Udaipur City – Solo Backpacker in Venice of the east
Udaipur is the place which i wanted to emboss so badly in my travel diary because of the hype created by every traveler traveling to Rajasthan. I actually wanted to see if there is anything else besides being the city of palaces, forts and Royals! This time i decided to go as a solo backpacker as i wanted to pay attention to every infinitesimal detail on the way instead of being distracted.
There are multiple buses and train running from Jaipur or Delhi to Udaipur. I decided to go by bus which is a decent option considering the luxurious Volvo option and not one of those roadways express buses with rigid suspensions. My bus was at 11:00 PM at night, which in turn gave me plenty of time to enjoy the late night delicacies near the bus stand. Nothing better than a well cooked/Baked chicken in the dinner, this was the courtesy of newly opened joint by the name of “Taxi Chicken”. The quest to find the best Tandoori chicken led me to this small place. And I was not disappointed. This is probably the only Dhaba that serves coleslaw as an accompaniment. Smart!! I usually do not eat anything throughout the day but stuff myself at night with anything that comes my way during dinner. Tandoori Chicken to begin with…very tender and juicy…served on a sizzler plate…was enough to turn me into a werewolf. Absolutely delicious!! Although the mint chutney could have been a little thicker.
Finishing the snacks, I ordered for Chicken Maharaja and Chapatis and to finish the mid night meal i ordered for Ghamandi Lassi. It’s about time people understand that a true lassi has generous amount of Malai on the top. Taxi…remember that! As far as Roasted chicken goes…I am sold people.
After a delicious dinner i headed inside the terminal to board my bus. It’s a 8 hour journey to Udaipur from Jaipur, i would suggest to take a night bus and reach early morning to avoid time loss and also not being hassled by the gunrunning traffic of the day time. I reached Udaipur early in the morning at 8:00 AM. Unlike any bus stand this is no exception, auto driver will gun towards you in attempt to rip you off. Don’t bother much take your time and do not board the auto from inside the bus terminal. I already booked my hotel from GOIBIBO, so did not wander much and went straight to the hotel. Hotel Hanuman Ghat is located in the quieter area of Udaipur (compared to Lal Ghat) just adjacent to the foot bridge. The view from the room is lovely with city palace in sight. The roof top restaurant is amazing with delicious food and free WiFi. If you are making a week’s plan or more i would prefer to take this hotel as priority option as it’s incredibly cheap. (Costed me INR 150.00 for a night including breakfast) How? Post a comment and i will let you know.
I dozed off for couple of hours to shed my tiredness and woke up looking at a beautiful Fateh Sagar Lake lake and city palace shining right in front of me. i did not wanted to waste time, so got out of the bed took shower and was standing right in the middle of the street in front of my hotel. Streets here ain’t that wide, it’s basically the old Udaipur which i stumbled upon. The look however is retro, and wall paintings are a lot common to see here.
My first trip stop was at City Palace. Moulded with exotic ingenuity, City Palace is a rich blend of Rajasthani and European architectural dexterity, which when entered, one can forget all his solace and wreath himself with bounties of the scenario. This majestic palace is located on the banks of serene Lake Pichola and provides a panoramic and breathtaking view of the city from its upper terraces. This majestic palace was built by Maharana Udai Singh II of Sisodia Rajput clan in 1559 and his successor Maharanas (76 generations) over a period of next 300 years. It comprises of 11 magnificent palaces, each built by 42 different rulers retaining a surprising uniformity to the design and is considered as largest palace complex in Rajasthan and is replete with history. It is often considered as ‘city within a city’. The palace is opened to the public as the City Palace Museum. This is done in order to generate income so as to maintain the building. Now the ticket here is costly 250 INR, another 250 in case you want to carry a camera. I wasn’t missing the fun of capturing the Palace, even though it might come out as the most expensive part of my trip.
Now the palace is divided into a lot of different parts. (The exact narration by the guide of City Palace is as mentioned)
The ‘Bari Poli’ or the big gate brings one to the entrance, which is the Tripola. It was custom that the Maharana would weigh himself under this gate in gold and silver, which was appropriated among common public.
‘Suraj Gokhada’ or Sun Balcony is a very famous place where the emblem of Surya Dev, is placed. This emblem is gold plated and is embedded with gems. It represents that the Maharanas, the Suryavanshi Rajputs are followers of Surya Dev and it was customary for the Maharanas to offer obeisance to the Sun facing east, every morning before taking breakfast.
‘Badi Mahal’ or the Garden Palace is situated on the highest point of the palace, 27 metres high. It consist of garden courtyard, fountain, swimming pool, which was then used for Holi festival. It is also known as Shiv Parsanna Amar Vilas.
