When we whisked away Bollywood star Aditi Rao Hydari to the brand-new Raffles Udaipur for a jaw-dropping cover shoot, the actor recalled her fond memories of Udaipur, Jodhpur, and other places in a candid conversation. By Priyanka Chakrabarti
Travel + Leisure India: Tell us about your most memorable holiday in Udaipur.
Aditi Rao Hydari: When I was 19, I visited Udaipur with my teacher and friends for a dance concert. I remember going to the Shrinathji Temple in Nathdwara at four in the morning. The temple’s humble aesthetic appeal took my breath away. Also, it was January 1, which made the morning even more special.
Travel + Leisure India: Did you enjoy your stay at Raffles Udaipur?
Aditi Rao Hydari: It’s an impressive property. The balcony of my suite opens to an expanse of lush greenery contoured by Lake Udai Sagar, and the Aravalli mountains in the distance. I love how every corner of this hotel is quaint. I’m thrilled that I checked in to this property on its inaugural day; I don’t think I’ve ever done that before! Not to forget, I truly enjoyed the charming boat ride to the property. You come from a royal lineage, and Rajasthan is seen as synonymous with royalty in India.
Travel + Leisure India: Which aspect of the state resonates most with you?
Aditi Rao Hydari: I love their mehman nawazi (hospitality). I come from Hyderabad, where people are very generous and gracious to guests. I feel Rajasthan echoes similar sentiments—people here are warm and friendly; they walk the extra mile to make guests feel at home, and the food is phenomenal. Perhaps, that’s why so many foreigners are drawn to this state. There’s so much to explore, from deserts, lakes, and the Aravalli peaks to all the traditional art forms, music, culinary gems, and handicrafts. Rajasthan harbours a vibrant soul that makes everyday life seem magical.
Travel + Leisure India: What’s your take on its folk dances?
Aditi Rao Hydari: My mom used to take me to watch puppet shows and Kalbeliya dance performances when I was a child. I used to be mesmerised by every act. The grace and joy that Rajasthani dance forms exude is transcendental. I also love the music of the Manganiyars and Langas; their tracks give me goosebumps, and I often tear up—it’s so hauntingly beautiful.
Travel + Leisure India: Do you have a favourite heirloom piece?
Aditi Rao Hydari: When I turned 13, my grandfather gave me a dainty neckpiece that belonged to his mother. Originally, it used to be a larger piece of jewellery that was dismantled to craft out smaller ornaments. This necklace has Basra pearls, uncut rubies, and emeralds. It’s very special to me.
Travel + Leisure India: What kind of traveller are you?
Aditi Rao Hydari: I’m a dreamy traveller. When I go to a destination, I like the day to unfold effortlessly. I don’t like hectic itineraries. I prefer authentic, immersive experiences.
Travel + Leisure India: What’s your take on community tourism?
Aditi Rao Hydari: I feel the best way to explore a city is to be guided by a local. This makes the whole experience richer. As a child, I’ve been encouraged to be more accepting of people, traditions, cultures, and languages. When you blend in with the local way of living, you truly understand the pulse of the destination—sociologically, historically, and culturally.
Travel + Leisure India: Your favourite place in Rajasthan?
Aditi Rao Hydari: I love Jodhpur. I still can’t get over the city view that I witnessed from atop Mehrangarh Fort.
Travel + Leisure India: Any destinations on your bucket list?
Aditi Rao Hydari: Rewa and Orchha in Madhya Pradesh; a whole lot of Northeast India; and more of South India, too.
Travel + Leisure India: A hidden gem in India that you stumbled upon during your travels?
Aditi Rao Hydari: It’s not a hidden gem, but I recently shot in Kozhikode, and I fell in love with the place, especially its culinary offerings. I also love the antiquated vibe of Puducherry.
Travel + Leisure India: What’s your favourite destination in Asia?
Aditi Rao Hydari: I adore Taiwan. From sulphur springs and mountains to lakes and forests and delectable gastronomical trails, Taiwan gave me a great holiday.