December-January is unarguably one of the best times to travel across India. Especially places which are extremely hot during the summers – like Kerala, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, etc. Since we had been to Kerala recently & with Rajasthan yet unexplored we zeroed in on Rajasthan as the destination for our next travel. It did help that we could make use of the extended Republic Day weekend. With these thoughts in mind we booked our flight & hotel rooms for our Rajasthan Trip. We researched extensively on TripAdvisor.com. We got a good deal on MakeMyTrip.com for both the flights as well as two out of the three hotel rooms. Our hotel in Udaipur was booked via TripAdvisor & Booking.com. We read posts on a travel forums & some blogs to prepare our itinerary.
Day 1: Mumbai – Jaipur
Our Air India flight from Mumbai to Jaipur, was scheduled at 11.30AM. We booked an uber to ferry us to the T2 International Airport. We reached early & enjoyed our short visit to The Lounge at the airport. The flight departed on time & there was no turbulence whatsoever. The meal served consisted of rice, curry, vegetable salad & fruit juice. The food was decent.. We weren’t given a choice to choose between vegetarian & non-vegetarian!The flight landed on time. While the weather at Mumbai was pleasant, Jaipur seemed pretty cold. The jacket I carried came handy. While the Jaipur airport looks good, it is pretty small. It has only one functional conveyor belt for the luggage. Thanks to Jaipur Lit fest commencing the next day, a apcked flight from New Delhi landed at the same time. Hence the airport was crowded & it took quite a while to get our luggage.
We had booked a cab online through Auto Riders for 4 days for INR 12000. Our driver Laxman was waiting for us at the airport by the time we landed. We requested him to drop us at our hotel – Umaid Haveli at Kukkas. We had booked our hotel via tripadvisor & booking.com for INR 4883. It was an hour away from the airport. Our hotel was close to Le Meridien. The drive was pleasant. The roads of Jaipur are decent. We were anxious to check the rooms of the hotel.
Luckily for us Umaid Haveli looks just as beautiful as it does on travel portals. We doubt whether it was a palace & think it was built to resemble one.The rooms are well maintained & look clean. The bathrooms were spotless. The wooden double bed in the middle of the room gave it an exotic look. The art work on the roof reimposes the fact that you are in the Pink City – the city of palaces. Post leaving our luggage in our hotel rooms, we headed to the restaurant at the ground floor of the hotel. We ordered some Gatta Masala & Butter Roti. We were told by the staff not to order Butter Naan, while ordering Gatta Masala – a Rajasthani speciality. But to order roti instead. The food was good & arrived on time.
We left our hotel by 3.30PM & reached our first sightseeing destination – Amer Fort in 15 mins. We took the services of a tourist guide – Mr. Rathore. He was recommended to us by our driver, Laxman. We were told that we would have to pay INR 200 for his services. We thought it was reasonable. We picked Mr. Rathore on the way to Amer fort.
We had to pay INR 100 as entry fees for the palace. The palace does look beautiful from outside. There were several musicians playing outside the palace. Since it was a long weekend, there were quite a few people at the palace. Although it wasn’t too crowded & we did not have to wait in a long queue as such. The palace is vast & beautiful. Sheesh Mahal & the gardens were the best parts of the fort. Our guide was well informed & was worth the money. We were done in an hours time. The fort does have a lot of history in it. We were surprised by the presence of Mughal architecture & influence in the fort. We were told its thanks to the close ties between the Rajputs & the Mughals since the time of emperor Akbar. We did have a good time at the fort.
Post exploring the Amer Fort – known to be the most popular destination in Jaipur, we were taken to a government approved handicrafts, garments & jewellery store.
Post our visit to the store, we went to Jal Mahal. Jal Mahal – Water Palace, is a palace built on water. The Kings used to stay at Jal Mahal, during the hot summers. It is inaccessible for visitors, but makes for a good selfie spot. The promenade around Jal Mahal,is home to several souvenir shops & street food vendors. There are people who lend you Rajasthani attire, ofcourse for a fee. Post taking some photos & shopping for souvenirs, we asked our driver – Laxman to pick us up.
Our next stop was Hawa Mahal. While Hawa Mahal was shut by the time we reached there, our main intention was to check the shopping scene near Hawa Mahal. We were quite hungry by the time we reached Hawa Mahal. We were informed by our driver to try the Rajasthani fare at Balaji or Kailash. Balaji had only male patrons, while Kailash had several families seated inside. We chose to dine at Kailash. Both are barely a few metres away from each other.
Kailash is a moderately clean hotel. Please don’t go to the hotel expecting a plush, clean hotel. The plates & seats were okay. We decided to play it safe & ordered mineral water. We ordered for the Rajasthani Thali. The thali was priced at INR 280. We were eager to feast on the famed Dal Bhati Churma. The thali arrived in 10 mins. The dal bhati churma was good. We were served papad, boondi raita & rice along with it. Frankly, we did not think it was worth INR 280!
Post lunch, the wife decided to explore the various garments stores around Hawa Mahal. Post an hour of shopping, we went back to the hotel by 9.30PM.
Since we had had a hectic day, we dozed off as soon as we hit the sheets by 10.30PM.
Day 2: Jaipur – Ajmer
Post waking up, we headed to the restaurant for breakfast at around 8.30AM. There were several vegetarian dishes to choose from. We chose to go with some poha, pakoda, wada sambhar & fruit salad. There were a few more indian dishes & continental breakfast options like cereals, eggs & toast to choose from. The fruit juices were okay. We were a bit disappointed with the lack of non-vegetarian dishes.
Post breakfast we headed back to our room to get ready & pack our bags. Hot water was readily available. It was fun bathing in the hot water, in the cold weather of Jaipur. The shampoo we used turned out to be of good quality. Apart from the shampoo, moisturizer, shower gel, dental kit & shaving kit were also provided by the hotel. Considering that we paid INR 4888 per day, it was money well spent. The towels were clean & soft. We faced no issues whatsoever & the manager was very courteous.
We checked out of our hotel at around 10.45AM & headed to City Palace. We paid INR 130 per head as entry charges. The City Palace is very beautiful & is just as vast as the Amer Fort. There is a lot of history in that place. The durbar of the maharaja is the most interesting part of the palace. The second most interesting section is the weapons gallery. We were done exploring The City Palace in two hours time.
After spending two hours roaming around the palace we were famished. We went to Hotel Parampara for lunch. It is 10 mins away from the Palace. It is good restaurant for families. It does attract it’s share of foreign tourists, since it one of the few hotels with non-vegetarian options. We ordered some Khumbh Mutter & Butter Naan for the main course & sweet corn soup. The butter milk we ordered to go with the main course was decent. Our lunch cost us INR 1500 approx.
Post lunch we headed to Jantar Mantar. We spent an hour close to an hour at Jantar Mantar. We then headed to Hawa Mahal. Unfortunately for us Hawa Mahal was closed for the day, due to Republic Day activities. We loved the street side tea around Hawa Mahal for INR 5, which was served in paper cups. We chose to skip Jaigarh Fort, as we were told it has nothing apart from two cannons which are placed atop the fort & make for a good photo op.
We left for Ajmer by 5PM. We could have stayed for another day at Umaid Haveli, but planned to stay the night at Ajmer as it would cut our travel time to Udaipur, by a few hours. We reached our Hotel – The Royal Melange Beacon by 8.30PM. Post checking our baggage, we went to the restaurant for our dinner buffet. The food was decent, but again there were no non-vegetarian dishes. The vegetarian dishes were decent. The weather outside was very pleasant.
Day 3: Ajmer – Udaipur
Post our breakfast, which consisted of coffee, poha, upma & some fruit juice we headed to famed Ajmer Dargah. Our hotel receptionist informed us that they have arranged for a complimentary guide service. The guide nudged us to hire a rickshaw for our journey from the gate to the main entrance, but we refused as we had a car to ferry us. We were informed that the rickshaw charges will be INR 200. As it turned out, rickshaw drivers who aggressively chased us quoted INR 150 for the ride! Post dropping us off, our driver parked the car at a spot nearby.
