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Top Unforgettable Things to Do in Udaipur & Jaipur - A Travel Guide for the "Land of Kings"

Written By: Payal

My husband and I are both from Gujarat, India! I am Team Ahmadabad and he is Team Baroda. We both love going back to visit India as often as we can. India has so much to offer, and every region of India varies from its culture, history, and traditions. We have made it a point to explore a different part of India as part of our visits. Rajasthan has been on our destination list and we finally made a trip there in February 2020 (before the Coronavirus took over). Rajasthan is the largest Indian state and geographically makes up ten percent of India. It is impossible to cover all parts within the six days we had. We decided to start our journey with Udaipur and Jaipur, saving the other parts of Rajasthan for future trips.

Rajasthan is coined as “Land of Kings" because many Kings have played a role for thousand of years, towards protecting their regions from countless invaders with legendary battles, chivalry acts, and sacrifices. In fact, Rajasthan is so rich in its history that there are numerous Bollywood movies inspired by stories of the Kings and Queens as well as filming in the beautiful palaces.

I had HIGH expectations of Rajasthan and my trip defiantly surpassed all of them. The perfect words to describe Rajasthan are: MAGICAL and UNREAL! So far, I have only been to Udaipur and Jaipur but both places have captured my heart and I look forward to visiting again (and again) as well as discovering other parts of Rajasthan.

I am so excited to share our trip to Rajasthan and highly recommend any traveler going to India, to include Rajasthan as a destination to truly enjoy the country at its finest!

Traveling to Rajasthan:

o You must obtain a tourist Visa in advance to travel to India (if you are not a citizen). Be sure to look at the specific requirement from your country.

o Jaipur International Airport is the only international airport in Rajasthan. Many people land in Delhi or Mumbai and take a domestic flight to the area of Rajasthan you want to visit. There are options to take the trains/bus, but domestic flights are easiest way to get there. We drove from Baroda (our home town) to Udaipur and Jaipur.

o Traveling within Rajasthan is simple. Many hotels will have drivers that you can hire hourly or daily. There are also rickshaws you can take for short distances.

o Be careful of your belongings like you would for any new country you visit (crowded areas tend to have pickpocketing)


What to Pack:


o Check the weather condition for the time of visit and pack clothes accordingly. Avoid monsoon times (July- September) and summers (April – June). Remember, Rajasthan is located in the Great Indian Desert.

o Best time to go is November- February. We went during mid-February, and it was perfect. It was slightly chilly in the morning and evening, so grab a light sweater.

o Comfortable footwear, as you will be walking and some roads are unpaved.

o Medication

o Imodium- Diarrhea relief, when you need it- you need it! Make sure you have it for “just in case”

o Sleeping medications – time change makes it difficult to sleep

o Aspirin

o Personal medication you may need

o Sunscreen

o Mosquito repellant



Venice of the East – City of Lakes

Udaipur


Where do I even start with describing Udaipur, it was just the most unbelievable place I have ever been to. Udaipur is known for its picturesque Lake Pichola with views of Avaralli Mountain and the beautiful white marbled palaces! The tranquil boat-rides around Lake Pichola makes Udaipur a romantic destination and earns the nickname Venice of the East. Udaipur has a little bit of everything from romantic setting to the bustling narrow streets filled with the lively local art scene, it will leave you feeling fascinated.

Here are my favorite highlights of Udaipur:

I will start with Taj Lake Palace! This place is simply heavenly. Check out “Taj Lake Palace- Royalty at its Finest” for details on our stay.


Exploring Udaipur

Staying at the Taj Lake Palace was true tranquility when compared to exploring the bustling narrow streets of Udaipur!

The bazaars of Udaipur are meant to be explored by foot, bike or small rickshaws! We were driving with a SUV and props to our driver who could maneuver the big vehicle through the very small narrow streets. Highlights of our Udaipur trip:

Bagore ki Havali – do not miss the traditional Rajasthan folk dance at Bagore ki Havali. We went to the first show which is at 7PM. You can purchase the tickets online to avoid the line. We decided to purchase once we get there. The ticket counter opens 40 minutes prior to the show and usually there is a line, you also must purchase a separate ticket to wear on your wrist which allows you to take pictures during the show. It is open seating so get there early to get front row seats.

