Weekend trip to the City of Lakes
2-days itinerary for a solo trip to Udaipur
After back to back trips to the hills, I turned my travel wagon towards the warm state of Rajasthan and decided to go for a solo weekend trip to the city of the lakes, Udaipur.
Initially, I was a bit skeptic as I try to avoid the tourist hotspots but due to lack of options for a weekend trip, I chose to give it a shot.
Udaipur is around 740 kms from Delhi and it takes at least 12 hours to reach there. Mewar express is one of the best options to cover this journey with minimum trouble. It runs daily and you can get a seat easily if you reserve it in due time. My train ticket was one of the two planned things that I had for the whole trip. The second one was for my night stay at Moustache hostel. I boarded the train on a Friday evening and luckily my seat was the side upper. If you don’t travel much by trains, then let me tell you side upper is the best train ticket one can get when traveling solo. My coach was packed by a lot of senior-age people who were probably a part of a group aimed at utilising the post-retirement time by visiting different cities. It was happy to know that finally, people have started understanding that just making houses/buying cars wasn’t the definition of happiness in life.
Coming back to the trip, I had planned of making the trip itinerary during the train journey but nothing like that happened. Though I had a brief discussion with my friends from Udaipur who had helped me in listing out top spots in but there was no predefined plan for the exploration over the next 2 days. Thankfully none of the nearby passengers snored and the night passed quite easily. The train was right on time and I reached Udaipur at 7.15 in the morning.
The hostel was around 3kms from the railway station. I initially thought of booking Rapido but later changed my mind and decided to walk to the hostel. The weather was pleasant and there could have been no better option than walking through the streets of an unexplored city. It took me about 40 minutes and after roaming through the unknown pathways I reached the hostel. Though the check-in time was 12, the hostel has a common area where the early comers can chill and relax. But I didn’t want to waste my 4 hours just by sitting in a room. I dropped some of the stuff in the common room, freshened up and went out on the streets. The city had woken up by now and the hustle-bustle was back on the streets. Sounds of bikes cruising through the narrow roads, people talking and tourists walking around, all of this was different from my usual trips to calm mountains.
I thought of renting a bike for the next 2 days but since most of the places were in close proximity, I dropped the plan, atleast for the day. Wandering through the streets, I reached the Chand pole bridge. The bridge is made over Lake Pichola and is one of the favorite spots for local fishermen to catch fishes for the day.
After spending a few minutes at the bridge, I started walking towards the Jagdish temple. Though I am not a big fan of temples, the architecture of this temple was at another level. Built in 1651, the temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and has a 79 feet high spire. If sources are to be believed, around 1.5 Million rupees were spent at that time to build the temple.
Just a few metres away from the Jagdish temple is the famous City Palace. Known for the wonderful blend of Medieval, European and Chinese architecture, it has the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. In case you are not a fan of architectural monuments then it’s not a place for you. Instead, you can take a boat ride which takes one through the Lake pichola. But for me, the case was the opposite.I took the ticket and entered the palace. It was only 9 in the clock and luckily there weren’t many tourists in the palace. Most of the people around me were senior-aged foreign tourists following their guides who in different dialects was explaining them the history of each artifact in the palace.
Maharana Udai Singh had started the construction of the palace in 1559 which finally ended in the 18th century. It is structured in such a way that it offers a splendid view of the lake and the city of Udaipur from all its balconies and towers. It took me about 1.5 hours to go through the whole palace. By the time I left, the palace was full of crowd with people in every other corner.
After continuous walking for the last few hours, it was time to relax and the best place for that was Gangaur Ghat. Located next to the Bagore ki haveli, it is one of the primary ghats of Udaipur. It offers a good view of Taj Lake Palace, Jag Mandir and Mohan mandir. I sat there for a while looking at the scenic landscapes and then went to Bagore ki Haveli.
Built in the 18th century, the haveli has gone under multiple restorations and now has been converted to a museum for the tourists. The architecture is not as magnificent as the City palace and will hardly take 30 minutes of your time to do a complete tour. Some of the attractions are the puppet museum, turban museum, weapon section and the wedding section. The puppet museum has a setup of King’s courtroom made using puppets of different types and sizes. The weapon section portrays the weapons from the early 17th-18th century and the wedding section has multiple sets of jhankis showing traditional rituals in a Rajasthani wedding. Apart from these, Bagore ki Haveli is famous for the Dharohar Dance show which I didn’t attend 😬. The show takes place every evening at 7pm with traditional artists displaying the regional dance forms.
