For city folks, weekend getaways are like coming up for fresh air. There are few things we wait for as eagerly as long weekends to escape to picturesque locales that work like a balm on our city-battered souls. With its rich cultural heritage, history and bespoke luxury, Udaipur is just the perfect antidote we seek. What’s more, the destination is easily accessible from almost all major cities, be it Delhi, Mumbai, Pune or Ahmedabad. A short flight, overnight train journey or a few hours of drive and you are at the erstwhile seat of power of the inspiring Mewar kingdom. If you’ve been looking for a break from the same old escapades to hills or the beach, here are 10 reasons to plan a weekend getaway to Udaipur:
The Dazzling Crystal Gallery
The crystal gallery situated in the City Palace complex is just the kind of larger than life opulence you need to escape the reality, even if momentarily. The gallery houses rare crystal ordered by Maharana Sajjan Singh from England in 1877. Ironically, the Maharana died before his consignment arrived and these rare artefacts remained locked and forgotten for 110 years! Today, these adorn a large hall on the periphery of the palace building in all their glistening glory. From some of the largest chandeliers in the world to miniature perfume bottles, there is just so much here to hold you spellbound.
The City Palace
Be prepared for a long tour through the narrow alleys and several flights of stairs to be able to explore the entire length and breadth of this palace. Or skip the tour and head straight to a large opening between the Zenana Mahal and Mardana Mahal that houses some stunning relics that stand testament to the kingdom’s rich past. From full-body armours to silver and brass utensils, spears, swords, shields and entire buggy made of silver that was received as a prince’s wedding gift, this part of the palace is the most succulent slice of the past.
The Light and Sound Show at Bagore ki Haveli
Even though a light and sound show is organised at the City Palace as well, if you are going to catch only one, make it the one at Bagore ki Haveli. This hi-tech extravaganza portrays the legacy of House of Mewar with such pride that you can’t help but feel your hair standing on ends.
A Romantic Dinner at Ambrai
The Ambrai Restuarant set in an old haveli on the western edge of Lake Pichola, overlooking the lake and the City Palace in the distance, has a great vantage point offering a mesmerising view of this historic city. This restaurant with al-fresco dining and a lip-smacking menu that includes some classic Rajasthani delicacies done to perfection is a great place to enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner with your significant other, with the City Palace lit up and reflection of its lights adding amber hues to the lake water.
Street Food at Fateh Sagar Lake
Fateh Sagar is another popular lake of the city, thronged by locals and tourists alike for a quiet stroll on breezy evenings followed up by a binge on the delectable street food sold by vendors lining the lake’s periphery. From the humble boiled corn to gol gappas, chaat, momos, chow mein, shakes and cold coffee, you name it and they’ve got it.
Cheap Leather Goodies
The market in the vicinity of the City Palace is a gold mine of local craft. But the one thing you just can’t have enough of is the variety of leather goods available here. Leather bound notebooks, tote bags, satchels, purses, shoes, you’ll be truly spoilt for choice. If your haggling skills are on point, you’ll able to grab these at throwaway prices.
Vintage Car Gallery
For anyone with a taste for vintage cars, or automobiles in general, the place is an absolute treat. Set up in February 2000, the museum exhibits nearly 20 rare cars include two Cadillacs, an MG-TC Convertible, four Rolls-Royces, a Ford-A Convertible, a Vauxhall-12, besides antiques like solar rickshaws. The museum complex also houses a shell petrol pump that is still functional.
The Cable Car Ride to Karni Mata Temple
The cable car ride is a fairly new addition to Udaipur’s cityscape and one that attracts tourists in hoards. Set up with a view to facilitate ease of access to the sacred site, it has become a new way to take in the beauty of Udaipur, as it offers a bird’s eye view of the city. The ropeway is open from 9 am to 9 pm and it is best to plan your ride around sunset. The setting sun casting an orange glow on the Aravalli Hills and Lake Pichola makes for a breathtaking view. You can relish some mouth-watering delicacies at the kiosks on top of Macchala Hill. The ride back with city lights sparkling underneath makes for another fascinating experience.
About 48 km from Udaipur is a rare hidden gem known as Jaisamand. The second largest artificial lake in all of Asia, the water body stretches 14km in length and 9km in breadth. Built by Maharana Jai Singh in 1685 to offer employment to his people in face of a famine, Jaisamand greets you with an expanse of blue waters for as far as eyes can see, dotted with several lush green islands, big and small. The place will have you gaping with bated breath, making it the perfect quiet retreat for some soul-searching and reconnecting with yourself.
Palace Hotels and Resorts
If you have the moolah to dole out, Udaipur has some of the country’s best luxury hotels and resorts to spoil you silly with pampering. The Oberoi Udaivilas, The LaLiT Laxmi Vilas Palace, Taj Lake Palace – these properties brimming over with bespoke luxury are your chance to live life king size in the true sense.