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Which is better Jaisalmer or Udaipur?

Discussion in 'Rajasthan' started by RichardGarner, Dec 24, 2016.

  1. RichardGarner

    RichardGarner New Member

    I am going to India for a holiday with my partner and I am planning the itinerary for the trip. When going to Rajasthan I would like to know which destination I should choose to visit Jaisalmer or Udaipur? Both seem interesting places to visit, with a lot to see and do, but we can only manage to visit one place out of the two.

    I would like to know which is better Jaisalmer or Udaipur?

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, welcome to the forum!



    So which should you choose, the Golden City (Jaisalmer) or the City of Lakes (Udaipur)? Both are such different destinations, though they are both located in the state of Rajasthan. For instance, we have Jaisalmer, located on the westernmost part of the state, close to the border of Pakistan with India. With the golden sands of the Thar desert, you can enjoy the views of the desert within close distance to the city itself. Once an important trading centre for other nearby Arabian countries, you can find remnants of this past through the numerous havelis in here. Oh, and where else can you experience an actual living fort, where locals truly live and where you can also stay for your whole visit?

    On the other hand, there's the romantic city of Udaipur, filled with picturesque lakes that have become its trademark attractions. Udaipur is probably one of the most serene destinations in the state. It has a nice greenery to it, especially after monsoon season, which is why it also attracts nature lovers. The palaces here provide one with a glimpse of the former glory of the Mewar dynasty. As you venture into the outskirts of the city, you'll find nature becomes more dominant. Its numerous lakes also have structures within the islands they have, quite stunning whether in day time or night time. Udaipur gives you that aura of a serene village despite being a progressive city, and as a bonus, many of its attractions are well-preserved and cared for.

