Friday 4 November 2011

Udaipur - Part 1

My parents were here for Deepavali so the enthusiasm levels got notched up a little higher. Diwali with kids is always fun, add family to the mix and we want to do so much more. The condominium association here held their annual Diwali Mela a couple of weeks before Diwali itself. Lots of stalls including food stalls, a ferris wheel and merry-go-round installed in the lawns, a makeshift dance floor with DJ and horse-drawn buggy rides all around the complex -  the children, not just mine but all of them, had a blast. Last year, in our Noida complex, there was a caparisoned elephant doing the rounds and taking children and adults for rides and I wondered at the lavishness and expense of it all. This year, I left my wallet at home, partook the Idli and chutney-sambar from the stall put up by some friends and watched my kids dancing.
Amma made almond burfi and bakshanams which almost got depleted the same day! She created a kolam and the kids and I lit diyas on Choti Diwali. Sparklers, flowerpots and ground-chakrams were duly bought and used that same evening. We were one of the few families bursting crackers that evening because we would not be there for the big event the next day. On Diwali day, we left to catch the train to Udaipur in the evening. The highlight of the overnight journey was a small mouse which woke me up in the 2nd tier AC compartment, nibbling away inside our bag containing food and snacks!! Terrified me didn't even think of waking up S, who would have assured me that the mouse would have no designs on me and Y and would have promptly gone back to sleep! Instead I woke up my parents and asked my dad to get rid of the mouse, which he did successfully. Needless to say, the thought of the mouse coming back kept me up for the latter part of the night journey and apparently my dad also spent the rest of the night swatting away flying cockroaches! Such is the state of our Railways, never mind if you pay through the nose for a 2nd tier AC berth. Maintaining basic cleanliness is obviously not a given.
Udaipur is very different from Jaipur, the only other Rajasthani city I have visited. There are 6 large lakes in and around the city (2 artificial ones watering the city themselves, the Pichola lake and Fateh Sagar lake). The lakes are large and for the most part, very clean. Havelis and palaces abound on the lakefronts (prime property!) and it is a common sight to see women washing clothes on the steps near the lake. We stayed in a very nice place, the erstwhile urban residence of a minor princeling which has now been converted into a heritage hotel run by the family themselves.
This is the hotel courtyard. I specifically asked for ground floor rooms because my parents were accompanying us. We still had to climb 3 flights of steep stairs to reach the restaurant at the rooftop.

The lovely picture window outside our room.

Our room, the windows at the far end open out to the lake :)

The day we arrived, we walked to the city palace, just a 10 min walk from our hotel. The roads are incredibly narrow and some are very steep since the city is built on undulating terrain. So walking even at a slow pace can be stressful to the joints, especially for young children and seniors. However, ever so often you come across a treat like wall paintings and a pretty door :)

The City palace is stunning. A portion of it is retained by the royal family as private quarters and a further large portion have been converted into 2 heritage hotels. Our guide provided us several interesting nuggets of information about the founding of the city, the Royal family with special emphasis on Rana Pratap, his tiffs with the Mughals and the battle of Haldighati. One of the contributions of the Mewar school to Indian art are miniatures which are forerunners of video, in a sense. The same painting will depict a continuing story - for example, the guide asked Ads how many bears were there in a picture (we saw 6) called "Maharaja shooting a bear". All of us answered "6 bears" but the correct answer was '1 bear" because the picture showed the entire sequence of events - the bear under a tree, running out, being shot, etc etc.
Other popular tourist spots in Udaipur include the Rana Pratap memorial and enjoying an evening sunset cruise around the lake. Our rooms had a fantastic view of the Lake Palace (a Taj property) - very picture-postcard. The Aravallis are in the background.
I'll stop this post here now since it's already a lot longer than a I like! More Udaipur snapshots coming up :)


  1. have been visiting such picturesque locales of late..
    @ the mouse hubby's reaction would have been the same as S's. I would have been equally horrified!
    Pics are just awesome..esp the last with the Aravalli backdrop. Waiting for the rest of the parts.

  2. That sounds like such a fun vacation! And with parents in tow, what more can you ask for :)

    Mouse in the train! Wow! I would have jumped a mile - can't stand mice :(

    Udaipur sounds fascinating! One day, I will go there. And your hotel looks so nice! It must have been nice to stay in a palace!

    There is so much in India, that I have yet to see! Hopefully next year when we return, we will be able to see India properly.

  3. Wishing Yukta a very happy birthday!
    couldn't locate your email id, hence using this space..

  4. Lovely descriptive post Aparna.. I've seen precious little of Rajasthan considering I studied there for 4 years :). Only Jaipur and that too a rushed trip so I definitely have to do it again. Hoping to do a vacation there in the coming years - your posts will definitely be references :).

    Sad to hear about the state of the A/C coach. My dad is a retired Railwayman, and when I was studying and traveling often I somehow never noticed any of this, maybe things were better maintained then. A few years back when I travelled to Kerala from Bangalore I had a similar experience with cockroaches - think D was about 2 years old, and I didn't sleep all light worrying that something would crawl into her ear :(.

  5. Forgot to mention - love the new photo in your header!
    And Happy Birthday to Yukta too :)

  6. Thanks all for the birthday wishes! Glad you liked the udaipur post too. Rajasthan"s only problem is that it gets very overwhelming if you do it all in one shot. People who do the whole state tour - jaipur-udaipur-jodhpur-bikaner-jaisalmer need some time to recover and never want to see another fort or place in their lifetime!!! :)

  7. Aparna,
    Loved the pics. Especially the head mast photo - of your kiddos sitting together facing the balcony flooded in sunlight!
    As I had replied to you on your comment that you left on my blog - its a coincidence that my close families visited the places that you have visited last month - first Amritsar and then Udaipur!
    Looking at your pics and theirs, I am pining to go too. But, we've had our share of travel recently. So , may be next year sometime.
    We went to Dharamsala during Diwali and it was beautiful to. Divine infact.

    You mentioned about your Kolu. I love this tradition from the South. We don't do this but I am so inclined to make this our family tradition starting next year!


I would love to hear your thoughts :)