Edit Blog Post
Published: February 15th 2011
Once again, I was caught with plane delays, so I’m certainly managing to catch up on my reading. Finally reached my destination early evening, and was pleasantly surprised to find accomodation was in another ex-palace, the Rangniwas Palace Hotel, albeit not quite as flash (or to be fair, as expensive) as that in Jaipur.
Udaipur, the capital of the former princely state of Mewar, is famous for its lakes and palaces. With its three interconnecting lakes, it has been referred to as ‘The Venice of the East’, the ‘Kashmir of Rajasthan’ (a reference to the famed Dal Lake in Srinigar) and the ‘Romantic City’ of India. Its old city is much smaller and more compact than Jaipur, and also pretty hilly despite basically bordering the main lake (Lake Pichhola). As such, it was pretty easy just to stroll around, although the very narrow streets meant you had to be constantly weaving in and out of the traffic – but more on that later. There were three main highlights there for me – the City Palace, which is the town’s showpiece, and sits atop a small hill with a great view of the old city, the lake and the surrounding areas;
the Jagdish Temple, which is situated right at the heart of the old city and was where you got your bearings as you strolled around; and a boat trip on the lake taking in the impressive Palace Hotel (not available for visits) on Jagniwas Island, and the lesser (but more accessible) Jagmandir Island. Late in the day, I took an autorickshaw up a huge hill about 10km out of the city and took in a great sunset, which unfortunately my photography skills couldn't show you here.
Transport problems in India are legendary, and I saw two good illustrations of this in my short time in Udaipur. By way of background, the streets of the old city (or should I call them ‘alleyways’!) are extremely narrow, such that at times, two small cars cannot even pass by each other, and certainly any minibuses will take up the whole road. There seem to be only two unwritten rules of the road – keep roughly to the left, and ‘might is right’. Oh yes, and go as fast as you possibly can! So these are the incidents:
1. We came across a three-way intersection, at which two minibuses and a car
met simultaneously from differing directions at the intersection point. In the couple of minutes it took to work out there was a problem, dozens of vehicles of all types (cars, autorickshaws, motorbikes etc) had piled up behind each of these, so there was no opportunity for any of them to reverse to give one of the others right of way. Immediately, those drivers that are held up behind these become instant traffic cops, giving everyone instructions (often in conflict with each other). But every time they were successful in getting one of the three vehicles to reverse even a few feet to allow some room for manoeuvring, that gap was immediately filled by as many motorbikes or auto rickshaws from behind that could fill this gap. Courtesy for your fellow travellers is not a key philosophy for Indian drivers! This incident took more than 15 minutes to clear.
2. Later in the day, we noticed that a car had broken down on a narrow section of the road. While there was enough room for cars to pass in the opposite direction, there was a constant stream of cars going in that direction, such that there were no breaks for
the cars behind the stranded car to move around. So, do they take it in turn to move around the stranded car, or allow a few cars in each direction to pass at a time? No way, all the vehicles travelling in the opposite direction ploughed forward, and those caught behind could please themselves. At the time of writing this blog, I understand those cars are still stranded there, waiting for a break in the traffic!
That said, Udaipur was an enjoyable stop (despite the lack of romance!), and while hectic, had a different feel to it from the earlier old city areas of Varanasi and Jaipur. From here, I’m heading further out west towards Jodhpur (the ‘blue city’) and the desert area close to the Pakistani border.
Tot: 0.224s; Tpl: 0.019s; cc: 20; qc: 97; dbt: 0.0275s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb