Inspired by the BBC’s second series of the “Real Marigold Hotel” that follows 9 celebrities as they spend several weeks in Udaipur in India. We’ve chosen some “things to do in Udaipur” for you.
A city in the western state of Rajasthan and founded by Maharana Udai Singh II in 1559. Referred to as the “most romantic spot on the continent of India” by the British Administrator James Tod, it is also known as the “City of Lakes” and the one I love the most “The Venice of the East”. This is because of the sophisticated lake system that dominates the area and supplies water for drinking and the rural agriculture.
Construction started in 1553 by Maharana Udai Singh II but has been extended many times over the years and is situated in a commanding position overlooking Lake Pichola with views to the Aravali mountain Range.
The name City Palace is a bit misleading as it more of a complex of Palaces with a further 11 small separate palaces interlinked by a number of chowks (quadrangles) with zigzag corridors. Entry into the complex is via the main Tripolia (triple) gate into Suraj Gokhda, ), the Mor-chowk (Peacock courtyard), the Dilkhush Mahal (heart’s delight), the Surya Chopar, the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of glass and mirrors), the Moti Mahal (Palace of Pearls), the Krishna Vilas (named after Lord Krishna), Shambu Niwas (royal residence now), the Bhim Vilas (miniature painings), the Amar Vilas (with a raised garden) that faces the Badi Mahal (the big palace), the Fateprakash Palace and the Shiv Niwas Palace; the last two have been converted into heritage hotels.
The City Palace complex needs a full day to get around. I would also advise that you join a local tour guide so that you get to see and hear all about its history and significance.
This view of the lake shows one of the islands which is home to the Lake Palace. This is now an exclusive heritage hotel for those with deep pockets.
Take a boat trip around the lake and see, where the lake narrows, the ornamental arch bridges. Hence the name “The Venice of the East”.
Some of the views of Udaipur may seem familiar, as it was one of the locations filmed in the 1983 James Bond movie Octopussy. Also filmed were Shiv Nivas Palace and Monsoon Palace.
Part of the Lake complex of Udaipur with three small islands. The largest is Nehru Park which is a popular tourist attraction. Another island has a public park with an impressive water-jet fountain and the last island in home to the Udaipur Solar Observatory. This site has an ideal location, getting accurate and quality observations of the sun.
This is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and a great way to cool down by the lake.
Overlooking Fateh Sagar Lake is the Monsoon Palace also known as Sajjan Garh Palace. Because of its commanding elevated location in the Aravali Hills, this is a great place to view the beautiful Sunsets.
The name Monsoon Palace comes from its use as a lookout post for the monsoon clouds. It was also used as a hunting lodge by the Maharana Fateh Singh.
Built from White marble this former Palace is now controlled by the the Government of Rajasthan and forms part of the Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Jagdish Temple is in the middle of Udaipur, just outside the Royal Palace, and is has been a place of worship since 1651.
To reach the temple you have to climb the 32 marble steps. The temple is steeped with Hindu Iconography with brass images of Garuda and God Vishnu and God Krishna.
When visiting Temples remember to cover up and allows view the site in a clockwise direction. This is believed to bring good luck.
These beautiful gardens are located on the banks of Fateh Sagar Lake and translate as the “Garden of the Maidens”. The Gardens were built by Maharana Sangram Singh as wedding gift to his bride and the 48 maidens in her dowry.
The Gardens have lotus pools, marble pavilions and elephant shaped fountains offering a green retreat from the dry lands of Rajasthen.
Moti Magri (Pearl Hill) overlooks Fateh Sagar Lake and is the location of the memorial to Maharana Pratap astride his horse “Chetak”.
The memorial commemorates the Battle of Haldighati which brought back Hindu honour against the Muslim Mughals. It is not known whether “Chetak” was at the battle, but the story is told in many poems from seventeenth century.
The temple is located some 2 Km from the city centre and is believed to be over 350 years old. At the centre of the temple is an east facing idol of Lord Ganesha in a dancing pose.
It is believed by devotees with real trust in Bohra Ganesh will get their wishes fulfilled.
Haveli is word you come across often and means a traditional townhouse or mansion, derived from an Arabic word “Hawali” meaning “private space” usually with a central courtyard.
