in this part of town.

jagdish temple 3 days in udaipur india
Looking out from Jagdish Temple.

 

udaipur monsoon palace 3 days in udaipur
Udaipur’s famous Monsoon Palace sits on a solitary outcropping high above the city.

Visit the Monsoon Palace

We enjoyed viewing the Monsoon Palace at sunset every evening from our guesthouse balcony. Sadly, this is as close as we got to exploring this top attraction.

Ironically, it was monsoon season that kept us from visiting. Every morning, we’d peek out to see what the weather was doing and would see nothing but a wall of grey in the direction of the Monsoon Palace. Ideally, we wanted to make the trip up there when we’d run the best chance of having a view, but the timing never worked.

All that to say, we’ve heard and read great reviews about visiting the palace and suggest anyone visiting Udaipur for three days to look into visiting the Monsoon Palace themselves.

There are a number of tour companies in the city center that offer day trips, and many guesthouses and hostels can also arrange a trip as well.

dream heaven guesthouse 3 days in udaipur
Udaipur skyline from Dream Heaven Guesthouse.

Favorite Bites: Where to Eat in Udaipur

We found Udaipur to be a most agreeable place in no small part due to the food! Udaipur has a great selection of cuisines and the food is top-notch, not to mention that the views at some of the places we ate were worth the cost of the meal, alone.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Dinner at Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel Restaurant

Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel Restaurant was our favorite place of all — a bit pricey for India (ran us around US$13 and we generally share a thali or entree/appetizer) but well worth it.

The dining room is in a really cool setting surrounded by the palace with a great view of the lake.

The restaurant serves Indian, Continental, and Chinese dishes, but they are known for their local specialties.

Dinner at Ambrai

Ambrai was perhaps our second favorite place to eat in Udaipur, with great views of the city, and within a short walk of our guesthouse.

Also a bit pricey by India standards (US$10 splitting a meal), but worth it. Most people seem to visit Ambrai for the atmosphere and the tasty tandors!

Breakfast at Namaste Cafe & Cafe Edelweiss

These two cafes are right next to each other, offering good coffee, tasty pastries, sandwiches, and European breakfast offerings that were better than most attempts we’ve come across in India.

If you’re from Europe or North America and missing a taste of “home,” these two places might quench your craving.

Dinner and/or Drinks at Jasmine Hookah Lounge

Near Dream Heaven Guesthouse and along the canal, Jasmine is a low key outdoor bar type place that serves snacks and drinks.

It’s a good, cheap bet for a quick snack or relaxing sundowner, but bring your mosquito repellent!

Anything at Dream Heaven restaurant

Coincidentally, the guesthouse we stayed in cooked up some of the tastiest snacks we had in Udaipur (try their cheesy naan!), along with a very good breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Best of all, we didn’t have to go far to enjoy it.

Not to mention, that view!

View of the old town Udaipur waterfront and Lake Pichola from our private balcony at Dream Heaven GH, which we used every chance we got during our 3 days in Udaipur, in between sightseeing and thunderstorms.

Lodging Recommendations: Where to Stay in Udaipur

Dream Heaven Guesthouse

Best. Guesthouse. Ever.

Or at least one of our top choices in all of Asia.

Whether you visit Udaipur for one day, three days, or an entire week, Dream Heaven quite possibly has it all, rooms with balconies and incredible views, A/C and hot water, great food, and a really nice common area atmosphere.

It’s the right balance of hotel [amenities, comfort, cleanliness, peace, and privacy] and backpacker/hostel [a good mix of travelers from all overcoming through and hanging out in the restaurant/bar].

Plus, it’s centrally located, yet removed (by a small footbridge) from the hustle and bustle of the city center and the majority of sights. All for about US$18 per night.

Be sure to book / request one of the balcony rooms above the restaurant — you won’t be disappointed.

Click here to check prices and availability.

 

 

One Final Word of Advice

The vast majority of travelers to India don't encounter serious issues with safety and security. With that said, we've had stuff happen affecting our travel — severe weather, road accidents, broken bones, and other nasties.

When we've had these sorts of setbacks while traveling, it's been a huge relief to have solid international travel insurance — from a financial standpoint, but also to have the support of English-speaking health care experts at any hour.

We use and recommend World Nomads for all of our independent travel overseas. We also have close family who have had good experiences with Allianz as well.

2 Aug 2019
1 Sep 2012

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