Edit Blog Post
Published: August 14th 2018
After Jaipur, I got up at the crack of dawn again (well before the dawn really, if was still dark out!) And took my very first Uber to the train station. This was alot smaller than Delhi but somehow much harder to navigate. After 20 mins of searching, I finally found my train hidden awayl on a platform far down the tracks from the main station. How bizarre! Thinking it was another 5ish hours journey, I was a little shocked to realise it was actually over 7! But the 7 hours flew by: there was no food or chai on this journey but there were lots of green grassland, hills and people tending to the land by hand. Back-breaking work in this heat I imagine!
I arrived in Udaipur in the early afternoon and took a tuk tuk to the hostel I had booked. This would have been find had the two guys not taken me to a ghat (a kind of pier) where they wanted to drop me in the middle of no where. It would have also been ok had there not been several other men there all surprised by the foreigner and crowded round – not the
best situation to find myself in! Needless to say I did not leave this tuk tuk and many words later I ended up at the hostel and walking in I quickly decided I was not staying there so walked straight back out again. A quick look online later and I found a beautiful guesthouse in the middle of the old town run by a traditional Indian family. They were lovely and really looked after me.
Udaipur is one of my favourite places in India so far (I know I haven’t been to many!). It’s a small city by Indian standards but a huge one compared to the ones in the UK. I didn’t venture into the city itself, instead I stayed in the old town bit which was beautiful. Known as 'The Venice of India' for its big lake surrounded by mountains, the old town is full of cobbled streets, cows, horses, cafes and little shrines and temples hidden everywhere, it was just hippy like and gorgeous. The lake itself was lovely (similar to West Lake in Hangzhou but I think that still wins the beauty award!) but has become incredibly commercialised with the old Raj buildings on the
two islands being converted into high end hotels and therefore inaccessible to Joe public.
As soon as I arrived in Udaipur, the monsoon rains hit and so I didn’t do alot apart from quickly buy an umbrella that I had to be taught how to use (it was complicated!) And seek shelter in a cafe that did amazing brownie cakes. I was chatting to the family who ran it when there was suddenly a commotion outside – a tv crew were in the shop opposite filming part of a famous sitcom. The brownie was too good to warrant leaving it to see if they needed any 'extras'!
Day 2 and it was still raining! I remember the monsoons from China and the literally days of constant rainfall so I decided there was nothing for it but to venture out with the umbrella. I started off with a wander through the narrow lanes looking at the different shops. You can’t just browse here; any interest in a shop leads to the owners dragging you inside to look at all their wares. They’re icredibly proud of their shops and want to show them off – I learnt that the easiest
way to get away is to go jn, have a quick look then leave. Just walking past without going in tends to lead to being chased down the street. The shops themselves sold the usual trousers, leather books and bags, trinkets, silver and gold products and a smattering of artists and their paintings that Udaipur is apparently famous for. It was walking around here that I found a temple and upon venturing in, found many people sitting on the floor chanting and doing some sort of blessing - the noise was amazing. Such a good find!
After this quick detour I went to the City Palace. Wikipedia tells me that it took 400 years to build and is home to several palaces within a palaces making it the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. It’s been home to several rulers and is now the home of the Mewar dynasty. It’s also been used as a setting in the Bond film Octopussy as it’s situated on the shores of Lake Pichola. History aside, the palace complex was beautiful – lots of glass and emeralds were used and many of the rooms were similar now to how they would have been then.
The views over the lake on one side and city on the other were also stunning. After this, I decided to head to a cable car that would take me to the top of one of the hills overlooking the city. The 20 minute walk took 2 hours as I got lost in a park and so I arrived at the cable station rather wet and tired! The views from the top were amazing – the rain has stopped and the clouds/pollution had started to clear so I could see all over the lake and down towards the old town. It was totally worth it! Even if the constant conversations with the locals and requests for selfies did get a bit much after a while! Dinner was at a beautiful roof top restaurant next to the lake and home to the best naan bread I’ve had so far!
I didn’t so much for the rest of my time in Udaipur thanks to a case of Delhi Belly (I’m impressed I managed a week without getting it!). So I spent my time browsing the shops, avoiding the cows and hanging out in cafes. I went into one place selling cushion
covers and was talking to the owner who showed me his letter of invitation to move to Virginia, USA. It sounded like someone had visited his shop one day and decided to help him set up an export/move to the USA. It's amazing how kind some people are! I also went to a shop with the famous Rajasthan paintings and was talking to the owner who showed me newspaper clippings and pictures of him running artist workshops for Cardiff Met uni students. As we were talking he said he wanted to make me a surprise. Now I'm also very suspicious of people who say things like this but he painted me a purple peacock (a symbol of happiness here) and wrote my name on a grain of rice and stuck it onto the paper - it's a beautiful momento! He paints using a magnifying glass and small dots so it was really interesting to watch him work. I did decide to try and eat a big dinner on my final night knowing I had a 6am bus to Jodhpur and so breakfast might not happen. I looked at Trip Advisor and, following the recommendations, went to a lovely restaurant in
the centre of the town which apparent does the best Thali – small bowls of different Indian dishes served with rice and naan. The best part is you can eat unlimited amounts as the bowls just keep being refilled! I also bumped into an Israeli couple I’d met on the train from Jaipur and so had dinner with them.
Next stop- Jodhpur. Apparently the name for the riding trousers comes from this place!
Tot: 2.457s; Tpl: 0.076s; cc: 7; qc: 44; dbt: 0.0356s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 4;
; mem: 1.4mb