Udaipur is oozed charm and I found it delightful. The streets maze through the city, towering buildings blotting out the sun. We found a gorgeous guesthouse, a new friend at the shop next door, and a good pace of life. I loved it enough to spend several extra days in the city, spending a week to relax, eat, and enjoy. It’s also been an effective way to both cut the travel fatigue and to keep a low budget. It’s the transportation and travel days adding extra costs. Although, I also admit that the dollar is quite strong, so even on a splurge day I am often below my anticipated budget. I know that will change when I reach places with the larger tourist attractions — the Taj Mahal and the Golden Temple — but right now the focus is on soaking in Indian food, culture, and the pace of life.
The hotels here sport gorgeous rooftop restaurants. It’s a city with a lake, and that makes for prime sunrise, sunset viewings, and afternoons on the patio with a lassi and a breeze. There are three main palaces here too, each one interesting with a stor and history: Lake Palace, City Palace and Monsoon Palace.
The Lake Palace, as the name would suggest is the palace surrounded by Udaipur’s partly natural, partly man-made Lake Pichola. Although you can take a boat out to the Lake Palace Hotel, the lake was low since it’s the tail end of India’s dry season. Instead, my cousin and I chose a new restaurant each night and watched the moon rise over the lake and Palace while we gorged on the flavorful spread of Indian dishes.
The town is beautiful. I’m not on a high budget for this trip, but in Udaipur there are no bad views. Every window of the hotel, the restaurants, the shops — they afford the chance to gaze at mountains, lake, and palaces. It’s stunning and I understood quickly why every rooftop functions as a restaurant, cafe, or hotel. Udaipur is a place where you want to linger and soak in the atmosphere.
The City Palace sits on the edge of Lake Pichola, it’s the largest palace in Rajasthan, which is India’s arguably most tourism-heavy one of the states. The City Palace museum is interesting too, and I don’t usually love museums. My cousin and I considered saving the 100 rupee entry fee and skipping the museum, but that would have been silly. Both of us were happy to have spent the $2 fee to see everything up close and learn more about the city’s history.
Plus, the views of the Lake Palace and two islands in the lake is beautiful from this spot — dozens of terraces and cupolas within the palace offer views of the surrounding mountains and palaces. I ended up taking way more pictures than I had anticipated, and I enjoyed it more than I anticipated as well!
The museum showcases some of the oddest and random arrangements of well, stuff. From a room highlighting olden-time fans (this picture is for my dad since he collects and restores antique fans!) to a peek into the old-style throne-room, it was bizarre. The peacock is the state bird of Rajasthan; dozens of intricate peacock mosaics adorned the structure.
With two of the three palaces explored, my cousin and I packed a few snacks and used a rickshaw for the 30 minute ride to the Monsoon Palace. The thing is, the Monsoon Palace is nothing to write home about in and of itself — when I visited in 2009, the state government was still restoring the palace. It was empty inside, which has me curious about what it will become. But! The Monsoon Palace is built on a mountain, and views of Udaipur on one side and the rolling hills and mountains on the other. Locals had advised that we stay for sunset, so we had packed a few snacks for primo seats and views.
The Monsoon Palace was peaceful. It was a lovely way to end our visit to Udaipur. And even though a dozen or so other tourists had the same idea, everyone was there to relax. It’s a quiet, tranquil setting. One Indian man near my perch meditated on a ledge for the 45 minutes before sunset.
Once the sun dipped over the horizon, we used our waiting rickshaw for a moonlit dinner on the lake. After the frenetic pace of India in my first days in Mumbai and Ahmedabad, life is pretty darn good right now. I always try to remember how lucky I am to have online work that has allowed me to take this trip. It’s a charmed life, and one I am grateful for every day. :)
This short video shows the local temple playing the call to prayer — it happens several times a day, every day:
Reading: Alchemy of Desire by Tarun J Tejpal
Music: Mama Mia Soundtrack
Next step: Leaving soon for Kathmandu!