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Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to 24 hours in Udaipur itinerary. Look around you right now. Are you gazing at grey cubicle walls? Staring out a window on a cold rainy day? Admiring your cat’s whiskers? Wouldn’t you rather be basking in the glow of some of Asia’s loveliest lakes? Wouldn’t you rather try an amazing 24 hour Udaipur itinerary?
As we’ve explored India, some of the stops have been in more obscure places like Bundi and Bijaipur. But there’s nothing off the beaten track about choosing Udaipur as the destination for your travels. The city is so famous for its beauty that it has earned the nickname “The Venice of the East”. (Some of you might be thinking St. Petersburg, Russia is also sometimes called The Venice of the East, but I say pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.)
In your Udaipur itinerary, you’ll get out on those lakes and hobnob with royalty, cook an authentic Indian dinner, and pose for the world’s best Facebook profile picture. Just follow me!
Keep in mind that, unlike most of my 24 hour itineraries, I did this Udaipur itinerary on a group tour with Intrepid Travel’s Classic Rajasthan tour. I highly recommend it if you don’t feel like exploring a huge country like India solo. The Intrepid tour arranged most of our activities in this Udaipur itinerary, but you could certainly experience the same Udaipur itinerary on your own. I’ll give you all the tips you need!
24 Hours: Udaipur Itinerary
What to Pack?
You’ll need comfy shoes for all the walking we’re going to do today. If it’s summertime, I love my special pink Birkenstocks. These aren’t your grandpappy’s Birkenstocks anymore. They come in every shade, and I always get compliments on my electric magenta shoes.
India is hot in the summer, so don’t forget the sunscreen. My favorite is the Neutrogena spray bottle because it’s so easy to apply. And as a solo traveler, I can actually use it myself on my own back. I just put it in my purse and re-apply throughout the day.
Finally, if you’re not from India, you need a universal adapter if you’re going to plug in electronics. Indian electrical outlets don’t work with American plugs. I suggest the NEWVANGA travel adapter. It’s usable with any electrical outlet in the world, so you won’t need to keep buying new adapters. I always carry two with me, just in case something happens to one.
24 Hours: Udaipur Itinerary
Morning: City Palace
Since we might only have 24 hours in our Udaipur itinerary, I’m assuming you’re going to want to hit the top destination right away, Internet Stranger! And that attraction would be Udaipur’s City Palace, according to City Palace’s promotional materials.
If you spend any time at all in Rajasthan, Udaipur’s home state, you’re going to get used to seeing castles everywhere. At first, my inner Disney princess would squeal with glee every time I saw one, but eventually you get used to it, just like Disney princesses get used to having mice talk to them and sew their clothes. But City Palace truly stands out among the palaces of Rajasthan. Don’t skip this one.
You’ll probably want to book a local guide to take you around City Palace. Ask your hotel for help in finding one. But whether or not you have a guide, I can focus your exploring with…
three fun facts: udaipur city palace
1) why is udaipur city palace?
There lies a long and complex tale. But I will give you the short version. Like many castles in Rajasthan, Udaipur City Palace was built in the 16th century. It was the palace of Maharana Udai Singh. But over the years, the other Maharanas added on to the palace, making it the gorgeous twisted marble giant cupcake that it is today. (I say this with no disrespect. Cupcakes are amazing, and so is Udaipur City Palace.)
As with any good palace, there are many legends surrounding its origins. I was hoping some of those legends would involve dragons or unicorns or talking mice, but sadly no. The legend of the fire pit (pictured in my photo above) says that the guru Goswami Prem Giri told the Maharana to build his palace on this very spot.
I must say that was very convenient for the Maharana having the guru give his palace legitimacy like that. I’m not saying it didn’t really happen–but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Maharana exaggerated a bit.
2) what are the prettiest spots in the palace?
Boy are you in luck! The City Palace has some of the most gorgeous sights you’ll find in all your travels in Udaipur. Don’t miss the Toran Pol at the entrance to the palace. (Pol means gate.) The Toran Pol was used in weddings for the princesses of Udaipur’s royal family.
A crown called a Toran would be tied to this gate. When the foreign prince entered to get his wedding on, he would have to touch the crown. I suppose this symbolized his willingness to always obey his mother-in-law.
