City Palace by night.
Udaipur. It feels like youâ€™re in a fairy tale city of Europe transported to India. Leaving Jodhpur around ten in the morning, it took a while to get to Udaipur
. (Eight p.m.) At first, the drive was nothing special. Dry, flat, desert scrubland, was all there was to see. Around five p.m. though, we started to head up into the Aravali Mountains. We drove through some amazing settings. I went into a very famous and holy Jain temple, and a monkey accosted me. Virander was driving, and he saw some monkeys. He stops the car in the road, and asks if I want to â€śtake picture?â€ť I say sure, and he mumbled something else I didnâ€™t pay much attention to.
Turns out, he said â€świndow up.â€ť I didnâ€™t pay attention, rolled the thing down, and as I turn back from retrieving my camera, thereâ€™s this giant monkey about 4 inches from my face, trying to get through the window! I immediately drop my camera, and roll the window up. Iâ€™ll listen to Virander a little more closely next timeâ€¦
After crossing the highest point of the days travels through the Aravalis, we entered a mountain valley. The valley looked as if India, Tuscany, and the Santa Ynez Valley all were combined in one. The valley had fields of wheat and sugarcane growing side by side. Mango trees lined the road, as did palms. There was a little river running along the valley floor, which went under bridges probably built hundreds of years ago.
More City Palace.
There were oxen pushing water wheels around in circles, storks and cranes standing tall in the wheat. The sun was also going down, which made for one of the more picturesque things Iâ€™ve seen. Itâ€™s what I imagine the valley would look like below Shangri-La in â€śLost Horizons.â€ť Pictures you might ask? My camera had run out of batteries by then, and I hadnâ€™t yet bought a back up. Maybe itâ€™s just as well, I feel this was a scene better remembered, than viewed in pictures.
Udaipur itself. Again, had a European feel to it. The city is far and away the cleanest city Iâ€™ve been to in India. The main part of the city is built around Lake Pichola. The City Palace complex, and the Lake Palace dominate the view.
Opposite side of lake from my room.
If youâ€™ve seen the James Bond â€śOctopussyâ€ť movie, youâ€™ve seen both palaces. The City Palace is where the current Maharaja of Udaipur lives. His palace is both huge and opulent, with two of his towers now turned into luxury hotels. ($450 an evening.) The Lake Palace is now a hotel only. It is widely considered one of the top five hotels in the world. A month or so before I arrived, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie stayed there for a few nights. ($650 an evening per room at the cheapest.) I was going to stay in the City Palace hotel for a night, because the Maharaja actually plays host to his guests, and I thought that would be so cool. He was in Europe at the time though so I thought better of it (and saved $.
View from Rooftop Restaurant.
) I still toured the City Palace, and was able to eat dinner there for a pretty reasonable price. The Lake Palace is another story. I tried to only take tea there, but was not allowed. Dinner only, with the minimum order being 3000 rupees. That translated to about 75 bucks, before tax and tip. As itâ€™s maybe my only trip to Udaipur, I had to visit. I opened my coat bag to grab a nice collared shirt and slacks for dinner. All my shirts were beyond wrinkled. The only thing I had was my new dress shirt from Thailand. Royal blue, with white collar and white cuffs. I honestly felt a little overdressed. I checked in at the jetty, with the young lady working the counter expecting me. I asked if I was appropriately dressed, and she replied in the affirmative.
Where I wrote this passage.
She then went on to say that I looked very handsome, and I had to agree. It turns out, that I shelled out the money for an awesome meal. It was my first time eating gourmet Indian fare. I was able eat the chutney and raita (yoghurt sauce) for the first time on the trip, as I trusted the cleanliness of the place. I met a few Americans while there, and we sat around the bar comparing India stories after dinner. I enjoyed the experience very much, and if I were to ever have that kind of money to blow, I would love to stay there. My hotel is nothing to wince at though. Itâ€™s named Hotel Sarovar, and is located on Lake Pichola too. My room is on the bottom floor, with the lake lapping up at my window. I open the curtains every morning, and see the locals bathing on the gats on the opposite bank. Iâ€™m actually writing this from my table located just in front of those windowsâ€¦. If you ever have the chance to visit Rajasthan (Land of kings) I hope you make Udaipur a stop. I could have easily spent a week or more there.