By the time I got free, it was already 12. And did I tell you, I hadn’t eaten anything since the time I de-boarded from the train. The stomach was growling and all it wanted was some good food. Had my brother been there along with me, I would have surely gone for some traditional cuisine but I just wanted a quiet place with some okayish food to serve. If you are a big foodie, then Udaipur is surely a heaven for you. Lake pichola has a lot of roof-top restaurants around it serving Indian as well as International cuisines. Going to famous restaurants meant getting into more crowd which I wasn’t at all interested. After going through 2–3 streets I landed at some restaurant next to the lake where the number of waiters was more than the number of customers. The view was nice and people were less, the best I could have got. I sat there till the time my body got revived with some energy.
Only half of my first day had passed and I was done with half of the spots on my list. I was bored, very bored. I had never been so bored on any trip. Time was more and places left were few so something new was needed. While sitting at the restaurant, I figured out the plan for the rest of the day and decided to walk upto my next destination- Saheliyon ki bari.
The place was around 3.5 kms from my location and wandering through the busy roads of Udaipur it took me about 40 minutes to reach there. Thanks to my all time friend Google Maps, I didn’t get lost 😬. Built on the banks of the Fateh Sagar Lake in the 18th century by Maharana Sangram Singh, the place has lush green lawns and fountains. As per the legends, the garden was designed by the king himself and he presented this garden to his queen. It’s an ideal place for a nice evening stroll.
Next up was the pear shaped lake- Fateh Sagar Lake. The lake is just 1.5 kms from Saheliyon ki Bari. It’s an artificial lake built around the 1680s by Maharana Jai Singh. There’s a nice 800m long bridge on the eastern edge of the lake where one can sit/walk while enjoying the surrounding beauty. The lake has 3 islands, out of which 2 are parks and the third one is used by Udaipur solar observatory. I didn’t visit any of the islands, instead, I sat on the bridge and relaxed for a while. There weren’t many people on the bridge at that time and I thought that was probably because of afternoon time.
But I was wrong. As I left the bridge and started moving towards the southern end of the lake, I realised that I was on the peaceful side of the lake. Most of the tourists were near the southern end enjoying the boat rides in the lake. There were long queues of vehicles parked on one side and groups of people on the other. I escaped through the crowd and went directly through the main gate of the Maharana Pratap Smarak. The site has a bronze statue of Maharana Pratap built on the top of the Moti Magri hill. To be honest, the place has an overcharged entry ticket for nothing much to see inside it.
Having seen the site, I decided to go back to the city. The last place left for the day was the Karni Mata temple. The temple is around 5kms from the lake and this time I booked a Rapido. There are two ways to reach to the temple- a 200 metres walk from the manik lal park or a 4 minute ropeway ride. In hope of getting some good views of the city, I chose the latter. Sadly it wasn’t worth it 😔. The view was exactly similar to what one could have got after reaching the top. There was nothing special about the ropeway ride other than waiting for 15–20 mins in the long queues.
After reaching the temple, I could see the whole Udaipur and it was just amazing. On one side were the lakes, the palaces and on the other were the residential buildings. The sunset from that place would have been magnificent but the clouds had other plans.
The sun went down and it was time to return to the hostel. I took the return ropeway ride, walked through streets and was back at the hostel. I was the last one to check-in at the hostel for the day. The staff was thinking that I wasn’t going to come 😂 and they weren’t aware that I had come in the morning and left afterwards. After checking-in, I took my luggage from the common room and dropped in my bunk-bed-room. The hostel has a nice roof-top restaurant and its location of just next to the river provides great views of the city at night. I was thinking to sit there for long but God had some other plans 😞. There was some sort of rooftop party going on in a group and every one was just drinking, smoking and dancing on loud music. Argh, 😤 I was just done for the day. I had the dinner, went for a short walk on the Gangaur ghat and was back in my bed.
It was around 10 in the clock and none of the other room-mates were back by then. With nothing much left to do, I plugged in my access card, turned on the fan and went to sleep 😴.
But the day just didn’t end there. Other folks in the room returned in late midnight and kept on talking loudly for hours.
दिन तो ठीक था , अब रात की वाट लग रही थी
Thanks to such great roommates, I could hardly sleep last night. I was in no mood of wasting today’s day just because of the bad night. I woke up around 7, got done with the morning schedule and was ready to leave the hostel. I took my backpack and as I was about to leave the room, came the first strike of the day. My access card wasn’t there in the slot 😐. Not submitting the card would mean letting my security deposit go. Someone had taken it and put a metro card in place of it. The other folks in the room were still asleep and with no idea who could have taken the card I didn’t want to wake all of them. I left the room and told the story to the housekeeping staff. He asked me about my card number and I was like
“What? There was a number on the card?”
