Udaipur -- the City of Lakes, has a lot more to it than its picturesque lakes. Plan your New Year vacation to see the lush Girwa Valley, Aravalli ranges, stunning royal palaces, forts, temples and gardens that add to the kaleidoscope of this city. Situated in Rajasthan, its rich history and culture is linked to the royal Rajput rulers, The Sisodias of Mewar, one of the world's oldest surviving dynasties. A hot tourist destination for its landscape and pleasant weather, Udaipur is also home to many hotels. We were invited for a two-day stay at The Oberoi Udaivilas, situated along Lake Pichola.
A boat ride is recommended to this centrally located luxury hotel that'll make your stay in the city unforgettable.
Full of stalls, the city's narrow lanes are where you'd spot the real Rajasthan. Smiling faces, friendly greetings, two-wheelers and tuk-tuks (autos) flood the colourful markets. The bazaar near the City Palace is the place for antiques, puppets, terracotta, miniature paintings, silver and ethnic jewellery -- all that the city is famous for. You'd find knick-knacks priced as cheap as Rs 50 to prices running in lakhs here. Also, visit the Spice Market, and Hathipol market for the city's handicrafts and traditional arts, and try local food specialities such as Dal-baati, Choorma and Dil jani.
This small city has many palatial structures. Situated by the famous Lake Pichola, is the splendid City Palace that boasts of a series of courtyards, corridors and gardens. The Crystal Gallery nearby has a rare collection of crystals on display. It even has chairs, dressing tables and a bed made of crystal.
Many may not know that the Jag Mandir palace here, had inspired Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to build the Taj Mahal. Standing tall in the city is the Jagdish Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It has an imposing 79-feet-high pagoda. Another attraction in Udaipur is the fountain garden, Sahelion Ki Bari, that boasts of fountains that still work on the unique hydraulic system devised in 1700.
Considered one of the most romantic cities of world, Udaipur is also known as the Venice of East, and is a hit among couples and celebrities to hold marriage ceremonies and parties. It was a backdrop for many movies, including the James Bond flick, Octopussy.
The hotels in the city too, offer an array of interesting activities. Lake cruises in a Shikara, camel rides, heena, culinary and miniature painting demonstrations, relaxing spa treatments, a tour of their wildlife conservatory, and a walk to the historical buildings located within the hotel, are some of the activities offered by The Udaivilas.
How to reach: Udaipur (663 kms from Delhi) is well connected through air, rail and road.
Where to stay: The Oberoi Udaivilas, ranked as the best hotel in Asia and fifth in the World by readers of Travel + Leisure, USA in 2011. A current offer enables a two-night stay at R62,000 for double occupancy. It includes accommodation in a premier room, transfer from the local city airport or railway station and back, breakfast, plus 15% saving on spa therapies, among others. Valid till March 31 (except between Dec 20 and Jan 5) Log on to: www.oberoihotels.com for more details.
Other places to visit: Sajjan Garh, Fatehsagar Lake and Shilpgram. Or plan an excursion to Sri Eklingji, Haldighati, Kumbhalgarh Fort, Chittor Fort and Mount Abu.