    Jaisalmer and Udaipur - A Comparison

    1. Accessibility
    • Jaisalmer - Being located on the westernmost part of Rajasthan, Jaisalmer requires a bit more time and effort to reach. If you would like to save some time, you can travel via air, through the Jodhpur Domestic Airport. There are flights from major cities of India like Amritsar, Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai. This airport is about five hours away from Jaisalmer proper. To cover this distance, you have three options, bus, train or taxi. Rajasthan Roadways operates plenty of buses plying this route, leaving from Poata Circle in Jodhpur and reaching Jaisalmer. There are also a few trains plying from the Jodhpur Junction until the Jaisalmer Railway Station but journey duration can be as long as seven hours. Taxis can be very expensive and should only be utilised by those who are short for time and those who want a hassle-free journey. If you're coming from the capital, there are direct trains from the Old Delhi Junction up to Jaisalmer Railway Station but they are only few. There are no direct buses though from Delhi to Jaisalmer. You need to reach either Jaipur or Bikaner first and from there, ride a bus going to Jaisalmer. Journey is long though reaching 10 to 12 hours, from Jaipur alone. Though Jaisalmer can be accessed from other cities of Rajasthan and even from Delhi, the journey is very long, so be prepared for that. Otherwise, air journey is your best bet to save time and effort but it can be costly. Jaisalmer can also be accessed by road via the National Highway 11.
    • Udaipur - Udaipur has its own airport by the name of the Maharana Pratap Airport, which has direct flights to and from Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai and Trivandrum. The airport is merely 22 kilometres away from the city centre of Udaipur so you can easily cover the distance by taxi. If travelling via train, there's the Udaipur Railway Station which has direct trains from other cities like Ahmedabad, Agra, Delhi and Mumbai. Train journey from Delhi to Udaipur is around 12 to 15 hours. Similarly, the Rajasthan Roadways also operates a few buses plying between Delhi and Udaipur. You can choose between Volvo and Express buses and journey duration is around 14 to 15 hours though fare is very minimal. Udaipur is also easily accessible by road, if you're bringing your own car, via the National Highway 48.
    2. Places to Visit
    • Jaisalmer - En route to Jaisalmer, about two kilometres prior to entering the city proper, you'd reach the Gadsisar Lake. This is a manmade lake created by Maharwal Gadsi Singh around the 14th century, to act as a water reservoir for the then city. It's just a small lake but the little ones would enjoy the boating activities here, consisting of both pedal and motor boats. Next is the Jaisalmer Fort, also known as the Golden Fort, because its yellow sandstone facade gleams like gold from a distance. This is the only living fort in the world, where there are actual people living inside the fort, vendors selling in shops, amongst other things. You can visit the museum and Jain temples inside the fort, there are charges though, but entrance to the fort itself is free. The Patwaon Ki Havelis are collections of five havelis built hundreds of years ago. Though they look quite stunning from the outside, there's not much you can see inside. You can opt to visit at least one of these five havelis, since there's an entry fee for each. Other attractions in Jaisalmer need at least a full day to explore. They are located quite far from the city centre, like the Longewala War Memorial, the place where the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 happened. War items like tanks and bunkers were saved to serve as memorials for the brave Indian soldiers who died in the war. An hour away from the memorial is the Tanot Mata Temple, a place revered so sacred by the soldiers because it survived the same war. It even has the Pakistani bombs that didn't explode during the war, certainly a place worth visiting just to pay respects for the miracle it provided. Other places that you can visit are the Bada Bagh, collection of cenotaphs of the royal family of the city, and the Kuldhara Abandoned Village, a cursed village that lead to it being abandoned overnight.
    Gadsisar Lake in Jaisalmer (Image from Suren)
    • Udaipur - Start by visiting one of the largest palace complexes in the state, the City Palace of Udaipur. There are many different kinds of tickets to enter the complex, but a recommendation would be to purchase a ticket which includes the entire palace premises and its museums. The palace complex was built over a span of many years by different generations of the Mewar dynasty, resulting in about 11 palaces upon completion. The palaces reflect the different architectural styles of the then rulers, each with their own set of murals, delicate in-lays, mirror works and other designs that make the complex vibrant. Of course, you can't visit Udaipur without visiting the Lake Pichola, a manmade lake created by a gypsy who once lived in the city. Later, it was renovated and expanded by Maharana Udai Singh, who was captivated by the lake's beauty. There are several islands across the lake that are worth visiting too like the Jag Mandir and the Jag Niwas. You can also combine a trip to the Monsoon Palace and Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary in one day. The Monsoon Palace used to be a hunting ground for the royals of Udaipur and also an observation ground for predicting the monsoons. Outside of it, the Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary is another must visit where you can enjoy a wildlife safari and spot animals such as sambars, chitals, rabbits and jackals. For enjoying the cultural side of Udaipur, venture into either Shilpgram or Bagore Ki Haveli. The former has tons of cultural performances, camel rides, handicrafts and other activities showcasing the heritage of Udaipur. The latter has traditional folk performances like dances and puppet shows that you can enjoy.
    City Palace of Udaipur (Image from Antoine Taveneaux)

    3. Activities
    • Jaisalmer - The most popular activity to do in Jaisalmer is a camel safari amidst the sand dunes of the Thar desert. There are many tour companies and even locals that can provide you of an authentic sand dune experience. They can take you to the deeper parts of the desert, sometimes taking you to local villages too. At times, the Kuldhara Abandoned Village and Tanot Mata Temple are part of the itinerary too. Or you can try camping in the desert too, under the stars. There are luxury types of tented accommodations though there are also simple tented types one. During evening time, tour agencies usually prepare cultural shows for the guests in these camps. Other activities that tour agencies can facilitate are parasailing and paragliding.
    Camel Safari in Jaisalmer (Image from Nomad Tales)
    • Udaipur - A trip to Udaipur won't be complete without taking a boat ride in the Lake Pichola. Although you can do this activity any time of the day, sunsets can be very picturesque. If Lake Pichola is too commercialised for you, opt for Lake Jaisamand or Fateh Sagar Lake instead. The Mansapurna Karni Mata Ropeway is another activity that you can do. Riding the ropeway to reach the Karni Mata Temple and en route enjoying the views of the whole city of Udaipur is an activity that the whole family can enjoy. You can even indulge on trekking just on the outskirts of Udaipur, in the Morwania Village, where lush greenery and wildlife awaits you. You would also be exploring the smaller villages outside the city, an extraordinary experience as you take a closer look into the rural lives of these locals. Other lesser known activities such as paragliding and hot air balloon riding can also be done in the city of Udaipur.
    Ropeway in Udaipur (Image from Sadasiv Swain)

