The owner of Lotus Café was beaming as he showed me the name of his unassuming café in Lonely Planet. While Indian Ocean was crooning through Kandisa, the courteous Gokul handed me a map of the city, and marked which of the spots I should hit for photography.
The sun was right above, and I needed a rest. I rode on through the busy Bhatiani Chohatta to my hotel. The hotel, as many in Udaipur, is a revamped version of a 300 year old house. While the façade is impressive and part of a palatial structure reminding one of the Mewari past, the inside houses a hookah bar, café and a continental restaurant, much in tune to the current times.
The afternoon light was gleaming on the razzmatazz of colorful items on display on either side of the road. Handicraft, one of the few industries of Rajasthan, is famous and attracts travelers of all kinds. Ornaments, Bags made from camel leather, t-shirts, glasswork, the diasporas of colors is evident everywhere. Houses are blue, some pink, and some bright orange; add a stark contrast to the rough and dry terrain of Rajasthan. And boy, they pose a pretty picture. Summer is the off-season in this beautiful part of India, with only a handful of foreigners brave (or clever?) enough to beat the heat. As I roamed through the capillaries of the busy market, I couldn’t ignore how much the place is set up for people from abroad, French, Spanish, English, German, and Latin American, you name it.
I like the foreign travelers; first, they don’t litter around, and more importantly, they come to experience India in all its colors and flavors, something many of us don’t have the patience and will to do.
The Udaipur Palace, in its own way is an architectural marvel of some note, with huge arches, a big courtyard, and lovely paintings on walls, doors. On the bank of Lake Pichhola, the palace poignantly holds the grandeur of the Mewar dynasty. Most of this impressive structure is converted into swanky starred hotels; luxurious, Indian, which can make you live like a King, at a healthy cost of course.
Bats - this winged mammal is often associated with a sense of eeriness. Thousands of them, hanging by the trees, are quite a sight. Rendered homeless from the palace, families of Indian Flying Fox or Fruit Bat have made the garden their refuge. The sun was setting as I left the place, and the bats were becoming more active and vocal, it’s the start of their day.
Passing through two pols (gates) of the bustling city, I reached the entry gate for Sajjangarh, the monsoon palace. Sitting handsomely atop a hill like an ancient guardian, the road to it is a nice drive through a wildlife park. It’s quite evident that this palace does not have the grandeur as the City Palace. Still, nestled among the hills, it’s a nice hideout to enjoy the view, and silence.
Its 4:00 as I opened the huge 20 feet door of my hotel and started my journey back. Too early to get a cup of tea, a cigarette works wonders to take the remnants of sleep away. The cool breeze is refreshing, the thump from my bullet is assuring, as I rode along the meandering highway. Around me, the dark silhouettes of the hills of Udaipur gradually gave way to plain land.