The state of Rajasthan is the main state in a tourist circuit in India, especially when visiting India for the first time. Udaipur and Jodhpur are two of the main tourist destinations of Rajasthan. The descriptions of tourist guides, the packages of travel agencies and the testimonials that can be read here and there, suggest that it is absolutely necessary to visit these cities. Circuits in Rajasthan organized with Rajasthan Tours and Drivers include these two attractions and more.
Udaipur is one of the main cities of Rajasthan where tourists stop there in large numbers. The few things to visit are all grouped around Lake Pichola (the tourist area) as well as all amenities except buses and trains 4 km away! The city has more than 800 hotels, including 150 around the lake that accept tourists.
The city offers some beautiful buildings, small streets lined with old houses and the large Pichola Lake which allows you to take magnificent photos with color reflections on the water, especially with the sunset. There is also the possibility of taking a boat trip on the lake and visiting the Jag Mandir built on an island.
The city palace: it is a former fort which is now a palace offering various services: hotel, museum, gallery of crystal objects, a car collection, a boat trip on the lake, wedding reception venue… In short, everything is chargeable, even to walk in the garden which offers the best view of the lake. I just visited the large museum which, for a small price, allows you to admire various objects that belonged to maharajahs as well as magnificent paintings on canvas. Another thing that the museum allows: stroll through many rooms and corridors, allowing you to admire a little of the interior architecture of the buildings. I recommend this museum.
Otherwise, there is the possibility to climb a nearby hill to admire Udaipur from above for free. It is also a good plan to admire the sunset. The park, which serves as a zoo and fruit and vegetable crops, offers an ideal setting to rest amidst all the hustle and bustle of the city.
My impression: 2 days maximum are enough to visit everything. The relatively small tourist district is friendly, and so are the old houses. That said, there is not much architectural interest in the buildings, there is much better elsewhere.
Another must-see city in Rajasthan: Jodhpur (founded in 1453 by Rao Jodhaji) where the buildings are mainly made of red-pink stones, which gives it a special charm. It is an old fortified city of which there are still long pieces of ramparts. Accommodation is not a problem, everything is planned to accommodate the many tourists mainly in the old town, around the fort. Who says old town (a district now), says old buildings, and full of small streets invaded by shops. The downside: the incessant traffic of motorcycles and rickshaws. In short, you have to be very careful at all times so as not to have an accident.
The fort, located in the middle of the old town, offers a beautiful view of Jodhpur and… its blue houses. Rare thing: the fort still has its guns pointed at the city: in France it’s quite common to see them, in India it’s my first time!
The blue houses: one of the curiosities of Jodhpur, are the houses painted in blue which is the color of the gods and the dwellings of the Brahmins (Hindu priests). All are located in the old town; one end of the district is even nicknamed “blue city”. So after visiting the fort, I went for a walk in the small streets behind to discover these blue houses, where there are the most of them. Here, it’s quiet because very few tourists take the time to discover this area where it’s easy to get lost, unless you have a GPS. At the bend of a tiny street, I met young people returning from school, one of whom invited me to his house for a drink of chai, the essential drink in India. It’s the first time he’s seen a stranger passing in his street… So I’m quite happy to have a GPS on my smartphone, it allows me to go where no one goes.
The Padamasagar talab: it is a small body of water hidden at the end of a street between the district of blue houses and the back of the fort. And right next to it is an unlocked wooden gate from the fort rampart, which gives access to another body of water and a view of the back of the fort. The place is really hidden, I came across it by chance!
The Jaswant Thada (located next to the fort): it is a white marble cenotaph built in memory of Maharajah Jaswant Singh II. This place also contains 4 other small cenotaphs. A cenotaph is a funerary monument that does not contain a body, it is erected in memory of a person or a group of people and whose shape is reminiscent of a tomb (source Wikipedia). Let us not forget that the corpse of a Hindu is systematically burned. This is the first I’ve seen of it.
The Umaid Bawan palace: it is the former palace of Maharajah Umaid Singh II (1918-1947) built between 1929 and 1944. It is one of the largest in the world. Today it is still inhabited, except for a small part which serves as a museum, open to the public. The museum presents some objects of the former maharajah, and allows you to see a tiny piece inside the palace, which is a shame. To visit ? For the price of the entrance ticket (one hundred rupees), why not, on the other hand the palace is 3-4 kilometers from the old quarters.
The Mandore garden: located 10 km north of Jodhpur, in Mandore, it is a large, very well maintained garden where you can visit ancient Hindu temples as well as the ruins of an ancient fort. Ideal place to rest in peace.
My impression: I like this city which is much prettier than Udaipur. Here too, all the amenities for tourists are grouped together in the same place in the old quarters. What is annoying is the traffic and the fact that the streets are congested, which does not make it possible to appreciate things well; except if you go to the district of blue houses. I found the architecture of the old houses more beautiful than in Udaipur.