    4. Staying Options
    • Jaisalmer - For the authentic Jaisalmer experience, you must stay in the Golden Fort area even for just a few days of your stay in the city. There are some budget accommodation options within the fort itself with the likes of Hotel Sand Castle and Hotel Golden City. Staying here won't cost more than Rs. 700 per night though the rooms would be very basic and won't have air-conditioning. If you want more comfortable options but still within budget, there's the Bharat Villas and Siddhartha Hotel, both have rates ranging between Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 2,000 per night. For higher end options, you can try out Hotel Jaisal Castle and Hotel Fifu, both have rates under Rs. 3,000 per night but can provide guests with luxury and top-notch services. Even for backpackers, there are guest houses and dormitories that they can stay in within the fort area. Rates wouldn't cost more than Rs. 500 per night. You would need to share the room with other backpackers though.
    • Udaipur - There is also a myriad of staying options in Udaipur. For the budget travellers, Hotel Rajpal Palace and Surbhi Palace have very basic but clean rooms. Nightly rates would be around Rs. 600 per night which is very affordable. For the solo travellers, especially men, you can try out Backpacker Panda, where you can rent a bed per night for less than Rs. 300. A bit more luxurious but still on the mid-range is the Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel. Make sure you book a room with the view of Lake Pichola and you're bound to feel that your Rs. 1,850 per night is worth it. There are also many four-star and five-star hotels, for those who have the money to spare, like the Taj Lake Palace, with rates over Rs. 60,000 per night, and Ramada Resort and Spa, with rates over Rs. 11,000 per night.
    5. Best Time to Visit
    • Jaisalmer - There's no doubt that the best time to visit Jaisalmer is during the winter season. Temperatures reach the low 20ºC marks and nights are even more chilly. You can explore the whole city to your heart's content without worrying about the humidity or the heat. The winter season extends from the months of October until March. In the month of February, you can also enjoy the three-day long Desert Festival, where camel races, cultural shows, acrobatic shows, handicraft exhibits and many more activities are showcased in the golden city. The succeeding months constitute the summer season, which is from April to June. Temperatures can reach the high 40ºC mark by this time so it's best avoid the city unless you're used to hot climates. The last season, the monsoon, from July to September, is part of the off-peak tourist season. Humidity is prevalent during this season though rainfall is scanty. If you decide to visit during this time, make sure you stay hydrated as the heat can take the best of you.
    • Udaipur - Much like the former, Udaipur is best visited during the winter season, from October to March. Temperatures are on the range of 20ºC to 30ºC during these months. The cooler climate enables the tourists to explore most of Udaipur. You can also enjoy the boat ride even more with the pleasant atmosphere. The Shilpgram Fair is also conducted either in the months of November or December. This is a very colourful festival, where local handicrafts are showcased and cultural performances are shown. The next months are part of the summer season, from April to June. These months are best avoided because temperatures can reach beyond 40ºC. The next season is a good time to go, if you can handle the humidity. Especially just post-monsoon, like in September, the jungles of Udaipur are covered in greenery and the lakes become fuller too.
    6. Dining Options
    • Jaisalmer - There are plenty of restaurants around Jaipur, with an assortment of Rajasthani and international cuisines. If you want authentic Rajasthani cuisine, you can try out Desert Boy's Dhani, The Trio or Zoya Ka Zayeka. If you want wonderful views while dining, there's the Pleasant Haveli Rooftop Restaurant or even Cafe The Kaku. Italian dishes, you say? You can try out Jaisal Italy or Jaisalmer Oasis Restaurant. Free Tibet is recognised for their delicious Tibetan fare like momos and noodle soups. For pure vegetarians, try out Milan Restaurant or Jaisal Treat. Or if you're feeling quite adventurous, try out the local street foods of Jaisalmer. You can find them in every nook and corner of the city but the best seller snacks are dal pakwan, lassi and pyaaz ki kachori.
    • Udaipur - With a view of the Lake Pichola, every meal in Jheel's Ginger and Coffee Bakery becomes more delicious. This bakery is a favourite amongst tourists for their delicious baked goods and pastries. You can spend your morning here or even your mid-meal snack. There's also the Jaiwana Haveli Rooftop Restaurant, with an assortment of Indian and Asian cuisines. Offering a view of the whole city, you're bound to enjoy every bite of your meal here. If you want a more affordable option, head on to the Natraj Dining Hall and Restaurant, where you can enjoy authentic Rajasthani thali for an economical price. Grasswood Cafe is a good option for those who want to indulge in other cuisines aside from local ones. And don't worry, Udaipur has a number of street food stalls too so you can try out local cuisine that's easy on the pocket. Head on over to the Sukhadia Circle where you can find a wide variety of meals and snacks to satisfy you.
