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Udaipur

Arrived in Udaipur ahead of schedule - and silly early - with our very luxurious Volvo A/C bus from Jaipur. This time we had a lovely smooth ride with nice reclining seats. Was once again a bit worried early on in the ride as they started to show some traditional dance on the screen up front - this in itself wouldn't have been any problem had it not been for the volume set so high our ears were about to pop. It didn't help with the people seated behind us singing along and tapping the beat. Luckily they gradually lowered the volume, and after about half an hour turned it off completely, before dimming the lights so people could go to sleep.

Because of our early arrival before the break of dawn we had to navigate our way in a strange place in the dark with a less than sufficient map... Why guidebooks often leave out maps for bus and railway stations is beyond me - they are fairly essential to our travels - thank you Lonely Planet. It's not only with the Lonely Planet we've had this issue though, it seems to be happening with most of the guides we've been trying out on previous trips.

We start walking in roughly the right direction and have to backtrack a few meters to get on the right road, but with the exception of one more wrong turn - where we get stopped by some security guards - we get to the chosen hotel Minerwa (www.hotelminerwaudaipur.com). By this time it's about 05:30 in the morning and the whole town is absolutely dead quiet. We find a doorbell and manage to wake someone up to let us in. As they won't have any rooms free before about 10:00 they give us some blankets and let us crash out up on the roof terrace, so we can get an extra bit of sleep. To our surprise we find there are quite a few travellers already up there fast asleep. We try to make ourselves comfortable and get a few moments of rest. Our rest was unfortunately short-lived and about 07:30 they started preparing for opening the restaurant for breakfast. We seated ourselves by one of the tables and started the patient wait for getting a room ready for us. Hannah had been suffering all morning with her stomach, but it now suddenly started to escalate and we had to consult the guide (which I earlier slagged off) to find out what course of action to take. Antibiotics - specifically Ciprofloxacin - were recommended. I asked the owner of the hotel for directions to the nearest chemist and he quickly took me there on the back of his motorbike. Moments later the first dose of drugs were administered. The wait for the room seemed like an eternity but we finally got to crash out in our room. Completely knocked out we spent the day resting and even had to get the dinner served in the room. Later in the evening I had to face the fact I had to start on the antibiotics as well. Delhi-Belly for two please... I have to praise the hotel for the way they looked after us while we were feeling a bit poorly, and this did of course help us to recover faster.

Next day we were both feeling much better and decided to explore the town more. We ventured out to a cafe called Edelweiss close to our hotel and found it had good coffee, tea and food for our delicate stomachs.

Hannah decided on a stress relieving massage, while I took a little walk around the backstreets of Udaipur. Found it reminded me a lot of the medinas of Morocco, with its narrow snaking roads where you completely lose your sense of direction. Some places had blue painted houses and this specifically reminded me of Chefchaouen. Also, one thing that were immediately apparent was that the streets were clean and not the dusty dirty ones we were used to so far here in India. Very little hassle from rickshaw drivers and no touts about also make this place like a chilled heaven in comparison to previous experiences of this country. We can see more people just enjoying themselves as they mosey around and looking into shops. It's good see they've caught on to the fact that hassling people to come into their shop does not work as well as good service when people choose to have a look around - I bet the various shops sell much more per tourist because of the relaxed atmosphere (and they probably have less stress-related illnesses due to not standing shouting at passerbys). We also notice many families with small kids - something we haven't seen much of before, again suggesting people find this place more tranquil and friendly.

[caption id="attachment_444" align="aligncenter" width="545"] A bit of street art by the lake, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_445" align="aligncenter" width="545"] A bit of street art by the lake, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_446" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_447" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_448" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_450" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_451" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_452" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_453" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_454" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_455" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_456" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_457" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_458" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_459" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Udaipur.[/caption]

As we had a very nice city-tour with the RTDC (Rajasthan Tourist Development Company) in Jaipur we wanted to inquire about their tours for Udaipur. The guide had the RTDC office located at a hotel somewhere outside its map... GRRRRR... We went on to the RTDC website and found the address of their office there with a map pinpointing the exact location. Great we thought and headed out to find the office and book our tour. We soon realised this place was not easy to find - we ended up walking around for quite some time, and when we finally found the location specified we realised there was no such hotel at that spot, let alone any RTDC office... All that was there was the entrance to the Udaipur Zoo. We gave up trying and headed for the brilliant City Palace Museum. The museum is quite big with many steps and narrow corridors to manoeuvre, and being a bit under the weather from the Delhi-Belly symptoms I found I had to stop to rest quite frequently as I was feeling a bit light-headed after climbing stairs and such. Going through the museum almost killed me off, but it was a very good experience. The palace seems very well kept, although some parts not included in the museum tour does look a bit worse for wear. Compared to some sites it's really well looked after, and I'm sure they're gradually restoring more of the palace. It's obviously a very popular attraction and at some times it got a bit congested. We managed to "overtake" one particular large group of Indian tourists that were blocking our way. Only just passed this group and I was admiring one of the multi-coloured mirrored rooms of the palace through a window from the assembly courtyard - I was about to go over to the door leading to the next part of the tour when in the corner of my eye I spot the guide pointing in my direction, and as a result the whole group starts to run towards me like a mad hoard. I actually have real problems getting towards the door to the next room as there is no stopping this stampede - they seem afraid they'll not be able to see this room unless they are the first to reach it, and that their life depends on it.

