The Maharana of Mewar is making money; Real rural Rajasthan
Bundi Travel Blog› entry 13 of 23 › view all entries
We greatly enjoyed our 6 days in Udaipur. It is a well kept city, beautifully situated and with an attractive old town. The traditional ruler of the area is the Maharana of Mewar. He claims his is the longest unbroken dynastic succession in the world. Although his grandfather had to give up real power to the new independent India, his family is still clearly a force in Udaipur. The Mewars own not only the Lake Palace Hotel, but a dozen others in the region, including the Fateh Palace which is in the Maharana's City Palace complex. There we saw the crystal furniture collection (seriously - crystal tables, chairs, beds, even punkah rails ordered by a 19th century maharana but never used as he died before it all arrived from England) and had English afternoon tea (scones, cream, jam, tea bread) to the accompaniment of sitar and tabla.
Real Rural Rajasthan
We decided to spend a night in Chittorgarh to see its huge fort. It turned out to be another astonishing vast hilltop area, originally more a fortified town than what we'd call a fort. It has much Rajput history attached. It was a Mewar stronghold and variouus acts of johaur occurred there. That's when, knowing defeat awaits them, the fort's women and children burnt themselves rather than be taken, and then the men, having smeared themselves with the ash, rode out to death - but not dishonour.
Our driver, Mansingh was the one who's taken us to Kumbalgarh earlier. We'd got on well then. About 10km outside Udaipur he asked if we'd like to stop at his sister's house. We said yes. It was a farm just off the main road. We were warmly welcomed and served bread, vegetables and sweet rice and coconut pudding. They had fields, fruit trees, water buffalo and cows. We were asked our opinion about the quality of their grain!
Mansingh then suggested that after the fort visit, we should go to meet his parents and other relatives, who lived near Chittorgarh, and have a meal at their house, his home before he moved to Udaipur. How could we refuse? We went back along the main road, then 10km or so down a country lane, to arrive at Badisara, a small town. We were greeted by mum (65), dad, a retired steamroller driver (70), sister in law, and what seemed like dozens of children.