The show is staged in the outdoor courtyard in the middle of the palace (make sure to apply mosquito repellent). The hour-long show will have you entertained with live singing, music, and dance performance taking you through a journey of different parts of Rajasthan! It is narrated in both Hindi and English. The unique performance will leave you with lifetime memories of Rajasthan folk dance, the puppet show is especially a treat to watch!

Here is the website with details of the show and timings: https://app.dharoharfolkdance.in/


City Palace of Udaipur – This is the main attraction in Udaipur. The palace was established by Maharana Udai Singh II in 1559 and built onwards by 22 generations. The entire palace is built entirely of granite and marble! The astonishing magnitude of the palace will captivate you.

At the entrance of the palace, you must purchase tickets. You have the option of purchasing an audio tour or a tour guide (can request English speaking tour guide). We got a tour guide who spoke both English and Hindi. Unfortunately, we were not impressed with our tour guide because at the end of the tour he lured us into shops to purchase souvenirs (be aware of this- a lot of shop owners, tour guides will do this- you just have to walk away from them). There is limited parking past the gates of the palace. The City Palace will easily take up 2-4 hours to fully tour it and admire every part of it. I would suggest going in the early morning to be able to get pictures without crowds.



Streets of Udaipur- Take the time to wonder through the small streets of Udaipur. Just walk around the main streets of Udaipur where you will meet local artists eager to show their work and if you are interested you can also purchase it! We bought two signature art work known as miniature painting from local artists! You can lose yourself walking from one street to the other and discover gems of art and the local people!


Food: There are plenty of food options in Udaipur ranging from traditional local to international dishes. Rajasthani cuisine is influenced by its unique location in the Great Indian Desert. Lack of water shows that local food is heavy on sustainable grains and scarce on green vegetables. Do not miss trying local Rajasthan cuisines:

- Dal baati churma

- Gatte ki subzi

- Bajra ki roti

- Sev tomato subzi

Millets of Mewar- This was by far our FAVORITE restaurant! We loved it so much that we went back TWICE (both times for lunch)! The owners approach food in a holistic manner and are passionate about healthy, clean, and tasty food. Quality of food is nutritious using high quality grains such as millets (gluten free) and use filtered water to wash all their produce! Menu items range from traditional Indian food, to continental dishes, our favorites were the Mewar reginal local dishes (seriously, craving it while I write about it rn!) Everything we tried was WHOLESOME & DELICIOUS.

The restaurant has two floors, downstairs is indoors while the upstairs is covered rooftop overlooking Lake Pichola! The ambiance takes on a bohemian/hipster vibe with splash of turquoise on the wall!


Baro Masi: We went to dinner at Baro Masi, the food was alright but the ambiance was stunning! It has modern and contemporary ambiance offering tapa style dishes. The rooftop is worth a visit to enjoy a cocktail, perfect spot to catch sunsets!


Places we missed out on (always have to leave something for next time):

- Jag Mandir Palace (attraction)

- Shilpgram (attraction)

- Upre (restaurant- make reservations)

- Library Bar (drinks at Leela Palace)

The Pink City

Jaipur

Jaipur is the capital city of Rajasthan and known for the splash of rustic pink with intricate white lattice painting on all the architecture! Like every part of Rajasthan, it has a deep history. The city was painted pink in 1876 by Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh to impress Prince Albert’s during his first visit to India! The color pink represents hospitality and since its made with calcium oxide, it is durable amidst the dry heat of Jaipur. He even constructed the lovely Albert Hall to host a concert for the Prince! Albert Hall is one of the top tourist attraction, there is colorful lightshow surrounding the palace every evening. The Pink City is full of forts, palaces, many attractions and also known for SHOPPING!

Lets start with where we stayed:

J.W Marriott- We enjoyed our stay at the JW Marriott villas! The property is massive with beautiful private villas. The service was amazing, we stayed there during Valentine’s day and the whole place put on a grand decor for the holiday. Our favorite was the breakfast buffet with so many options to pick from, the hosts were kind and checked on us frequently.