[caption id="attachment_460" align="aligncenter" width="545"] City Palace, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_461" align="aligncenter" width="533"] City Palace, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_462" align="aligncenter" width="533"] City Palace Museum, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_463" align="aligncenter" width="533"] City Palace Museum, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_464" align="aligncenter" width="545"] City Palace Museum, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_465" align="aligncenter" width="533"] City Palace Museum, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_466" align="aligncenter" width="533"] City Palace Museum, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_467" align="aligncenter" width="533"] City Palace Museum, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_468" align="aligncenter" width="533"] City Palace Museum, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_469" align="aligncenter" width="533"] City Palace Museum, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_470" align="aligncenter" width="545"] City Palace Museum, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_471" align="aligncenter" width="533"] City Palace Museum, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_472" align="aligncenter" width="533"] City Palace Museum, Udaipur.
City Palace Museum, Udaipur.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_474" align="aligncenter" width="533"] City Palace, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_484" align="aligncenter" width="545"] City Palace Gate, Udaipur.[/caption]

For the next day we do one of the small boat trips on the Lake and visit Jagmandir Island, We also get a good look around Jagniwas Island, the location for the floating palace on the James Bond Octopussy movie. We decide to take it easy for the rest of the day while recovering more from our bacterial attack up on the roof terrace of our hotel and arrange a walking tour with a British-run resort just outside of Udaipur for our last full day.

[caption id="attachment_475" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Jagdish Temple, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_476" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Jagdish Temple, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_477" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Jagdish Temple, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_478" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Lake Palace (Jagniwas Island), Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_479" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Jagmandir Island, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_480" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Jagmandir Island, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_481" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Jagmandir Island, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_482" align="aligncenter" width="462"] Jagmandir Island, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_483" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Jagmandir Island, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_485" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_486" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_487" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_488" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Diwali celebrations, Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_489" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Udaipur.[/caption]

The trek starts early, and unfortunately Hannah is not feeling up for the trek and decides to stay back at the hotel while I go for the five-six hour excursion out in the countryside. We visit a cave-temple and enjoy a cup of chai with the guru, and also go through a village and meet some of the local people on our way. It's so refreshing to get out in the countryside and see how green and lush it can be. Also notice the air is much cleaner and less dust has been kicked up in the air. It's the morning after the main Diwali celebrations and apparently the "Day Of The Cow" so we find the cows and oxen, and even some goats, have been decorated with paint and headgear. After a few hours walking about we get served an excellent lunch with lovely home-made lemonade - just the ticket after a walk in the hot sun.

[caption id="attachment_490" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Trekking in the countryside outside Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_491" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Trekking in the countryside outside Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_492" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Trekking in the countryside outside Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_493" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Trekking in the countryside outside Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_494" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Cave temple outside Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_495" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Cave temple outside Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_496" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Cave temple outside Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_497" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Cave temple outside Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_498" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Having chai with the guru of a cave temple outside Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_499" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Villagers decorating their animals for "Day Of The Cow", Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_509" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Villagers decorating their animals for "Day Of The Cow", Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_501" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Freshly decorated animals for "Day Of The Cow", Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_502" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Trekking in the countryside outside Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_503" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Freshly decorated animals for "Day Of The Cow", Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_504" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Trekking in the countryside outside Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_505" align="aligncenter" width="545"] Trekking in the countryside outside Udaipur.[/caption]

Later in the evening after returning from the trek we head down to the railway station to book tickets to go to Mumbai. Here we discover that the RTDC office is located there - very far from where their website informed us... We manage to get a 2nd class 3tier non a/c sleeper for going to Mumbai - a 17 hour journey for a mere four pounds - bargain!

[caption id="attachment_506" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Hannah getting Henna done in Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_507" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Hannah getting Henna done in Udaipur.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_508" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Hannah getting Henna done in Udaipur.[/caption]

We spend most of our day, before taking the train, up on the hotel roof terrace updating our blogs and generally relaxing. We head off to the train station in good time and manage to get a bargain deal with a tuk-tuk to take us all the way there. When we get to see the outside of our train carriage we start to get our usual worry about how this journey will go - it looks from the outside more like a prison-transport than a comfy train...