After waiting for almost 5 hours in Ahmedabad airport, I boarded bus from airport circle to Udaipur at 7.30am. Entire night spent on flight journey and waiting at airport was taking a toll on me and all I did during 6 hours of bus journey was to sleep! The bus stopped for breakfast on the way around 10am and I ate one of the tastiest poha ever!
I had booked my stay at Banjara Hostel for first 3 nights and then Bunkyard for next 2 nights in Udaipur. I checked-in around 2pm, got freshen up, explored the hostel, rooftop restaurant a bit. I had 2 other roommates who had gone out for the day. I was kinda feeling confused that first time completely alone at unknown place not knowing whether I can do this solo trip.
Not sure of where to start with exploring, I slept off for couple of hours, spent rest of the eve at rooftop doing nothing, just gazing at the lake and palace, befriend the waitress Bhoomi who was very sweet and knowing I came solo she helped me with talking to someone to arrange shared cabs for Chittorgarh and Kumbhalgarh.
When I came back to room at night, I met my roomies who were veterinary doctors practicing in Pune. After chatting for sometime, I decided to join them next day for exploring city palace in the first half. Also, the fact that they reminded me of my hostel days, my friends.
Morning after breakfast, the 3 of us set to explore city palace. As the hostel was close to City Palace, we went by walk. My roommates wanted to take a guide, so we opted for a guide tour for 300 Rs. Within 5 mins, we realized the guide was of no use. Thankfully he himself asked another guide to continue with us. The new guide was very funny, talkative, showed off his photography skills proactively which signaled us that he is expecting more tips from us. Obviously we paid good enough tips which caught him by surprise! If you are a history lover, you can spend whole day in city palace. However 2-2.5 hours is sufficient to get soaked yourself in the history of Mewars. Major portion of the City palace is still owned by the royal family and not open to public. Ahh I imagined myself to be part of the royal family :p
As it was last day in Udaipur for my roomies, they decided to spend some time in shopping and other stuffs, I decided come back to hostel to have lunch at rooftop restaurant and relax a bit as it was very hot outside. In the afternoon, I visited Jagdish Temple just a couple of minutes walk from my hostel. There was some other temple procession was happening, I spent some time enjoying the festive atmosphere and huge crowd gathered outside dancing and singing bhajans, lost in devotion.
Later I went to Bhagor ki Haveli for the evening cultural show from 7pm-8pm. Ticket counter opens an hour early around 6pm. There wasn't long queue, so within 10-15 mins I got my ticket. Since there was still time for the show, I went to Gangaur Ghat which is just outside the Haveli. Evenings at Gangaur ghat was peaceful yet beautiful feeling that I experienced when in Udaipur. I was so glad to have booked both of my hostels at such a prime location and close to most of the tourist attractions. I could just travel by walk and whenever I want :) The cultural show included Rajasthani folk dances from various parts and puppet show. For camera, there was additional ticket which I had not bought assuming its only for DSLR. When many people started taking pictures and videos, but not really paid for the camera, the organizers had to announce in the middle of the show to buy tickets and record. Nobody bought tickets, rather stopped taking snaps, after all we are Indians :p I returned to hostel after the show, my hostel rooftop being my latest favorite, I didn't feel like exploring any new restaurant. It offered great views of Lake Pichola, City Palace, Jagdish Temple and Monsoon Palace covering all 3 sides. It had live music and nice crowd to get lost in solitude! Also, people who know me, knows very well that I am not a foodie in first place and I can literally live with water and one time meal in a day :p That's how I save while travelling !!! ;)
Today was the day full of adventures, risks and my soul wandered crazily and freely so much that my heart skipped a beat or two !! I rented a scooter "CliQ" from my hostel for whole day at 300 Rs. I started with Fateh sagar lake. As it was morning time, there wasn't much crowd and no food stalls. It started drizzling while I enjoyed the calmness and beautiful views across the lake. After spending half an hour there, my next stop was at Saheliyon ki Bari. It has a major garden, fountains and small museum. If you have come with family and kids, it's a good place to spend leisurely hours here especially escaping from heat and relax under shadows surrounded with lush green lawns, lotus pool and marble elephants. Coming from garden city, I didn't waste much of my time here because I was eagerly waiting to visit Bahubali Hills!