Bagore Ki Haveli has over a hundred rooms with displays of modern art and costumes. It is now a museum.
This is great place to visit to see around all the rooms and to watch typical Indian folk dancers.
Shilpgram is located 3 km west of the Udaipur. It is a cultural centre spread over 70 acres surrounded by the Aravali hills with live shows and festivals. The idea is to showcase everyday skills still in use as a realistic glimpse of the people of the region and their belongings.
The Shilpgram festival takes place every year from 21st to 31st December.
With stunning views of Jagdish Temple, Gangaur Ghat, City Palace, Jag Mandir and Sajjangarh Fort this is an ideal location by day or night to enjoy the views and sample their tantalizing food.
Booking maybe required.
A new authentic Mexican restaurant and Barbecue restaurant just on the shores of lake Pichola.
The new lakeside garden is serving up the same barbecue as you came to love from Charcoal together with many other grilled delicacies . However, the big new thing is our authentic Mexican food with locally grown ingredients and imported Mexican chillies.
A bit weird suggesting a Mexican Restaurant, but it gives you a change from spicy curry to spicy Mexican. They are also winners of a TripAdvisor certificate of excellence.
A traveller’s tale: Kerala
Nothing quite prepares you for the spectacular scenery you will find when you visit Kerala, India’s serene and stunning South Indian state. If you’ve never visited India before, Kerala offers a laid-back, gentle introduction – this beautiful, tropical region is a world away from the chaotic northern cities. Kerala is growing in popularity as a honeymoon destination, due to the breathtakingly beautiful Arabian Sea coastline, glittering backwaters and tropical landscapes. Surrounded by green hills bursting with tea and spice plantations, Kerala is truly the jewel of India. As Kerala Tourism state “God’s own Country”
Although you can fly to Cochin International Airport in the northern part of Kerala, our adventure began in the south, so we flew from the UK into Trivandrum International Airport. Did you know that Kerala is the most literate state in India? In 2016, it became the first Indian state to achieve 100% in primary education. Plus, it is very clean too – technically, you can drink the tap water, but as water quality varies in most countries, we recommend sticking to bottled water to avoid any ‘tummy issues’ during your holiday!
Our first stop was Varkala; a gentle, hippy-like resort perched on a cliff-edge looking down onto a wonderful beach. Staying in beautifully furnished bamboo beach huts, we spent the first few days relaxing and enjoying walks down to the shoreline. We also experienced a traditional
Ayurvedic oil massage – perfect for kneading out those tight muscles, knots, and stiff backs, especially after a long-haul flight. Every night we enjoyed a tantalising dinner consisting of freshly caught fish, along with a variety of tasty vegetables and rice. During our stay, we also watched a traditional dance performance called Kathakali. Dressed in colourful, elaborate costumes and make-up, the actor-dancers perform a classical story, which some historians claim dates back to more than 500 years old.
If there’s one thing you must do when you visit Kerala, it’s to experience the beauty of the backwaters on a houseboat. From Varkala, we booked a transfer up to Alleppey to board our very own houseboat and embark on the next leg of our adventure. Traditionally made of wooden planks held together by coconut fibre, the roof of the houseboat is made of palm leaves tied to bamboo planks. The result is an intricately woven floating wicker basket, complete with your own bedroom below and upstairs sitting area. However, if you’re anything like us, you will take pride of place sitting on the open top deck as the boat gently glides along picturesque waterways, lagoons and lakes lined with tropical plan trees and rich jungle foliage.
This was a truly unforgettable experience. When you reach the larger open waters, you will see ancient Chinese fishing nets still in use to catch the numerous varieties of fish you can try at local restaurants.
On the houseboat, you will be served freshly made Keralan meals, usually on a large banana leaf. In our opinion (and many others too!), Keralan food is by far the most delicious Indian food you will ever taste. It is less rich and heavy than Northern Indian food (which is usually what you will eat in a standard UK Indian restaurant). In many ways, there are more similarities to South Asian food, due to the use of ginger and coconut, which results in a much lighter and fragrant style of cooking. Typically, you will be served a variety of different vegetable, fish and rice dishes, accompanied by colourful chutneys, along with small rice pancakes called uttapams and small semolina cakes called idlis.
