Udaipur, Rajasthan – The City of Lakes
After almost 2 weeks of traveling in Rajasthan, we decided to have a change of scenery from the desert and forts in Jaipur and ventured out. Having been familiar with nicknames given to cities; let me give you Udaipur. Referred to as the “Venice of the East”, the “Most Romantic City of India” and the “Kashmir of Rajasthan” (a reference to Dal Lake), we were interested in what it had to offer.
We took the Gwalior-Udaipur Express which leaves at 10:30 PM. It was a long 12 hours overnight journey similar to what we did from New Delhi to Jodhpur. We got to Udaipur at around 6 in the morning. Then we took the rickshaw to our hotel. Our hotel had a good view of Lake Pichola. It was pretty!
Udaipur has five major lakes; three of them are interconnected within the town. Along with forts, palaces, temples, gardens and mountains; this enchanting old and modern town was pretty charming. Some people might be familiar with its sights because they have been backdrops for numerous Hollywood and Bollywood movies including one of my favorites, “The Fall’ and the James Bond flick “Octopussy”. They even have everyday showing of that movie around the town.
After having the best muesli I ever had, we decided to explore the city. From our hotel, there were numerous shops that sell handmade leather bags and accessories. It looked like another shopping haven. Our first stop was the City Palace. It is a massive series of palaces built at different times. It provides a panoramic view of the Lake Palace Hotel (Jag Niwas). We had to pay a small fee for the entrance. However, as what we’ve realized, we often have to pay for our cameras. They’re expensive! So we didn’t bother bringing our cameras inside the palace. There were a series of courtyards and terraces inside. Most of them have intricate designs and we saw a series of wall paintings. It also has many antique articles, paintings and decorative furniture. After about an hour of sightseeing, we went back to our hotel for lunch.
In the afternoon, we were lucky to have been able to witness a parade. They were celebrating the Mewar Festival. It is celebrated to welcome the arrival of spring in Udaipur. Women wearing beautiful saris were carrying images of gods and goddesses. They came in a procession passing through different parts of the city. Some had bands with them too. They all congregated near the lake and then said some prayers. After that, the images were transported into special boats and immersed in the deep waters of the lake. The local markets and shops beautified their frontage with lights and decorations. It is also a festival especially meant for women because they get to dress up in their finest clothes.
It was M’s birthday too. So, we decided to have dinner at one of the rooftop restaurants near our hotel. The view of the Lake Palace at night was lovely. With good food and great company, it was an fantastic end to our day.