In retrospect, the first city I visited in India, Udaipur, became one of my favorite cities we visited. Udaipur is known for being one of the most beautiful cities in Rajasthan thanks to its numerous lakes, Raj-era palaces, and palaces in the middle of lakes. It’s a fairly manageable size (compared to the metropolis of Delhi and Mumbai), the compact city centre is historic and beautiful. It was easy to pick up a sense of direction and the buildings are architecturally similar and well-preserved. All in all, it was the perfect place to ease into the chaos of India.
There’s two things you shouldn’t miss if you’re lucky to visit Udaipur: the City Palace, which is one of the largest royal palaces in India, and a sunset boat ride around Lake Pichola. One of my favorite things about traveling through India was the immense history in each city; it was similar to Europe’s historical tourist attractions but with a new and refreshing civilization and culture. The palaces, museums, and fortresses are similar to what you might see in Europe, but you’re actually in India, one of the most unique (albeit sometimes frustrating) destinations in the world.
The City Palace, built in the sixteenth century (!!) is a beautiful collection of courtyards, rooms, hallways, and balconies. While I honestly didn’t pay too much attention to our tour guide spouting out random historical details and anecdotes (I’ve never been an auditory learner), I enjoyed soaking in and photographing the architecture. The lattice work, arches, tiles, and columns were incredibly detailed, and I had a bit of a mind trip thinking how they were created so long ago without today’s modern technologies. The City Palace also boasts a great view of the city, in case you tire of photographing the building itself.
The other activity I immensely enjoyed in Udaipur was our sunset boat trip around Lake Pichola, the main lake around which the city was built. While the lakes in Udaipur are manmade and thus the water levels vary from season to season and year to year, we were there when the water levels were normal. The palace in the middle of the lake, now a luxury hotel, was built several hundred years later after the City Palace but still retains a similar style of architecture. The views of the city were spectacular, and as a budget traveler, this was as close as I was getting to setting foot on the Lake Palace.
Another favorite memory from Udaipur was meeting my tour guide’s family. Shakti’s family lives in Udaipur, so he brought us to his parents’ house for breakfast before we left town. I really enjoyed seeing his family’s home, eating amazing homemade Indian food, and meeting his wife. I was shown incredible hospitality throughout my time in India, and this first incident remains one of my highlights of my tours. As Shakti grew up in Udaipur, he had a special love and enthusiasm for the city that really rubbed off on me.
I’ll share more from Udaipur, but for now, I’m seriously craving a cup of chai….