After the stress of Delhi, all we wanted was a clean place to stay with hot water, friendly people and less traffic. After another freezing train trip, we found most of what we were after in Udaipur, a pretty town on a huge lake, with many lovely havelis (old ornate houses originally built by rich merchants), and a somewhat more upmarket feel than when we last visited. This was the town for a slight splurge- we thought we deserved it! There were so many beautiful rooms in Udaipur, and with the town being famous for artists, the paint jobs were carefully executed, unlike the usual slipshod jobs we were used to! We found a spotless yet character-filled room, complete with coloured glass in the windows, Rajasthan style murals on the walls and a steaming hot solar shower for $9!
We were slightly disappointed when, on our second day, the heavens opened and the rained poured down all day and night- the staff at the hotel said they’d never seen anything like it! But luckily, the weather soon turned, and the days became sunny and warm, and although the nights were cool, it was a big improvement on the last couple of months.
Apparently, the current royal family has put quite a push on tourism, and we saw more foreign tourists here than anywhere else on our trip in India. There is a lot to see, however, and we were kept busy sightseeing during the day and snuggling down in our lovely soft, warm bed at night!
|Richard sipping a kulhad coffee (just a cappuccino really!)|
|Shop selling used dentures|
A lot of the sights in Udaipur involve climbing hills surrounded by flowering gardens, and admiring the glorious views of the two large lakes, Pichola and Fateh. The sparkling waters, with white palaces on the water’s edge with lush islands floating in the middle and hills in the background are spectacular, and the walks were well worth the effort.
|Lake Pichola, Udaipur|
|More lovely lake views, Udaipur|
|Bells on a hilltop temple, Udaipur|
|Early evening on our hotel rooftop, Udaipur|
|Lake Pichola, Udaipur|
The main tourist area is around Gangaur Ghat on the edge of Lake Pichola, and the Jagdish Vishnu Temple is the centrepiece among the traffic filled narrow streets. We admired the detailed carvings here, despite the loud music coming from the temple that woke us up before six every morning.
|Outside Jagdish Tmeple, Udaipur|
|Detailed carvings, Jagdish Temple, Udaipur|
|Google-eyed deity, Jagdish Temple, Udaipur|
|Washing at the ghats in Udaipur|
|Our gloomy first day in Udaipur|
|....and when the sun came out|
|Pink washing, Udaipur ghats|
|A bull posing, Gangaur Ghat, Udaipur|
Also around the ghat was the gorgeous Bagore-ki- haveli , and despite the restoration work going on here, we marvelled at the “Rajasthan”-style designs we love, with mirrors galore, colour, paintings, courtyards, lake views and carved stone. Two rooms had unusual displays. One had a huge number of turbans (which, apparently show social and economic standing- we never knew that) of various castes, some of which seemed very specific ie. “This is worn by accountants from the Shekawati region” or “Only the producers and exporters of oil from Jaipur would wear this style”. The other display was a room full of polystyrene carvings of as random things as the Eiffel Tower!
|A gorgeous room decorated in mirrored mosaic, haveli, Udaipur|
|Getting creative in the haveli!|
Udaipur is also famous as the place where the 1982 film Octopussy, with Roger Moore was filmed (and less so for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, with Judy Dench), and we remembered on our last visit not being able to eat dinner in any restaurant without the movie blaring out. This time, however, we had to search it out, and joined our new Danish friend, Sarah, for a Bond evening. A few days later, Richard and I visited the Vintage Car Museum and saw the Rolls Royce Phantom from the film in person, along with many other evocative cars with colourful royal histories (one of the Maharajas is a car fanatic).
It was in Udaipur where we began to feel run down. We’d gotten to the sad stage where we were tired, and ready for a change. It’s a shame, because we may not have fully appreciated all the sights we were seeing. But it happens in this huge, crazy country- so many things that are charming to begin with often turn annoying after 6 months. No doubt, though, as soon as we leave we will be dying to get back; it’s always the way it works!
A mix up with our train from Udaipur saw us ending up back in Pushkar, instead of Bundi, as we had planned (another long story!). Although we would have liked to return to Bundi after visiting it so many years ago, we decided it was fate to end our trip to India in our favourite place of our six months here.
|Little cutie on the train to Ajmer|
|Typical signs at an Indian train station|
|Fellow passenger, train to Ajmer|
|Glamour on the tracks, train to Ajmer|
In our two month absence from Pushkar the weather had fined up, and we scored a great little basic room away from the bustle of the main town, near the lake, with a view of flower gardens, and the morning and afternoon sunshine, which we took full advantage of.
Mostly our days were spent doing the rounds of our favourite cafes and restaurants (so much good eating in this town!), meeting and chatting with new people, starting some belated research for Iran, watching cheeky monkeys entertain, stocking up on clothes and other things for our upcoming travels (prices are ridiculously cheap here, and we love the “Pushkar style”!), enjoying sunsets (not so many sunrises this time!) and observing yet more weddings (this really is the town to for nuptials- we even saw one with five couples).
|Combining research and food!|
We were dreading leaving this oasis, and returning to Delhi, but the knowledge that it would only be for one night before our big adventure travelling to Iran and beyond, kept us enthusiastic!