Udaipur.....its a grower

Udaipur Travel Blog

 › entry 28 of 33 › view all entries
My sleeper coach journey from Pushkar to Udaipur another new experience as the coach had a row of beds above the regular seats.  I got told to keep all my luggage and climbed up into my single glass coffin with tinted windows blocking anyone looking in.  My backpack and daybag positioned as pillows left very little room to lie and get any sleep on the bumpy 7 hour journey.  However, not feeling like I got any sleep at all, Udaipur appeared much quicker than expected. 

Udaipur is hyped as the most romantic city in India.   Sadly I am travelling alone which doesn't lend itself to the place and I was underwhelmed against my expectations.
Maybe if I was staying in the Jag Mandir floating palace ($850 per night), I would feel different ! However my rooftop terrace at my hostal did provide a pretty view of the  lake and the commanding City Palace along its bank.  I set off through a little maze of shopping streets and found the entrance to the City Palace, now open as a museum.

Built over 300 years (15th-18th century) by 13 consecutive ruling maharajas, the Udaipur palace is the largest royal complex in Rajasthan, with 11 of the maharajas building his own palace within the complex. The royal family also claim to have the longest royal lineage in the world listing 76 consecutive rulers dating back to 660 AD. A 1 way system in operation needed to negotiate a maze of rooms and passages as the tour displayed a few art galleries with very vivid pictures depicting the history and the maharajas and famous battles won.
  The paintings  story like in their presentation that told of much treachery as ruling maharajas were regularly killed off by ambitious brothers and sons keen to take the throne. After the obligatory armoury, the most stunning parts of the palace were a range of rooms decorated with stained glass and mirrors with 3D peacocks colourfully emerging from the walls.  Pretty courtyards offered nice views over Lake Pichola and its illustrious floating palace.  A nice half day outing.

I left the palace and went down to the waterfront to catch a lake cruise.  It offers very nice views of the palace and then cruises towards the ghats before getting very close to the Jag Mandir and its millionaire yachts moored just off the red carpet steps leading up the the palace.  Instead, we landed at the less salubrious 2nd island (Gol Mahal).
  Itself a very upper class island with marble walkways and manicured gardens with overpriced accommodation.  I refused to pay the $5 dollars for a coffee and after a few photos, re-boarded the boat to return to the mainland.

Back at the hostal, the rooftop terrace provided a lovely sunset over the lake and city (as long as you can find a spot to avoid the swarms of gnats that descend) before I succumbed to the cheesiness of Udaipur and watched James Bond's Octopussy that was partly filmed in Udaipur and is now shown in dozens of hotels across the city every night !! The film managed quite well in getting so many stereotypical Indian aspects in to the film - tuk tuks, elephant ride, tigers and ghats, but also suggested the Taj Mahal was in Udaipur.  It was still quite surreal seeing Roger Moore walking around Jag Mandir and Gol Mahal that I could see lit up on the lake just by turning around.

With surprisingly little to do in Udaipur other than admire the lake, I flagged a tuk tuk for a little trip out of the city. Driving around a couple of other pretty lakes, I arrived at Shilpgram as a tailor made village built to reflect village life in Rajasthan.  It is clearly off season and I was the only tourist around.  Quite embarassing to be greeted by a group of 20 dancers who then were reluctantly obliged to give me a personal tribal dance show.   I made a quick escape in to the huts that featured a number of museums around music instruments and village life of different tribes.   Nothing of particular interest but still enjoyed a leisurely uninterrupted stroll around the deserted village in the semi desert terrain and enjoyed a bit of warm sun. The much warned hassle of stall sellers non apparent as the exit road revealed every stall as empty except one stalwart trying to sell some art.
I accepted his offer of a demonstration and took pity by giving him a little custom.

On to Sajjangarth (the Monsoon palace).  Built in 19th century at the top of the highest hill in the area, Maharana Sajjan Singh planned a 19 storey castle including a 10 storey observatory to overlook his domain.  Sadly he died during its construction and his son unable to find a reliable water supply soon abandoned the plan.  It now remains a visitor attraction (helped by its feature in Octopussy) that provides unparalleled views over Udaipur.  Nice little spot having got an unusually clear day.  It also has an overpriced but pleasant cafe to enhance the experience whilst watching monkeys play fight on the lawns.

I left Udaipur able to appreciate why so many people sing its praises, but just not enough to keep a single traveller occupied.  Next place.......
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
photo by: s_vivek62