Unfortunately, we were not feeling well during our Jaipur trip so decided to take it easy.


Exploring Jaipur


Amer Fort: The first day we went to Amer Fort (or Amber Palace). There is a back entrance which allows you to drive up to the entrance (luckily, our driver knew of the route). You can take a go-cart (tuk tuks) or elephant towards it. However, it is advised not to ride on any of the elephants due to recent concerns about elephant abuse and being mistreated by owners. Once you get there, you must purchase entrance ticket and recommended to get a tour guide. Luckily, we got an awesome tour guide who explained everything in great detail in both Hindi and English, he even took awesome pictures of us! The palace is spectacularly enchanting. The fort is balanced with Mughal and Hindu architecture with artistic elements throughout the four courtyards! Since it sits on top of the hill, it welcomes a pleasant wind! This will take you easily 2-3 hours to explore. I was just amazed by how well the fort was built and how well it still stands after all these years!

There are souvenir shops located there but it is overpriced, I would suggest shopping in the main city area


Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds): this is located in the main city area and best to view it from outside! It is a five story structure built in 1799 with 953 small windows shaped like honeycomb with artfully crafted latticework! Hawa Mahal is just an exterior structure, designed for royal women to observe activity on the streets without being seen. Royal women had strict rules of “purdah,” which means they can not show their face in public. From behind the Hawa Mahal, the royal women can watch festivals and enjoy the cool air during heat waves in the summer. The beauty of it is viewed from the street, you can purchase a ticket to view the back but there is not much to see.


City Palace, Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal are all near by each other! They are also top attractions in Jaipur but we did not visit them, as we were not feeling well.

Patrika Gate: This is a dream for photographers! The whole structure is designed to capture beautiful pictures. It has nine pillars hand painted with vibrant colors to tell the history of Jaipur and different parts of Rajasthan. There is no fee, it is open to the public. Best recommended to go in the morning as it quickly becomes crowded.



Food:

Steam- We stopped here for dinner on our first night. It is quite an experience as the restaurant has restored an old Victorian station for a fine dining experience! Great service and great food, especially the pizzas! We went here because we were tired of eating Indian food and wanted were craving PIZZA! Steam is located within the Rambagh Palace, a hotel owned by the Taj Hotel Group! Unlike the exclusivity at Taj Lake Palace for overnight guests, the Rambagh Palace allows non-guests to dine at their restaurants.


Bar Palladio- Excellent spot for a drink (opens at 5 pm). The ambiance takes on a beautiful white and navy blue painting, giving you a refreshing break from the peach/pink overtaking Jaipur. The cocktail menu had signature Indian flavors, my husband opted for a classic Negroni and the bartender did not disappoint on any of our cocktails! I would highly suggest stopping here for drinks and the hipster atmosphere. The place had many reserved tables, so make sure to make reservations prior!


Café Palladio- sister location to Bar Palladio and equally as beautiful. We got a few appetizer plates here and it was yummy! Both Bar Palladio and Café Palladio are highly instragrammable spots with complimenting food and drinks!


SHOPPING: Jaipur is KNOWN for its COTTON, JEWELRY, and JUTTI (classic Indian flats)! Although, we were not feeling well, we saved our energy to go shopping! My mother-in-law was in shopping heaven with all the cotton outfits Jaipur had! She swears by the Jaipur cotton dresses to get her through the hot summer days when all other clothes feel too thick! The cotton blankets and sheets are amazing too with intricate designs! I would recommend shopping on the main street, there are plenty of stores and go to the ones that draws you in by what they hang on the outside. The salesmen are very adamant for you to go into their shop but you can just walk away if you are not interested.

Things we missed out on:

- Jaigarh Fort (attraction)

- Suvarana Mahal (dinner)

- City Palace Jaipur and Jantar Mantar (attraction)

- Choki Dhana (local food)

The charm of Indian royalty can be felt throughout Udaipur and Jaipur, no wonder it is called "Land of Kings." The memories we made in Rajasthan are forever etched in our hearts and we cant wait to go back!



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