The city of lakes, the former capital of the kingdom Mewar and Venice of the East, this is how the world defines Udaipur. A city that finds special place in travel catalogs which often rate it as the best city in the world to travel (according to the survey in July, 2009) displacing Bangkok from the top position. The city has hitherto never been deserted of tourists irrespective of seasons and situations. The rich heritage and unmatchable hospitality will not let you skip this place from your travel itinerary.
Visiting Udaipur is just like visiting Saturn where you don’t just look at the planet surface but also the rings around it. There is so much in it’s vicinity that the city becomes a perfect panacea for any nature lover as well as for someone who is very much into God and spirituality. It has few of India’s most famous temples like, Lord Sreenathji in Nathdwara, Eklingji in city outskirts and Dwarkadhish temple in Kankroli. While entering the city from North at a distance of around 50 kms, you will find the temple of Sreenathji–one of the forms of Lord Vishnu. The temple being one of the richest temples of India is also famous as the Lord’s chin, and adorned with a dazzling diamond visible from quite a long distance. The people from Gujarat and Maharashtra are most frequent worshipers to this temple. There is one more temple, Eklinji-Lord Shiva at a distance of 30 minutes from the city. Lord Eklinji is considered to be the guardian deity of Mewar.
Lakes and Hotels:
For those who love classy and laid back holidays you must explore the never ending hospitality industry, esp. the hotels in this city. The city is located on the east bank of Lake Pichola. But the biggest attraction is the Lake Palace, a 5-star hotel in the middle of this lake (on an island-Jag Niwas) operating under Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces.
Jag Mandir is another island in the lake. One will remain dumbstruck at watching the hotel dressed in golden coloured lights from the Sunset point Doodh Talai (step well). You can actually see and feel the pomp and show while walking at Doodh Talai from the Lake Palace at night. Also, one could enjoy the Aerial Tramway from Doodh Talai to Karni Mata Temple. The Fateh Sagar Lake is another lake giving space in the middle to the beautiful Nehru Garden from where you can get a panoramic view of Udaipur city and three sides of Aravalli hills.
The city gives home to world’s one of the best seven star hotels, Udai Vilas Palace. It is said that even Indian cricket team once couldn’t afford to stay at this hotel because of its extremely expensive luxury services. Among other good hotels are Devi Garh Palace where Liz Hurley married her NRI boyfriend Arun Nayar; Shiv Niwas Palace and recently opened The Leela Palace, The Trident and Radisson Plaza and Resort. Overlooking luxury, if you wish to enjoy the traditional Rajasthani dance and music, you will love to visit Bagore-ki-Haveli. It’s an old building built right in waterfront of Lake Pichola. The folk arts and puppets show can be enjoyed at Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandal, an old museum.
Food and Restaurants:
The city contains a few very old restaurants where throughout the year you can enjoy the heavy tourist traffic. The Park View, located in the busy streets of Bapu Bazaar is one of the best and oldest restaurants in the city and second home to those who love chicken esp. handi chicken. The restaurant has many Indian tourists because of its semblance of being very old and hence a goodwill for most. Also, it find a special mention in travel diaries of many tourist guides for foreigners. Berry’s and Kwality are other old restaurants famous for continental food. To foreigners, these are the prime locations for meals at rather open places and not the closed hotels. Shikarbadi is another open air restaurant towards the south of the city. It was once a hunting ground during Rajput era and now a heritage hotel. Imagine a situation where you find the Maharajas of Rajasthan landing near by your table at Shikarbadi Airport, a small runway used by royal families. It is also a breeding ground for horses that are considered descendants of Chetak. Apart from exotic taste, the traditional dish of Rajasthan, daal-baati churma can be found at almost all dinning places. Though you need to have a strong stomach, yet its appearance and taste will definitely water your mouth. The best place to enjoy the local dishes amidst city life is Sukhadia Circle and the famous Natraj Ki Thali. The Sukhadia circle is a famous recreational centre and meeting place.
For those who have visited this place will undoubtedly be contented why Indian sections of James Bond movie Octopussy were filmed here, or the British television series The Jewel in the Crown. Even Disney channel could afford to wink at this place for its film, The Cheetah Girls One World.
Udaipur because of its rich heritage and culture is considered a virtuous place and it is because of this reason why many celebrities prefer it as a perfect marriage destination; Ravina Tandon is an example. Be it Swayamvar of Rakhi Sawant or Rahul Mahajan, you can have as many excuses as you want but you just cannot avert and move on if you are in Rajasthan.
The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz