Known as the "Venice of the East" and "City of the Lakes," Udaipur is a magical town of ancient buildings surrounding several artificial lakes. From the boat trips to the bike rides, you'll find one stunning sight after the next. The old grandeur of the city sets a backdrop to the usual bustling that characterises daily Indian life.
With buildings cluttered together, the true views in Udaipur are on the rooftops. Many lakeside havelis (heritage hotels) will have large rooftops that are empty in the mornings. Get a workout or yoga session in and catch the sunrise. I highly recommend staying at Karohi Haveli. Try this mini workout of mine on the rooftops or if you prefer here is one that can be done indoors.
Much of Udaipur's natural beauty, you'll only discover after leaving the city center. Join Art of Bicycle for a three hour bike excursion around five lakes and the countryside. Luckily, the tour also doubles as your daily workout with intense hills to climb and rugged dirt paths to conquer. Along with spotting the main tourist sights, you'll stop for chai with the locals and visit one of the most gorgeous outdoor sights for Bollywood filming. Those with longer stays can do the multi-day cycle tour.
Two hours from Udaipur is the picturesue village of Narlai. Surrounded by jain and hindu temples, you'll get a taste of local life without the usual tourist crowds. You can arrange for a taxi to take you through the your haveli/hotel. Negotiate the rate beforehand. Drivers will offer to stay with you for the day for an hourly rate or you can opt to indulge and stay at the lovely Fort Rawla.
Famous in Narlai, is giant Elephant Hill. Scale X steps in a near vertical ascent to reach the top. If you reach the top before sunset, pay a small tip to the local guide there and you'll have the opportunity to sip on a hot chai as the sun goes down. This was one of the most relaxing and rewarding parts of the trip!
This is more flexible for men but women should dress conservatively. I'm not a fan of this but it is in respect to the local culture and will save you loads of comments and stares. On more casual days, I did jeans with short-sleeved shirts or leggings with a long shirt/sweater that covered my hips. I was also careful about what I worked out in if doing an outdoors workout. For more formal activities or dress up, I did a short sleeved dress that reached to the knees and a scarf to cover up the neckline.
The heat can become unbearable in India. As such, it's best to travel during the more moderate times of the year - especially if you're a women since you'll need to layer up clothing. Try January through March for the North and November - March in the South. After April, it becomes too hot and monsoon season is July to September. We did early February for both regions and it was perfect.
Most activities, food, transportation and overall living will be cheap in India. However, one are that you may want to consider investing in is where you stay. India is hectic. India can be sweltering hot. India is tiring. Give yourself the gift of a clean room with good service. The value for money can be exceptional.
India is famous for the "delhi belly" that inflicts many foreigners - especially during a first-time visit. I was very lucky to avoid this but also extremely careful. Drink only bottled water. Brush your teeth with bottled water. Stick with food that has been boiled for the first few days of your trip (you may want to do so the entire time.) Most importantly, load up on probiotics a month or two before your trip. I had acidophilus twice a day for the month leading up to my flight. This is available at most pharmacies.