    7. Stay Duration
    • Jaisalmer - Jaisalmer can be covered in as little as two days or as much as a week. It depends really on what you intend to do in the city once you visit it. For those who just want to do some sightseeing, two to three days would be enough for that. The nearby attractions of Tanot Mata Temple, Kuldhara Abandoned Village and Longewala can take a full day. The remaining city attractions can be covered in a whole day or less. If you add in the camel safari, that would be an additional half day or whole day. And if you add in the camping, you would need to stay for another day. Thus, make sure you plan your itinerary well in order to foresee just how many days you need to spend on the golden city. But generally, you can enjoy the whole experience within a week or less.
    • Udaipur - Udaipur can also be covered within three days to a week. The sights around the city are quite close to each other and can be visited in one whole day. The Monsoon Palace and Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary can be done on a separate day to fully enjoy the jungles. Now, if you want to watch a cultural show in the Bagore Ki Haveli, add in another day for that, since that occurs at night. But generally, even with just two days, you can fully enjoy your trip to Udaipur.
    8. Excursions
    • Jaisalmer - There are some villages that you can visit close to Jaisalmer. Khuri is just 58 kilometres away from the golden city and is renowned for its sand dunes too. It's not that commercialised so you can enjoy a camel safari here without the crowds or the noise. About 15 kilometres away from Jaisalmer is Lodurva, famous for its Jain Temple, which despite being in ruins, still showcases the rich architectural style of the Bhati dynasty. You can also reach Khaba, an hour away from Jaisalmer. It has a small fort which was also abandoned just like the Kuldhara Village. The views of the rural villages here are very tranquil and serene. And finally, about three hours away from Jaisalmer is Barmer. Little known to tourists, this city has a number of temples that you can visit. It also has sand dunes that are not ventured into by many tourists.
    Khuri (Image from Flicka)
    • Udaipur - There are many excursions that you can take outside of Udaipur. You can't miss visiting Chittorgarh, just 117 kilometres away from the city of Udaipur. The Chittorgarh Fort was built around the 7th century by the Mewar dynasty before establishing their empire in Udaipur. Interestingly, many tragedies have occurred in the fort, stories of sacrifice, death and love, all make it eerie and mysterious at the same time. Kumbhalgarh is also worth visiting, merely four hours away from the former city. The Kumbhalgarh Fort is one of the largest forts in the country and in the world. Believed to be the second longest walled fortification after the Great Wall in China, this is where the great Mewar ruler, Maharana Pratap, was born. If you still have the time, visit Ranakpur, where the world's largest Jain Temple can be found. The exquisite carvings on the walls of the temple are worth exploring. And last but not the least, make your way into the only hill station of Rajasthan, Mount Abu, just 163 kilometres away from Udaipur. There's not much you can do here but it's a great place to relax after a hectic schedule of touring and sightseeing.
    Chittorgarh (Image from Nagarjun Kandakuru)


    Jaisalmer is a city full of ancient history that intermingles with modernity. It is where the only living fort in the world can be found. It is where you can enjoy a camel safari ride in the sand dunes of the Thar desert. It is where you get a glimpse of the once flourishing Rajput era. It can be a bit on the chaotic side, especially inside the fort, but the outskirts are generally more quiet. If you love adventure, you can enjoy lots of activities here like paragliding, parasailing and even camping under the stars. History and thrilling experiences? You can have them both when in Jaisalmer.

    On the other hand, Udaipur is dubbed as a romantic destination. It is more laid-back, has an assortment of natural sights and less chaotic. A boat ride amidst the Lake Pichola can take all your worries away. A stroll amidst the different palaces of Udaipur can give you a glimpse of the royal Mewar era. Certain attractions can provide you with a complete cultural experience of the city too. Numerous five-star hotels are available, as well as budget ones, catering to the luxurious travellers and to the budget ones. So of you want a relaxing holiday, a place where you can get lost in the stories of the past, then Udaipur it is for you.

    I hope this helps you!:)