So what happens when:
(a) it’s been over a month since you’ve returned back to your home city after seven months of being away for first time ever, so
(b) want to stay low until you’ve navigated the freelance world, but
(c) you suffer from chronic itchy feet syndrome that leaves you feeling like a fish out of water, and
(d) a friend casually mentions they would love a getaway?
The Universe conspires. That’s what happens.
Or at least that’s what happened to me. Even though it seems as if I conspired with the Universe to
(a) make Rajasthan happen
(b) on budget!
The interlude between planning and execution? A mere two weeks.
|Arches leading to sit-outs add to the grandeur of many structures all over Rajasthan|
Until last week, I’d been to Udaipur just once before and had stayed there no more than a day. It was a stopover (almost) from Mount Abu to Jaipur. This was 12 years ago! As I write this post, it strikes me odd that what I faintly remember about Udaipur from then was what I found endearing about it even now. It lets you be.
The City of Lakes is also nicknamed the Venice of the East and rightfully so – it comprises of 10 lakes in all. We thought it wise to spend our time in the old part of the city with its ‘ghats’, the flight of steps leading down to the lake and its narrow lanes seemingly apt for only those with either two feet, three wheels or four hooves.
|Is it just me or does this look like the Snapchat logo superimposed on Lake Pichola? ;)|
Three days are sufficient. Though, ideally speaking given its laid-back vibe and thoughtful pace around things, a week is just perfect for rejuvenation. There are temples, palaces and forts to choose from if you’re wondering how you want to spend your time.
Of these, the City Palace (for its exquisiteness), Bagore Ki Haveli (for its enamouring cultural program in the evening) and Kumbhalgarh Fort on the outskirts of the city (for its sheer expansiveness) are experiences that I enjoyed. Sajjangarh or Monsoon Palace was visited during the day and besides offering you an elevated view of the city, it has little else to offer. It is said that the view looks even more spectacular at sunset, though.
|The City Palace, Udaipur|
|The City Palace, Udaipur|
|Kumbhalgarh Fort. Photo courtesy my friend.|
The city seems to favour those who prefer bi-pedal locomotion. So if you belong to the tribe, you’ll realise that there’s no better way to experience the city. Try as you might, you won’t get lost in the interconnectedness of the lanes and by lanes. Don’t be surprised either if you find you are smiling to yourself because you revelled in it!
Cafes, kirana shops aka the mom-and-pop-stores and the extremely conspicuous trinkets and leather shops line up the streets no matter where you are.
|Streets of Udaipur|
It is Udaipur’s fixation with rooftop restaurants (gorgeous as they are as they overlook Lake Pichola) that I haven’t been able to crack though! These are where I would spend my afternoons and sometimes evenings enjoying the calm as my pen ran amok fuelled by the thoughts in my head.
September isn’t too bad to be in Udaipur. May be it’s the proximity to the water bodies. Because in comparison, Ajmer and Pushkar were incineratingly hot when we got there 3 days later!
I will be honest – I was surprised by Pushkar. It is a world in itself and has a life of its own that isn’t easy to gauge at the outset. But you must take a walk around the markets and go down to Pushkar Sarovar to feel the pulse of the town. And just as I was surprised, I was also mildly disappointed – in the same way I have been in north Goa or Manali and more recently in Leh city for instance. Places seem to lose their identity when they give in to tourism at another extreme, I guess.
|Streets of Pushkar. This was at a facility that teaches yoga|
|Some photographs need no caption|
|At the steps of the Pushkar Sarovar|
The distance between Ajmer to Pushkar is a mere 15 kilometers and takes you no more than 45 minutes. A visit to the Ajmer Dargah Sharif was imminent more out of curiosity around all things god rather than faith. And in comparison to what I had read and been told about crowds, I was not particularly overwhelmed with the throngs.
The pre-read did come in handy though – we carried no bags, no belongings with us, except my wallet and our mobile phones. But we did have to leave our footwear on the outside and in exchange for their safe keeping, buy our offerings for the shrine! Of this too I’d been forewarned. I have of course also had chance encounters with god previously and know better now what to expect!
The highlight of this trip were the properties we stayed at. Aashiya Haveli that overlooks Lake Pichola in Udaipur, is a family run property that has been converted into a heritage homestay. In spite of its location at the heart of the old city, it is very peaceful and at close proximity (walking distance) from most of the local sights!
Inn Seventh Heaven on the other hand in Pushkar is an old haveli that has been restored and converted into a hotel in a very elaborate manner. Not until have you set foot in, do you realise what lies ahead. It is the quite the oasis in the desert.
|Aashiya Haveli, Udaipur|
|Inn Seventh Heaven, Pushkar|
Travel was managed by train to the central places and by a private vehicle to sites like Kumbhalgarh Fort and Ajmer Dargah Sharif.
My highlight: Being able to walk around Udaipur city at my own pace and managing the travel within INR 10,000.
My low point: Accidentally deleting over 300 photographs while trying to get rid of the not so great ones from the camera.
|Hers were the photographs I was deleting when The Accident occurred :(|