We decided to hire a cycle rickshaw for INR 50 to ferry us from Delhi gate to the main entrance of the dargah. Actually, it is just a 10 min walk, but the dingy lanes & hordes of people crowding the lane give you the illusion that the main entrance is a mile away. I would suggest walking it out & not opting for any rickshaw. There are several shops on the way, which sell the customary head scarf & “chaddar”. Enterprising sellers keep hawking their wares. Our guide met us at the entrance. We were taken to an imam, who we were told will take us to the dargah. We paid him INR 250 as a donation. We were then taken to the dargah by his assistant. The dargah was crowded. But thanks to our hotel & the guide, we were done with our darshan in 10 mins. We walked backed to Delhi gate & walked up to our car. I would not suggest foreigners to visit this place.
Post packing our bags, we headed to Udaipur at around 11.30AM. We stopped for lunch at restaurant on the highway, which served us some good traditional north indian food. The drive to Udaipur went off without any hiccup. The roads are well maintained & were very smooth. We relied us some Prime Video shows downloaded on our mobile to keep us entertained throughout our journey. We stopped for some tea at a roadside stall.
We reached Udaipur by around 5PM & reached our hotel – Boheda Palace by 5.30PM. While the lane leading to our hotel made us wonder whether we made a mistake, we were happy with our decision once we reached our hotel. Boheda Palace was an actual palace in its heyday. Unlike Umaid Haveli, which is a modern hotel built to resemble a palace, Boheda is an authentic one. Photographs which adorn the walls of the hotel speak about the history of the family which owns it. Our room was on the 2nd floor. The rooms have marble flooring & Rajputana style designs on its wall roof. The only complaint was that there were no lifts in the hotel. The hotel manager Mr. Ajay was very courteous & helpful. The INR 3000 charge per hotel room seemed to be very reasonable for a hotel of its calibre.
We left our hotel by 6PM & headed to The City Palace for the “Sound & Light Show”. We fell in love with palace AT first sight. It is one magnificent structure. It looks way more beautiful than the Jaipur Palace. We paid INR 500 for the tickets. The INR 200 tickets were sold out by the time we reached the venue. The Sound & Light Show at the Udaipur City Palace is one of the best managed ones in the country. It was thoroughly entertaining & worth our money. It covered 1500 years of The House Of Mewar. We were done with the show by 8PM. We then tried to look for good restaurants nearby on zomato, but couldn’t decide. We then asked our driver – Laxman for advice.
Laxman suggested Rajwada Hotel at Chetak Circle. We decided to not rack our brains any further & blindly trust Laxman. We were relieved to find out that Rajwada was an amazing hotel. The hotel boasts of live folk performances. The hotel has an open area, where the performances were taking place, or one can choose to be seated inside a room from where the performances are visible. Since the open area was filled to its capacity & we did not want to sit inside we decided to wait for a table to get empty. Luckily for us, a table was vacated within 10 minutes. We ordered a Veg Combo Thali & a Laal Maas (Rajasthan style Mutton Curry) Thali. Both the thalis were excellent. The manager – Mr. Vikram spoke to us & made us feel comfortable. Since non-vegetarian fare is not easily available across Udaipur, Rajwada was a pleasant surprise. We loved having the mutton curry with the bati. The ambience, the food, the performances & the courteous manager made the visit memorable. We left from Rajwada by 9.30PM & reached our hotel by 10PM. The pleasant weather tempted us to venture out for a night stroll. The bylanes around Boheda Palace are safe for an evening/late night stroll. Post walking for 15-20 we retired back to our hotel rooms & called it a day.
