By : Juhi Bansal
There are two faces of Udaipur, two seasons, two characters. If you visit Udaipur between April and October its a thoroughly laid back Indian town where you can relax, shop, eat all at your own pace. Thanks to the amazing off season offers by the three stalwarts of luxury (Taj Lake Palace, Oberoi Udai Vilas and Leela Palace Kempinski) you can even have a royal holiday on a reasonable budget.
Udaipur in peak season (November to March) turns into a small European city. You see foreigners everywhere you look, almost all places are crowded and staying in a small-ish Haveli is fun too. Both seasons have there own charm and if you were to ask me I wouldn’t be able to suggest which one is a better time to visit but depending on whether you want a quiet getaway or a wholesome holiday you can pick your season.
Not many know that I’ve grown up in Udaipur. Spent almost all my teenage years there. Even after moving out years ago, it is one city that calls out to me more than my own home and I’ve been happy to oblige every few months with a weekend visit atleast.
We (K and I) have done our bit of travel across some of the most romantic cities ( but somehow nothing tugs at our heart-strings more than Udaipur. Whether it’s the dreamy narrow lanes and romantic gondolas like Venice, cobbled streets and outdoor cafes like Bruges, exquisite spas and the feeling of being the only two in the world like the Maldives, magical lights and gastronomical delights like Paris-Udaipur has all of this and much more to offer!
If you’ve never been to Udaipur, there might be a long list of “must visit” historical sites that you or your travel agent will help you make but I’ve never run into someone who’s been to Udaipur only once. Yeah, the lakes are almost as magical as the Trevi Fountain in Rome and I firmly believe that if you’ve been there once, you’ll go there again! (not least because the beauty of your last visit will never stop mesmerizing you). So, this to do list is mostly for your second or third or progressive visits because the first one may not afford you enough time to sit back and enjoy these places.
(Note: The list is in no particular order)
1. Ambrai: (Best for:Dinner)Located on Lake Pichola, Ambrai probably has the most breathtaking view you would ever experience in your life. The menu has both Indian and International cuisines to offer but if you are a stickler as far as “genuineness” of the dish goes, my suggestion would be to try their Indian or more specifically their Mewari Menu. Khichdi, Govind gatte ki sabzi are some of the must trys. Just looking at the brightly lit lake and sipping on a glass of wine (again the menu is anything but elaborate there but it’s the thought that counts-isn’t it?) is an unforgettable experience in itself.
It’s better to call them ahead and reserve a lakeside table because they are always busy. Dinner bill for two with drinks Rs.1000-1500/-
P.S.: We normally carry only our phones to Udaipur so our pics may not do justice to the words on this blog. I have tried to pick up pictures from the internet and even though they are not the best, you still may get a fair idea about the places.
2. 1559 A.D.: (Best for: Lunch) This surprisingly is the only indoor place on my list. Ideal for lunches or desserts. It’s located inside a 16th century decor bungalow and the ambience is beyond description. Again won’t rate it very high on non-Indian food but their Indian non-veg dishes are a must try. The interiors are minimal but very tasteful.
Bill for two- Rs.800-1000
3. Upre: (Best for:Dinner) Upre literally means “up” or “upstairs” in Mewari. Located on the terrace of Hotel Lake Pichola, it gives you an amazing overhead view of the lake. You can see the beautiful calm lake, the brightly lit City Palace and listen to some live music (the mewari kind with dholak and shehnai). The individual tables are done up royally like tents and gives you a nice and romantic feel. The mewari food served here is to die for! Definitely try the Mewari egg curry or kadhi pakoda. If you are in the mood for some “Indian Chinese”, this is your place!
Bill for two: less than Rs. 1000/-
4. Palki Khana: (Best for: Snacks & Drinks) Situated inside the City Palace, Palki Khana is the best place to unwind after your long walks inside the Palace and the museum. With the lake on one side and the beautiful facade of the City Palace on the other, it offers an amazing view. In case you would just like to relax with a book and a bottle of wine…I cannot think of a better place to go to. What’s more-the beautiful Anokhi store right next to the cafe! It has the most amazing jewelry & apparel collection!
Bill for two: (drinks and snacks) Rs. 1000-1500/-
5. Savage Garden: (Best for: Lunch) Savage Garden is situated in a Godforsaken lane and you may want to ditch your car for an autorickshaw to get there scratch-free. This sent us off to Venice instantly-the same meandering narrow lanes to get to your favorite eateries. It’s completely safe otherwise! Run by a German couple who fell in love with Udaipur- SG is the one place in Udaipur where you can get authentic “videshi food” for desi prices. It’s a charming little cafe with idyllic interiors. Must trys include their home made gnocchi and pastas. Also give their desserts a go. Their liquor license is awaiting renewal but don’t miss their awesome coffee!
You may want to give them a call before you turn up unannounced as they are sometimes closed without notice.
Bill for two: Rs.1000-1200/-
So these are our absolute favorite places in Udaipur! It’s takes us less than two days to visit them all each time. Needless to say, you leave your calorie charts at home when you travel! Also, they are so easy on the pocket! Each place is quite reasonably priced for the amount of food you will end up eating there.
I have one more favorite place for times when we want to splurge and feel like the royalty.
Chandni Restaurant at Oberoi Udai Vilas Palace (Best for: Dinner)
It’s by the lake and the view is mesmerizing! Live music and dance (mewari and kalbeliya), an awesome selection of wines, staff that treats you like the Queen and an absolutely amazing ambience! Also, did I mention its a gastronomical delight! So, when you want to take your better half on that amazing date or celebrate something special with a friend-this is the PLACE!
It may be very difficult to get a table if you are not staying there but it’s definitely worth trying and pulling a few strings for, if you can.
Dinner for two- Rs. 3000-5000/- (depending on how much you end up drinking).
Hope you liked the post. Please write in to me if you have any queries about Udaipur be it eating out, finding a place to stay as per your budget or even shopping! I like to believe I know the place too well 🙂
Stay Gorgeous xx