But you can find a myriad of other wonders during your travels in Udaipur City Palace. There are charmingly vintage flowered tiles…
Here we have a room with disco walls…
And a truly bananas collection of Very Fancy Windows. Go wild taking photos here! I don’t think the City Palace advertises their photo ops enough. Their slogan should be, “Come to Udaipur City Palace! Your Instagram will blow up!”
3) who were some famous maharanas?
Over the centuries, many maharanas have ruled from City Palace. But two of the most interesting lived in the 20th century. Above, you can see a Madame Tussaud’s wax figure of Fateh Singh. He is most famous for refusing to meet with King George V of England when he visited India. (At the time, England was forcibly occupying and ruling India.)
Fateh Singh is shown with the empty chair because George V had called all the ruling princes of India to meet with him. Each ruler was given a special chair. I suppose this was like the Knights of the Round Table if King Arthur had been oppressing all the other knights. But Fateh Singh’s chair was empty, since he did not attend the event.
Another notable Maharana was Fateh’s son, Bhopal Singh. Bhopal was an invalid, and he needed support to walk. So he was the first Maharana to have a lift installed in the palace. If you’ve ever wanted to see an Indian lift that predates WWII, now is your chance!
I admire Bhopal’s ingenuity, but I don’t admire this creepy paper doll version of him that the City Palace has on display. This is the second most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen, after that evil clown that lives in my basement.
24 hour tip
I promised you the best Facebook profile picture spot, and here it is! You can either walk around until you find this doorway, or just ask your guide where to find it. I guarantee all the guides in City Palace know where the best Facebook profile picture spot is. I used this as my picture, and it got more likes than any other picture I’ve ever posted. It can do the same for you!
24 Hours: Udaipur Itinerary
Afternoon: Explore Udaipur
Udaipur is one of the most charming choices for your travels in India. People come here for a short trip, fall in love, and never want to leave. Almost every single person in our tour group (except for this one mean old Canadian lady) wished we had more time here.
So I encourage you to not set a super strict itinerary for your afternoon of travels in Udaipur. Wander around and get all up in whatever strikes your fancy. But I can point you in the direction of some of the most spiffa-rific sights with…
approximately top 5: Udaipur Itinerary
1) Jagat niwas palace hotel
Do you like stunning views and quality gin? Then you should definitely stop for lunch at Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel. As you will see on approximately eleventy-jillion signs at this hotel, it was one of the shooting locations for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. So you could be slurping the very same gin cocktail that Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith slurped!
I recommend the chutney wale aloo if you like coriander. It’s a piquant dish, and I had never seen it on the menu of a restaurant in the US. Indian food in India is obviously so different from the Indian food in the US. I preferred the food in India because it’s spicier. (Aloo is one of the few words in Hindi I managed to learn. It means potato. It’s easy to remember–just think “Aloo there, Mr. Potato!”)
But you’re not here for the aloo or even the gin, even though they are good. You’re here to feast your eyes on that amazing view. Gaze upon it and reminisce about that scene in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel when Bill Nighy murders Tom Wilkinson by pushing him into this lake. (Not sure that actually happened. I didn’t see the movie.)
2) jagdish temple
This temple is one of the most impressive attractions you’ll find in your travels in Udaipur. It stays open until 10PM, so I recommend going once during the day and once at night because Jagdish Temple truly comes to life under the stars.
Jagdish Temple has been running since the 17th century. It contains an idol of Jagannath, who is a form of the god Vishnu. The Hindu Pantheon is so complicated that it makes the Greek gods look like Leave it to Beaver. I think you could spend 1,000 years studying Hinduism and still not even understand half the nuances.
Just a few tips to keep in mind. It is a sacred place to Hindus, so be respectful. There is no picture taking allowed inside the temple, but taking photos of the exterior is totally fine. You will also have to remove your shoes once you get inside the temple, so if you’re one of those people who has a weird foot thing, be ready for that.
3) shop til you drop!
So many people love their travels in Udaipur. But of course that means so many shopkeepers love to hawk their wares to said travelers. When you walk down the streets in Udaipur, get ready to hear the shouts of merchants encouraging you to sample their goodies. (Not like that.) It’s all in good fun, and though some can use aggressive sales techniques, they are really harmless.