Wherever you are in Kerala, you must try a masala dosa! A spicy potato and onion mix is rolled in a giant, paper-thin rice and lentil pancake, and is served with a hot thin soup called ‘sambar’, a red chilli-onion chutney and a delicious coconut chutney. The masala dosa is the ultimate flavour sensation – once you’ve tasted your first dosa, you will be going back for more!
Our houseboat tour took us to Fort Kochi; a wonderful mix of crumbling colonial Portuguese architecture intertwined with Indian culture. We visited a spice factory located in a 400-year-old building, where vast amounts of fresh ginger lay drying in the sun outside. We took the opportunity of buying a spice pack to bring home with us, so we could attempt (and fail!) to cook some of the incredible dishes we tasted during our stay.
Our last destination took us right back to where we started. Near to Trivandrum International Airport is a delightful beach resort called Kovalam, where we witnessed some of the most stunning sunsets we have ever seen, anywhere in the world. The area is tiny, but full of superb cafes and restaurants serving Indian and International dishes, as well as lovely shops and stalls for souvenirs. We bought a beautiful hand-painted Indian landscape to bring back with us. There are also numerous high-quality hotels and resorts dotted along the coastline – accommodation is available to suit every budget. Asides from lazing on the beach in the sun, where we ate giant fruit and coconut salads for lunch each day, we also took a couple of yoga classes before we headed back to the UK. Indians are serious about their yoga, so make sure you explain any physical limitations before taking a class!
All in all, despite our travels across the globe, Kerala still firmly remains as one of the best holidays we have ever experienced – we will definitely be visiting this location again in the future.
If you would like to see Kerala for yourself, or you would like to experience another part of India, please call Not Just Travel on 01455 240522. We will tailor your trip to meet your needs, whether you’re planning a holiday, honeymoon, or an off-the-beaten-track adventure.
India’s Golden Triangle is a famous route for travellers who want to experience the ‘real India’. A typical journey would start in Delhi, travelling to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, and then onto Jaipur in the majestic state of Rajasthan. However, there are so many other places to add to this route. When I travelled around this incredible area of India with a close friend, we continued across Rajasthan and this is the first part of our experience…
When you arrive in Delhi, prepare for a sensory overload of sight, sound and smell. In this city, you will see every aspect of human life, from the very poor to the very rich, and you need to be prepared for this.
However, there is nothing more exciting than wandering through the busy, colourful marketplaces – visit Chandni Chowk, a market which has been running since the 17th century. You can literally find anything in an Indian market – from fabrics to phones, so if you’re away for a long duration, you can easily stock up in Delhi.
There some famous landmarks, which are worth a visit including The Red Fort near to Chandni Chowk. We took a taxi over to Connaught Place, which boasts interesting architecture, such as India Gate, and lots of restaurants to choose from. The National Museum is nearby, and we took an evening stroll around the Rajpath area, which has fantastic views across to India Gate. And don’t forget to visit a few of the magnificent temples dotted around the city – there are numerous places to choose from, I cannot even begin to list these!
From Delhi, our next destination was Agra in the state of Uttar Pradesh; the location of the Taj Mahal. To travel across India, we utilised all manner of transport – trains, planes and automobiles! And you must travel by rickshaw at least once during your travels, an unforgettable experience – you will whizz through local streets, eye to eye with daily life. Flying across India is getting cheaper and cheaper, but don’t rule out the trains, which are improving, and there are First Class cabins available if you want some privacy. Nothing is more enlightening than watching the real India from a train or car window, so make sure you add a few overland trips to your itinerary. If you’re looking for luxury, there’s now a 5-star rail tour, which covers the Golden Triangle. Plus, hiring a driver is very common and affordable, and will enable you to go to locations not accessible by train or plane.
Nothing prepares you for the magnificent Taj Mahal. It is incredibly beautiful and greatly exceeded our expectations. It is advisable to visit before 9am, as the slabs surrounding the ivory-white marble mausoleum will be too hot to walk on during the warmer months. When you arrive at the Taj Mahal, a good tip is to keep your head down, unless you want to be bothered by ‘guides’ and street sellers – ‘hawkers’. Any eye contact may result in a lengthy bargaining process – unless you want to buy a souvenir, of course! The Taj Mahal is known to change colour depending on the daylight, so we took a rickshaw over to the back of the mausoleum (behind the river). Bathed in a stunning rose-pink, the evening sunlight tinted the marble of the Taj Mahal, creating fantastic photo opportunities.
