On a resplendent October evening, Travel+Leisure India & South Asia arrives in the ancient city of Udaipur with Bollywood actor Athiya Shetty, who plays the royal bride for our cover shoot.
Produced By Chirag Mohanty Samal
Photographed By Rahul Jhangiani
Assisted By Azfar Khan
Styled By Divyak D’souza
Assisted By Khushi Bhatia
Hair and Make-Up By Kiran Denzongpa
Assisted By Karchung Gurung
Couture Partner: Qbik
Styling Partner: Philips
Location: Trident, Udaipur
A jetty ride over Lake Pichola in Udaipur is not new to me. This time, it is at dusk. The sun is inching towards the horizon, the City Palace is glowing, and Jagmandir is preparing to bid adieu to its last bunch of visitors for the day. I, however, am waiting for the sky to turn dark. After all, the glittering lights from the City Palace make for a great spectacle. But instead of a smooth exit, the sun chooses drama, and fills the sky with hues of orange and soft pink. You can never predict the spectacles of Udaipur, a new surprise lingers in every corner of this royal city. It also effortlessly straddles two worlds. On one hand is the regal history of Rajasthan, lush Aravallis, and man-made lakes, and on the other is a contemporary city with towering hotels embodying ancient art, architecture, and spirit.
Athiya Shetty in Udaipur
Soon, we arrive at Trident, Udaipur, the destination for our cover shoot with vivacious actor Athiya Shetty. Situated on the banks of Lake Pichola, the hotel’s landscaped gardens offer an idyllic setting. And Shetty seems to be in agreement. “I think Trident is a beautiful property because it has the best of both worlds. You can see the hills, the beautiful lake, and cherish a sunset. And what I love about the property is that it has so much greenery and space and I think that is what luxury is for me—space.”
We discover Udaipur’s serene charm the next morning, as we get the cameras rolling for the first shot with Athiya Shetty, a little post crack of dawn. As Shetty gets into her first outfit, we ask her what makes a perfect holiday for her?
“For me, it would definitely be the company and the energy I am surrounded by. Whether I am on a beach or in the middle of mountains, to be able to live in the moment and switch off is something that I think makes a holiday a holiday. Try to keep away from your phone and just soak in the beautiful property, city, or inn. Take chances whether it’s with food or sightseeing or shopping—just do what makes you happy. Don’t have a super strict schedule of timings, just go with the flow,” she says.
And speaking of being able to take chances, Shetty shares how she loves experimenting with different cuisines while travelling. “I love experimenting and trying the local food. I think that’s what is exciting about going to a new place,” she adds while sampling the Rajasthani thali at the property’s restaurant Aravalli.
The Rajasthan sun blazes overhead as we prepare for our next shot. But the team is perseverant. And it’s not new for Shetty to step out of her comfort zone to get the perfect shot, after all her career demands it. From her first film in 2015 to her latest in 2021, the actor has shown dogged determination.
“I think I have evolved so much as a human being and that has resulted in me evolving as an actor and as a performer. I feel that you grow with every film and project,” she says, adding, “You are learning new things about yourself, your craft, and that’s really important. I don’t think the excitement and the newness of each set will ever change.”
When asked about making mistakes, Shetty is quick to respond. “I have made mistakes and grown. I’ve also learnt to cope with some insecurities, while overcoming the others. And I think all these things make you a better actor and a better performer,” she iterates.
We now gear up for the last shot of the day, and what better time than dusk to capture Lake Pichola in all its magnificence. A short golf cart ride away from Trident, Udaipur, Lake Pichola best describes Udaipur’s serenity. This freshwater lake lures many to the city time and again, including me.
And so, I cannot help but wonder about that one place that Athiya feels drawn to. Humouring my curiosity, she says, “London. I have always felt extremely connected to London. That’s my favourite destination, it almost feels home but each time I go, I always discover a new part of the city, whether it’s a restaurant, store, Broadway show, or shopping. It feels like home but also feels like a new city every time I visit.”
And her favourite travel partner? “My mum,” she says. “Because I have my best holidays with her. We’re on the same wavelength when it comes to holidays and what we should be doing,” Shetty smiles.
During our fun chats in between shots, Shetty tells me she prefers a quiet and chilled holiday. “I am not much of a party person,” she laughs. And in the age-old beaches versus mountains debate, she would side with team mountains. “I used to be a beach person, but now I think I gravitate towards mountains. When we were kids, we would go to the beach, and I feel like now that I have grown up, I kind of want to explore the mountains,” she shares.
As we wrap up our shoot on the banks of Lake Pichola in Udaipur, Athiya Shetty excitedly tells me about things on the work front, “I just finished shooting for a film with a bunch of very special people and I am super excited about it. And I hope everybody enjoys watching it as much as I enjoyed filming it.”
Vistara and IndiGo operate regular flights to Udaipur from major Indian cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru.
Located on the banks of Lake Pichola, Trident, Udaipur is nearly 27 kilometres from the domestic airport and offers various offbeat experiences for travellers. One can choose from 142 deluxe rooms and suites at the property. Doubles from INR 21,750; tridenthotels.com