‘Mor Chok’ or Peacock Courtyard forms the integral part of the inner courts. The design of the chamber consists of three peacocks of glass mosaic of green, gold and blue colours, depicting the three seasons of summer, winter and monsoon. These were built during the reign of Maharana Sajjan Singh.
‘Manek Mahal’ is an enclosure for public meetings and has stepped into the modern age now. It has a raised alcove inlaid completely in mirror glass. There are shops of books, clothing as well as Palki Khana restaurant and emporiums for populace. A sound and light show also is also held every evening.
Zenana Mahal, the Queen’s quarters is a part of City Palace Museum. The interesting exhibits of portraits are in display.
Moti Mahal is resplendently decorated with mirrors and pearls. Maharana Rana Karan Singh had private residence in this palace. Bheem Vilas and Pitam Niwas are the two chambers of Moti Mahal.
Situated in the premises of City Place complex, Jagdish Temple is the biggest and most beautiful temple of Udaipur. This temple appeals to the aesthetic sense of the people . It is a large and aesthetically elegant temple where an idol of Lord Jagannath, a manifestation of Lord Vishnu made in black stone is deified in the sanctum. This place is now referred as Jagdish Chowk.
As far a structural integrity & scheduling is concerned, City Palace is one of the best well organized and well managed heritage building in the world. The way inside is guided by sign boards at every corner and gives clear instructions to public. Post my City Palace tour i headed back to my hotel through the narrow roads on old Udaipur City.
Besides the magnificent City Palace, in the heart of Lake Pichola lies the Lake Palace. Situated on the Jag Niwas Island in the middle of Lake Pichola, the Lake Palace is the most compelling and a must visit of Udaipur’s attractions. It was built by Maharana Jagat Singh II almost two and a half centuries ago and is now revered as the Taj Lake Palace, one of the most beautiful and romantic hotels in the world. The Taj Lake Palace is not open to general public, the most you can do is take a jetty and circle around the palace. Only the privilege guest staying inside the palace have access to it. With the Aravalli Hills and city palace as backdrop, the beauty of the Palace and its surroundings is further accentuated. The James Bond film Octopussy was shot in Udaipur. A racy chase sequence with 007 dipping in and out of Udaipur’s maze-like lanes, auto rickshaws and what not, this film stole away many hearts. The Lake Palace Hotel served as the floating palace in the movie.
I retreated back to my hotel post a very tiring sight seeing of Udaipur City. The sun was was about to go down the horizon, which in turn sparked a very trippy ambiance. The view from the rooftop restaurant of my hotel was mesmerizing.
Post delicious dinner which included almost like home cooked food, i went to sleep as the next day was of my return. I wanted to get a bus in the morning so that i could reach Jaipur by evening as my corporate schedule was shouting out loud on me to return to my daily routine. I got up early and headed to bus stand post checkout from the hotel. I decided to have breakfast at the bus stand rather than having in the hotel.
Unlike any bus stand the vicinity is packed with restaurants with cheap delicious street food. After having breakfast i head to the booking counter to board my bus to Jaipur. If you talk about buses, for me there are only two categories of buses, let no one tell you otherwise. It’s either a Volvo or a Standard one. Do not get confused with Normal, deluxe, or semi deluxe. They are all the same..! Unfortunately for me the Volvo was not available, so i decided to go for a deluxe one basis the availability. The ride was more than expected, screwed up suspensions, Pathetic rash driving, Dirty seats and annoying fellow travelers. What more could have i asked?
I was literally cursing and thought of 8 hours frustrating trip to Jaipur. Couple of hours went by and i was started noticing people, most of them were from rural area’s and i was the only tourist there. Grrr… i knew how my time was about to go in that god forsaken bus. We stopped at a mid way and i got down to take a look to find something/someone interesting. Suddenly i stopped by the sound of someone saying “Hello” to me. I turned back and found a guy with a big backpack looking for the bus to go to Ajmer. The only option available was my bus which was going via Ajmer.
He was a fellow backpacker and was traveling all over India. We got into a talking mode and started discussing our travel plans. He was from Hungary, and was in India for the next 4-5 months. I got curious and asked, how did he manged to get a 4-5 months of leave while working. Hungary like any other European country is a beautiful paradise to visit. Caleb works for an agency who were giving services to old people who were bed ridden. (Complete care) The pay was phenomenal and if he wanted to go traveling for few month the agency was courteous enough to pay him the advance salary and also give him leaves for those many months. (Times like these which remind of us still living in a third world country and our labor laws sucks!!!)
He got down at Ajmer and took my card. This trip not only gave a fabulous experience, but also gave me few friends who i will cherish for the rest of my life.
When i reached home i had not clue what to write and from where to begin, i think the most import part was the beginning and the the events got unfolded one after another. With the winters on the door and chilling wind in the atmosphere, the next trip is coming with a lot of unexpected ice.
Until next time.. Adios..!