Day 4: Udaipur
It was our last day in Rajasthan & our holiday. We were in no mood to wake up early. We got up at around 8.30AM & got ready by 9.30AM. We then headed to the terrace for our breakfast. Boheda doesn’t have a buffet system for breakfast. The waiter will hand over the menu & mention the breakfast items which are complimentary. We ordered some poha, cheese omlettes, chocolate pancakes, orange juice, aloo parathas & coffee. Each & everything brought to our table was delicious. The cheese omlettes & chocolate pancakes deserve special mention.
We left our hotel by 10.30AM. We first headed to Fateh Lake for a boat ride. We paid INR 100 per head. It was an average experience. Nothing worth remembering. We were done in 15-20 mins time. Post which, we headed to Karni Mata Temple. The best thing about going to the temple is that one has to reach there by via a ropeway cable car ride.. The ropeway cable car ride gives an aerial way of Udaipur. After reaching the other end of the rope way, we headed to the terrace. The terrace gave us a panoramic view of Udaipur. All the major tourist attractions are visible from this point. We then walked further & went to Karni Mata Temple. After spending 5 mins we headed back towards the cable car ropeway.
Post reaching the starting point of the ropeway & heading out we got into our car. We then went to Bawarchi Restaurant for lunch. We ordered some Kaju Curry, butter roti, dal fry, steamed rice & curds. It cost us approx INR 1400.
Post lunch we headed to The City Palace & purchased tickets for the museum for INR 300 per head. We hired the services of a guide for INR 250. The fees for the guide is fixed at INR 250 for indian languages. The tour was very good. It took us close to an hour to view the entire palace. We then headed out of the palace & had some masala tea by the street side for INR 10.
We then headed back to our hotel. We settled our dues with Laxman & relieved him. We had planned to utilize his services only for 4 out of the 5 days we were travelling in Rajasthan. We had covered all the major tourist attraction by this point. Credit must be given to Auto Riders & Laxman for the excellent service provided by them.
After our afternoon siesta, we headed to our hotel’s terrace restaurant for some tea & hot pakodas. The rooftop restaurant of Boheda Palace is easily one of the best venues in Udaipur to have your evening cuppa tea. After snacking & drinking some well made tea, we headed to a nearby park for a stroll. The park is situated bang opposite the Vintage Car Museum. The museum is home to several vintage cars owned by the erstwhile Maharana of Udaipur. But since we aren’t vintage car aficionados we decided to give it a miss & headed to the park. The park is a huge one & even has a toy train. After walking around the park for 15-20 mins, we headed back to our hotel rooms.
We then headed to the terrace for dinner. We ordered chicken sweet corn soup, dal fry, masala papad & some steamed rice. While the rest of the food was good, we were a tad disappointed with the sweet corn chicken soup. It was too watery for our taste. The view of the City Palace from the rooftop restaurant is breathtakingly beautiful.. Since it was our last night in Rajasthan we decided to go to sleep early.
Day 5: Udaipur – Mumbai
We got up early, packed our bags & headed to the rooftop restaurant for our last breakfast meal at the hotel. We ordered the tried & tested cheese omelette, chocolate pancakes, poha, aloo paratha, orange juice & coffee. As expected, all items were excellent.
We then called for an uber to drop us off at the airport for our flight. Our Indigo flight was scheduled to depart at 10AM. We were informed at 9AM, that our flight has been delayed by 30 mins due to bad weather. We were then informed at 9.30 AM that our flight has been delayed by an hour. But we finally were told that it was delayed by over 2 hours. Post the excruciatingly long wait our flight finally took off at 12.10PM & landed at Mumbai Airport at around 1.15PM. There was a lot of rush at the baggage conveyor belt. It is safe to say that our experience with Indigo was not a pleasant one.
Overall our trip to Rajasthan was a very memorable one thanks largely to very courteous & professional cab drivers, restaurant, hotel managers. Not a single waiter/manager/driver we met was rude or disrespectful in any way. The people of Rajasthan certainly do know how to respect their guests. We did wish that we could cover Jaisalmer – renowned for their folk dancers, sand dunes, camel rides etc. We do hope to cover it sometime soon. We would definitely recommend Rajasthan to all travelers.