I hardly had any memory of seeing a number on the card and remembering it was impossible. I asked him if there was any such number, then the reception staff should have written the same while doing check in. He looked at the register but there was no clue of number in that. All this was making the situation more tricky. If one had to question the other people in the room, then card number was required at least. But we still tried to give a shot and the guy came along with me to the room. He woke up the rest of the folks and I asked them about the card.
Luckily, one of the persons said that my card was there in the night and the other guys took it with them. Wow, we now have a witness. But guess what? The other guys denied taking any card from the room 🤷♂️ . Now what? I didn’t have my card number and there was no point in debating without proof.
We went back to the reception and woke up the manager. I told him the whole story and he was in the dilemma himself. He said that he was helpless and I had to wait till 10am when everyone checks out and they could do checking of the rooms. What the hell 😠? First, those guys made my night miserable and now here they made me waste two hours of the day. I had planned to start early and go to Sajjangarh Fort but the situation was just getting worse. I understood the condition of the manager as well and left for a walk on the Ambrai Ghat to pass the time till 10.
Ambrai Ghat is exactly opposite to Gangaur Ghat though the former is a bit larger than the latter. Being a sunday morning, there weren’t many people on the ghat yet. There were a couple of children playing around and some uncles on morning walks. Everything was calm, exactly what I was looking for. I sat there for an hour and then returned to the hostel. Not sure, if everything got sorted but on entering Manager returned me the security deposit. I bid farewell to him and checked out of the hostel. The first destination for the day was going to be the Sajjangarh Palace. Map was showing the distance as 7.5kms and there was no plan to walk for that long. I again booked a Rapido and left for the palace.
After reaching the entrance gate, I realized that there was a 4kms road inside the Sajjangarh Biological park which takes one to the palace. Woah 🤩 this was something interesting. There were two ways to reach the palace — either use the taxi service of the palace or walk all the way up hiking through the semi-hilly region. And I believe, you would have guessed it by now, I chose the latter. The walk was refreshing and much needed to put off the whole nuisance of last night and day.
Also known as Monsoon Palace, Sajjangarh Palace was built in 1880s for Maharana Sajjan Singh primarily to watch the monsoon clouds. There’s a nice garden and a cafe next to the palace. This palace was one of the best of all the places that I had visited so far in Udaipur. The hike, the scenery, the palace everything was just perfect. It took me an hour to reach the palace. On the south eastern side of the palace was the Lake Pichola and one the east was the Fateh Sagar Lake. Though there was a bit of haze over the city but that didn’t tone down the beauty of the landscapes that one could see from the palace.
While I was wandering in the garden, a group of 3 children approached me. They were school students who had come from Jalore(200kms from Udaipur) to Udaipur on a school trip. They were quite curious about the DSLR and were interested in knowing how to click pictures using them. It was a fun time interacting with them 😊. After they left, I continued with my tour of the palace. I was there for about 2 hours and then began the descend. It was somewhat around 1.15pm and I was back on the roads of Udaipur. The only thing left for the day was Shilpgram which was around 3.5kms from my location.
Since I was out of the main city area, there was hardly any chance of a getting a rapido and I started walking towards Shilpgram. But luckily, I got a ride within a couple of minutes. A quick bike ride and here I was at my last destination of the trip. The meaning of the term ‘Shilpgram’ is the ‘village of artisans’. Shilpgram is the lively and exclusive museum of traditional Rajasthani arts and crafts with a hint of Mughal and European history. The place has a collection of mud-huts of all different sorts along with open-air amphitheater. A 10-day festival is also organised every year from 21–30 December where artisans and performers from all over the country come to showcase their talent and high spirits.
I even gotta a chance to hear some Live traditional Rajasthani music which is performed by in house artists at different slots of the day. It was 3pm and I was done with the exploring the whole Shilpgram. There was still a lot of time left for the train so I decided to walk to the Fateh Sagar Lake. It was just 2kms away from Shilpgram and I was in no hurry. I reached the lake after half an hour and spent the rest of the time by chilling at the bridge. I was thinking to sit there till sunset but then I would have probably missed my train 😝.
It was finally time to leave the city of lakes. I booked another Rapido and reached the station in due time.
This trip was quite different from my usual trips. Though I try to avoid the hustle-bustle during the trips, but here I was back in another city. Experiences that I had were also a bit unexpected. I still don’t have a very concrete idea of whether I should explore more tourist hotspot cities like Udaipur or should I stick to my old plan of going to less crowded places.
Apart from all that, this trip helped me in improving my confidence of moving from a strictly planned life to having some spontaneity/randomness in things. Though it was a city trip, it still managed to make me feel as if I was in the hills by making me walk for more than 30 kms during the course of 2 days!
Vivek Sharma writes on travel, life and a bit of product management. You can follow Vivek on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
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