Falling in Love with Udaipur
I did not expect to be reminded of Venice while travelling in India – but then I visited Udaipur.
Known as the ‘Venice of the East’, ‘The City of Lakes’, and last but not least “The Most Romantic City of India”, it would be hard not to fall instantly in love with beautiful Udaipur.
Surrounded by the wooded Aravalli Hills from every direction, Udaipur is nestled not to Lake Pichola and is filled with countless beautiful palaces, temples, havelis and quaint narrow streets where locals and tourists blend into the scene of wandering cows, coloured ancient bazaars, tempting arts and craft centres and shops while the smell of delicious treats and curry waft through town.
The city was once the centre of the kingdom of Mewar, which is associated with bravery and as one of the most espectable of all Rajput princely states in Rajasthan. The Sisodia dynasty that ruled Mewar for 1200 years claimed to be descendants from the sun (Suryavansha) and is one of the oldest dynasties in the world. The impressive lineage of 67 generations of ruling family members proves just how hard the Sisodia’s fought for their freedom and respect within the country.
There is a legend that the capital of the Sisodia dynasty was moved to Udaipur from Chittor in the 6th century as the Maharana was out hunting one day on a hill overlooking the Lake Pichola when he came across a holy man. This man blessed Maharana and instructed him to built a palace at that very spot, as it would be well protected. The Maharana followed his advice and Udaipur was born.
As soon as my mother and I arrived we fell instantly in love with Udaipur. (Especially after checking into our room with a lakeside view).
After battling our way the hustle and bustle of the more congested city’s of Rajasthan, strolling through the streets of Udaipur was an absolute pleasure.
We spent our first evening getting our curry fix at a local restaurant before we headed to a local temple-housing viewpoint to watch the sunset over the lake. The locals giggled at the funny tourists sitting with their feet dangling in the water and a local man out swimming with a group of grandchildren tried extremely hard to get us to join them in the lake for a swim…
…”Maybe tomorrow sir.”
We finished the night with gin and tonics by the waterfront – absolutely delighted to have discovered such a beautiful corner of India.
The next day we met up with a local guide who took us straight up to the city’s two main attractions.
First was the Jagadish Temple, a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu and built using the beautiful Indo-Aryan architectural style. With walls covered in carvings of Vishnu, scenes from Lord Krishna’s life and figurines of nymphs or apsaras it was a nice spot to start the day. Surrounded by locals going about their morning prayers it showed the even more peaceful side of the city.
Then we visited the City Palace of Udaipur.
The City Palace is made up of a complex of palaces, both small and big, connected by museums and gardens. The architecture of the palace shows an impressive blend of Mughal, Medieval, European and Chinese styles of architecture, from the many era’s of the Sisodia rule.
The palace was originally by Maharana Uday Singh II (after his encounter with the holy man) and rising 30 meters above Lake Pichola it then extends up to 244 meters. The most impressive feature of the palace is that it is built completely using granite and marble. Absolutely stunning from the exterior, the interior does not disappoint either and features a mixture of gorgeous balconies, towers and cupolas exhibits delicate mirror work, marble work, murals, wall paintings, silver work, inlay work, colored glass mosaics and best of all – a fabulous lake view.
After exploring the palace my mother and I headed to a rooftop restaurant for lassi’s before a necessary afternoon-nap during the sweltering hot May afternoon.
That evening we returned to the streets where we admired the locals washing their clothing and themselves in the lake waters, explored some of the more local back streets and headed to another rooftop for a more touristy dinner-with-a-view curry.
The curry ended up being one of the best yet and we enjoyed the luxury of having the entire roof terrace to ourselves… Until it decided to rain – seriously rain.
In a number of seconds from leaving the restaurant we were absolutely drenched.
We ran through the streets with locals laughing at us from every direction, reminding us frequently that “it’s raining!”.
As much as we appreciated the weather small-talk we continued to run past until we plopped back into our hotel.
We may not have gone for a swim in the beautiful lake of Udaipur but we may as well had given how soaked we were by the end of our second day.
Despite the rainy evening Udaipur was still our favourite city in Rajasthan – and maybe the rainy evening before our departure was some representation of the tears we could have shed from having to leave such a beautiful destination…