I recommend the store Sapna Saree Emporium, right on the City Palace Road if you are looking for a pashmina. They have cloths at every price point and level of softness. (I believe softness is measured in teddy bear tummies.) The clerk at Sapna Saree was clever because he gave me a cheaper pashmina to feel first and then a more expensive one right afterwards.
The more expensive pashmina was sooooo much softer. It was as soft as the fluffy dreams of a baby angel. In comparison, the cheap pashmina felt like being stabbed to death with a thousand tiny knives, just like Judi Dench stabs Maggie Smith in The Exotic Best Marigold Hotel. But I still haggled the price as low as I could.
You definitely need to bargain on the price in most stores in India. The clerks expect it, and it’s fun when you get used to it! I always started with half the price the clerk suggested and usually ended up paying about two thirds of the original price.
4) cafe edelweiss
At this point in your travels in Udaipur, you might be getting snacky. Why not get a sweet treat at Cafe Edelweiss? It has some of the best coffee you’ll taste in Udaipur, plus adorable pastries. I recommend the flaky-crusted date and walnut pie. It’s sweet, but in a natural way because a lot of the sweetness comes from the dates, not added sugar.
Plus the wifi here is good, although you might want to consider getting away from your phone a bit, Internet Stranger! We’re in Udaipur to get away from our 9 to 5 life! The one thing the Cafe Edelweiss doesn’t have is anyone singing showtunes from The Sound of Music, so they might want to look into that.
5) cruise on lake pichola
The number one thing you have to do during your travels in Udaipur is visit City Palace. But the second thing you have to do is take a boat ride on Lake Pichola. It seems like everyone and their mother offers a cruise on Lake Pichola, so you have to decide whether to share the boat ride with strangers or pony up for a private ride.
You can find the cheap ride right here next to Rainbow Restaurant. Just stop by the ticket office a couple of hours before you want to take your boat ride because they can fill up. But you should easily be able to get something because the boats run all day from 10-5.
Once you’re aboard the boat, sit back and enjoy the spectacle! If you’re a James Bond fan, you might recognize some of the buildings from Octopussy. (I personally only acknowledge the Connery and Craig Bond films. #neverdalton)
Don’t miss your chance to see the Lake Palace, one of the stars of Octopussy. It used to be an actual palace and is now one of the top luxury hotels in India. Everyone from Jackie Kennedy to the Shah of Iran has stayed here. I’ve never stayed here because I’m not literally made of money, but who wouldn’t want the round the clock butler service promised to every guest. (Note to self: marry a wealthy, elderly gentleman, wait for him to die, then book a room at the Lake Palace.)
24 Hours: Udaipur Itinerary
Evening: Cooking Class
You might be skeptical about taking a cooking class while on the road. After all, you’re on vacation! Why shouldn’t someone else do the work for you? But at Women’s Skill Handicraft and Cooking Classes, they will do most of the work for you! All you need to do is show up, do exactly what they say, and you’ll get to indulge in a vegetarian feast!
Because I was on the Intrepid tour, our guide Ronny arranged the tour for us. But you can email the shop directly and ask for a cooking lesson at [email protected] (Despite the name, one of the teachers was male, and men are welcome to take the class!)
Our teachers were excellent and truly made it look easy to prepare this delectable menu. Start with the treasure of every Indian kitchen: the masala (spice) box.
Prepare the masala chai with plenty of sugar, milk, and cardamom from that masala box.
Don’t be afraid to use lots of oil! Fat makes everything delicious.
Chop the carrots, not your fingers.
You can never have enough rice.
Let your teacher measure all the spices because you do not know what you’re doing.
It’s okay if sometimes the food catches fire.
And voila! Now you get to feast on potatoes, carrots, peas, okra, rice, lentils, raita, chapati. You did none of the work, yet you can take all the reward. It’s like the opposite of your day job!
That’s a Perfect Udaipur Itinerary!
What would you like to do during your Udaipur itinerary? Do you have any elderly gentlemen for me to marry? And how many murders are there in The Exotic Best Marigold Hotel? Please leave your thoughts below!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that just because this Udaipur itinerary is for 24 hours in Udaipur, that doesn’t mean you should only spend 24 hours in Udaipur.