After a surprisingly decent flight into town via Mumbai, we arrived in Udaipur. As we were collecting our bags a Belgian couple came over and suggestion we share a taxi into town as there were no busses, so we hopped in with them and off we went.
The drive took us through some very busy streets and after a while dropped us near the Palace in the centre of town, beyond which the taxis aren’t allowed. Our hostel was 10 minutes walk away and when we got there we weren’t particularly impressed. The guy running it couldn’t even suggest anywhere for food, instead saying to go “in that direction”, nor could he be particularly bothered to clean a bathroom it seemed.
The town itself was relatively small, the central part based beside a lake. It is pretty enough to have been in numerous films, including Octopussy and the Best Marigold Hotel 2. Having one of the best hotels in the world (at $2000 per night) also probably helps!
The main attraction is the City Palace, a very large building used by all the old Maharana’s. We did a tour of the palace which was very interesting. Each of the Maharana’s during their reign added a bit to the palace so it became bigger and grander with each leader. The result is an interesting mix of lovely architecture, pretty rooms and big trees growing out of the 4th floor garden.
We also did a boat trip around the main lake (Lake Pichola), which was pleasant if not spectacular. It did offer some great views of the city from the water though. We later walked around some of the lake too, where Claire brutally murdered a young gecko going about his daily business. She claims it ran under her shoe and she didn’t even know it was there until too late, a claim corroborated by her strong desire to find a different route back so as to avoid the scene of the crime!
Near to the Palace, there was a famous temple called Jagdish Temple. We had a walk around it and watched some of the locals in a very loud and active prayer session which was interesting to see. It’s an impressive temple and worth a visit.
The restaurants we found were all pretty similar. but very tasty, especially one of them (Neelam) which did a cheap thali that came with refills and was delicious. We ate a fair few good curries in Udaipur but didn’t find too much at the more authentic end of things.
Most of our time during the days was spent walking around as there was plenty to see beyond the main sites described above. Among the highlights was the incredibly busy shopping streets selling saris, spices, jewellery and a lot of kitchen equipment.
On our final day we visited one of the nearby lakes, which didn’t have a huge amount going for it and then went up to the monsoon palace, a retreat high atop a hill nearby the city. To get there we had to get a taxi and then a jeep up the hill which was a bit of a pain but simple enough.
When we got there, the views were spectacular in every direction. This was fortunate as the Palace itself was essentially just a run down old building with little going for it bar the delightful smell of urine all over the place. I also found some phallicly shaped fencing quite amusing, but was told off for being juvenile.
The evening was spent watching a show of traditional dancing which was really entertaining, especially the comically deadpan puppeteer and the 72 year old dancing with an absurd number of stacked pots on her head. After a final night in our crappy hostel, the staff seemed so surprised when we required change from the money we gave them that I question how often, if ever, people actually stay there.
We liked Udaipur, it was a nice feeling town with some very pretty architecture, nice food and it wasn’t too overly touristy which it could easily have been given it’s small size and level of fame. It’s also interesting beyond the tourist sites when you go out into the more local scene.