Bahubali Hills is a viewpoint offers great views of Badi lake with Aravali hills surrouding the place. I had seen amazing pics of this place in instagram and heard a lot about this place from my hostel receptionist. This place had topped my bucket list ! Little did I know that most of the locals either doesn't know about this view point or calls it by some other name. They knew only Badi Lake, not this view point. Google showed a different route than what the locals suggested me assuming that could be Bahubali Hills, so I ended up at Pratap Gaurav Kendra where 50 ft tall Maharana Pratap's statue is there. When I asked at the counter they said it's closed due to some construction work and there is nothing they are aware of Bahubali hills :( I called up my hostel guy to cross verify, he wasn't sure either suggesting me to just visit Badi Lake and return. With much disappointment I drove to Badi Lake. Somewhere on the corner of my heart I still had hopes that I might have searched at wrong places, so thought of exploring little ahead of Badi Lake as showed in Google. The road was patchy or no proper road most of the time, not many travelers on the road, bit far from the city, had to cross small villages. Finally, when I reached the village at the base of the hills, I met couple of locals who suggested me to park the vehicle at a place where few others had parked their vehicle and hike from there. There was an old woman collecting parking fee! When she told me that I am at the right place, I had no bounds to my joys :) I was so excited to reach the top that I literally started running on the muddy, rocky trail not caring about my sandals, scorching hot or few tourists walking down on the way looking at me like I have lost my mind :D It was 2.30 pm and I didn't even carry a water bottle or hadn't have anything after breakfast, driving crazily all the while, disappointment of not finding the viewpoint, all of that disappeared like a passing cloud when I reached the top!!! I was so awestruck by the scenery in front of me that I couldn't let out a WOW for couple of minutes. It was absolutely breathtaking! If I had not followed my gut feeling, I would have missed this GEM of nature! Thanks to me :p There were not many people, hardly any tourists except few local teenagers. I was so lost in its beauty that it took a while to observe my surroundings and to take pics. After spending good amount of time, I started descending to return to the city. Although I very much wanted to witness sunset from this viewpoint, I decided to visit Monsoon Palace for the sunset and it turned out to be a good decision.
All the way on returning to the city, I was so happy that I thought my heart would burst out of happiness :) Next and last stop for the day was Sajjangarh Palace or Monsoon Palace. I had only 100 bucks in my wallet, so was searching for ATM's on the way. Found two and both ran out of cash. I have this habit of travelling without cash many times in Bangalore unplanned though. Hoping I would find ATMs on the way, I kept on driving and reached Sajjangarh entrance where we supposed to buy tickets with only 100 rs in hand. I asked an Auto driver if I can transfer him money through paytm/phonePe etc and he give me cash in return, only to know he didn't have any payment wallets :( I definitely was not ready to go back just because of money, after coming all the way till Sajjangarh. Thankfully the palace entry fee plus parking fee costed me 100 rs. So left with empty wallet I started my ride to the top of the hill and within 2 mins I realized that scooter is in reserve mode :p It was around 4pm, started getting cloudy, no money in wallet, not much fuel in scooter, never drove in curvy roads before, that too all alone, I just wanted to reach the top no matter what! Praying to my gannu on every turn I took, I reached the top and let out a sigh of half relief :D Monsoon Palace is a must visit if you are in Udaipur. It offers panoramic view of Udaipur. Especially in monsoon season, the entire city surrounded with greenery, the view from this hill top gets as amazing as possible. I never imagined Rajasthan to be this green. After exploring the residential palace and surrounding views, finally I rushed to the cafe outside (thanks to digital India, they accepted card :p) to have my lunch at 5.30pm. It was cloudy by now, there was no hope for witnessing a sunset, my mind was constantly reminding me of not having much fuel in scooter so better to leave before it gets too dark and difficult to drive in zig-zag roads, however I didn't want to leave just yet. The panoramic view was so mesmerizing that I just wanted to be there for indefinite time. By 6.30pm I got back to my practical senses and with a mixture of heavy and happy heart I bid good bye and returned back to my hostel. Today was such a fulfilling day for me beyond any measure. As they say "the best surprises comes when you least expect it", it was one such day which I am gonna cherish for the rest of my life <3
When I returned to my room, there was a girl from Spain as my new roomie. Maria was sweet, talkative and friendly, we instantly connected. She not having any fixed plan until then, decided to join me for Chittorgarh and then Jodhpur as well.