From Agra, we travelled to Jaipur, a wonderful city full of ancient Indian architecture. Lying at the heart of Rajasthan, this area has traditional cultural identities, which have lasted for thousands of years.
A ‘must visit’ in Jaipur is Hawa Mahal – the famous Palace of the Winds – which boasts a high screen wall featuring the famous ‘jali’ work (intricate carved patterns and holes in stone). The purpose of the screen was to enable women of the royal household to sit privately and observe the street festivals taking place in the streets below. Another ‘must visit’ is the City Palace, which includes the Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal palaces, as well as the nearby Jantar Mantar monument – an eccentric collection of architectural astronomical instruments. One evening, we visited the famous Indian cinema, Raj Mandir, to see a highly entertaining Bollywood Bond film. When you watch a film in India, everyone in the audience gets involved, cheering as the hero saves the day!
Whilst you’re in Rajasthan, if you’re lucky enough, you may just catch a glimpse of men wearing traditional styles, such as hooped earrings, shoes with curled toes, curly moustaches and colourful turbans. Plus, you are likely to see women wearing beautiful traditional saris, endless bangles and possibly sporting large nose hoops.
Our next destination was Jodhpur (yes, famous for those jockey trousers!). This ancient city has been used in numerous films across the decades due to the famous blue and white square buildings dotted across the landscape. Personally, I thought Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur was the most impressive fort I have seen in India, largely due to the fantastic views and the impressive portcullis as you enter the inner areas.
If you’d like to experience India’s Golden Triangle, please call Not Just Travel on 01455 240522 – we would love to help you with your trip.
More than just a beach destination, sprawling Goa is also attracting wellness tourists, wildlife enthusiasts, culture seekers enthralled by the melange of Portuguese and Indian architecture and lovers of its spicy regional cuisine.
“Goa is a gentle and rewarding introduction to India. It is the country’s smallest state – from the stunning beaches and dense jungle to the striking Hindu temples and dramatic churches, nothing is too far”
KATIE BUSHNELL, PRODUCT MANAGER, THE GOA EXPERIENCE
Rumble in the Jungle
Take a jeep safari in Mollem National Park, in the Western Ghats, where Nilgiri blue robins flit among foliage and sloth bears roam
The night market at Arpora is a great place to pick up souvenirs, including silver jewellery and block printed fabric. Reluctant shoppers can sip cocktails and listen to live music
Colourful facades in Panjim’s Fountainhas quarter and the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception’s white staircases count among urban scenery popular with photographers
With 63 miles of coastline Goa is home to several of India’s best beaches. The sandy shores at Agonda, Palolem, Mandrem, Arambol, Varca, Benaulim and Cavelossim feature in Trip Advisor’s Top 10
Take to the water
Try activities on water, from banana boat rides to parasailing, off the Goan coastline
Goan cuisine is a delicious blend of Portuguese and Indian influences. In the UK vindaloos are renowned for their fieriness but the original is far tastier, featuring meat marinaded in vinegar and garlic
See the ‘Sea of Milk’
That’s how the name of the Dudhsagar Falls translates into English. The waterfalls, in the Western Ghats, are a popular excursion and are at their most spectacular after the monsoon rains
Glide along the River Siolim on a houseboat and see the sun setting beneath the palm trees. Overnighting on one of the boats means opportunities to view fishing villages and landmarks such as Chapora Fort, a legacy of Portuguese colonialism
Spend a day visiting the churches and convents, including the impressive Se Cathedral and Basilica of Bom Jesus, at Old Goa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Dotted with colonial properties with easy access to beaches, Goa makes for a cosy getaway. Summertime, a luxury hilltop villa, was named Asia’s most romantic retreat at the 2016 Boutique Hotel Awards
Goa – Getting There
Goa – Deals
With seven-night offers including international flights, transfers and breakfast staying at the 3* Colonia Santa Maria hotel in North Goa from £ 699 pp, it really can be affordable.
Would you like to tour Goa? We can explore a range of itineraries with you – Call Destinasia from Not Just Travel on 01455 240522 for more information.