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Octopussy style!

Udaipur Travel Blog

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The group decided to spend extra on a car to drive us the 6 hours to Udaipur rather than the 8 hour bus.  We stopped in the Bishnoi village near Jodhpur to see the local potter and also a man prepare opium!  apparently they drink opium tea every day before working long hard hours in the fields.  Seeing as they are in the middle of nowhere it must be a pretty boring life.  Understandable!

We also stopped at a massive Jain temple.  Really beautifully made inside.  Pictures attached.  Such amazing architeture and it was 600years old.  Strange to think!

When we finally arrived in Udaipur - after some complaints about the quality of the driving! - we were pleasantly surprised by the quaintness of the  old town - sleepy in comparison to much of india - and its positioning on a huge romantic lake.  This is supposed to be the most romantic city in india, and i wouldnt disagree.  In the lake is a huge white palace - now a hotel - where the first part of Octopussy was set.  James Bond stayed there!  Nice.  Our guide remembers the film crew being there.  There is a big chase through the town as well where they paid the shopkeepers to shut for the day as it became a huge film set.  We watched the film on the first night in a restaurant (they play it in every restaurant i think!) and were impressed to be sitting looking down at the same sights as on the screen!

We spent our first day in Udaipur with our tour guide showing us around the Maharanas palace.  He seems to be the man to know in this town - owning much of it and turning what he owns into amazxiong luxury hotels which must make him a mint.  Our guide is originally from Udaipur and he used to work as a tour guide in this palace so to have a full tour for nothing was really great!  Then we walked around to the Hindu temple and I sat as ladies chanted and sung with drums and then everyone prayed to a statue of Vishnu I think it was.  We ate lunch in a german bakery and i had a lovely piece of apple rumble!  Then we walked for a couple of hours round the lakes to get to a lovely set of gardens built as a dowry for a marriage.  Udaipur lakes amazed me -  could just see it beiing in Europe and with a little man made beach formed at the side.  The sidea were set with a promenade and park and it was - shock horror for india - generally clean!  with little shops and stalls on the side like an english sea side.  Of course - indian people dont show skin so there is no cculture for sunbathing - or allowance of it at all - at the side of the lake so i t hasnt developed as it would in the west - but it was still pleasant all the same!

The gardens were ;lovely too with a lotus pool and loads of fountains.  We sat and chatted and read books till the sun set then got a rickshaw back to town to prepare for the evenings party.  Our guide had invited us to his home where he lives with his wife and family.  His wife is seven months pregnant so I expect she was pleased to have him back for these few days in the middle of our trip.  I bought a local scarf especially to wear and we got him a photo album for his future baby photos and all put some money in it.  His house was walking distance form our hotel in the pretty old town and we were welcomed by endless bropther in laws and sisters and sister in laws and little nieces and nephews of our guide and all the neighbours were there too!  Lots of friendly locals to chat with and they seemed really pleased to have us there.  Our leader was also proud to be able to show us real indian hospitality, and we got the works!  He's sorted us beers and wine and a lovely dinner which awed us all.  We were all very impressed and honoured he had put on such a lovely evening.  After we all went up to the street for dancing - as it is a festival of lights at the moment and each night there is a street party with dancing  where you have a partner and each have a stick in both hands and you must touch the sticks in a certain way then change sides.  All good fun!  We danced with the little girls mainly who seemed really pleased to have big western girls to dance with!  The boys were also very keen top dance needless to say but it felt a bit like being back at school with their eagerness to impress us.  bless.

we were all happy to rest back at the hotel.  it had been an energetic night! 
The next day we had another full day to explore Udaipur.  There wasnt muh more we wanted to see so me and Patricia got a rickshaw to a resort nearby to use the swimming pool for the day.  We just lounged around in the sun - finally being able to get rid of our t shirt tan!  First time my stomach and shoulders and thighs had seen the sun in a while.  I also felkt too much curry and no exercise would reek havo soon so did 40 laps in the pool to try and tone up before hitting the beaches in Thailand in a couple weeks!

Back at the hotel I exchanged by book in for a new one - both were by iindian authors looking at peoples stories from two important times in India - the partition with Pakistan and the Emergency laws of Indira Gandhis time.  Nice to get a real feel of the country and its history now that im here and i can  understand such books a lot better!  We went on a boat ride around the lake and saw again more property owned by the Maharana.  He also owns another island which is rented for parties!  nice.  And there is a massive 30 acre hotel complex accross the river where Bill Clinton has been recently to meet with the Indian president!  Certainly the place to be here, James Bond, Bill Clinton!  and various other rih types in such amazing hotels....

We went to a little haveli nearby for a cultural dance before dinner.  I wasn't execting much but was pleasently surprised by the mixtur.  First was the peacok dance with a lady and another l;ady dressed as a peacock.  Then ladies with bowls of fire on their heads danced.  Then there was a funny puppeteer whose puppets limbs changed places and made all the kids laugh.  At the end a lady danced with 9 water buckets on her head!  She was doing a special trick as each set of buckets was upgraded - walking on glass and then running in circles with the tower on there at the end!  Very impressive.  Pitures to come.  We finished off our lovely evening by eating in the most romanti restaurant in Jaipur - in a wonderful old white haveli on the lake.  We took off our shoes to sit cross legged up on a giant window seat in an alcove with a big low table and enjoyed our dinner looking out over James Bonds Octopussy hotel in the lake.  It was really lovely, as I'm sure you an imagine, and we even had a live sitar and Tabla drum at to listen to and complete the experience!

Tomorrow we would be leaving the joys of Udaipur for a smaller lake town very sacred to Hindus called Pushkar.  More on that soon, because people are waiting to use this computer!

xxx
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photo by: s_vivek62