Have you ever wondered what makes you tread in the virgin dimensions of a new space ? That blast of curiosity combined with amicable lust of brain and heart in such order that makes us overthrow ourselves in the unknown streets paved with plethora of geometries sprinkled with some lush green vegetation. Exploring and perceiving and feeling the deliciousness of the new. This energy made me drive myself in the labyrinth of old city of Udaipur having such narrow and beautiful streets, buildings of significant historic importance on either side , casting out various planes of boundaries embodying welcome with polite expressions of color. Rohit and I had been thinking of going to Udaipur for some time but never got an opportunity to go and visit the place. But on a fine sunny Friday morning at Ahmedabad something made our energies to transgress the humdrum life of Ahmedabad. Udaipur which is around two hundred kilometers away from Ahmedabad is a beautiful city: only the old city, the new city is just like any another city where major part of the landscape is traffic, people running here and there, the autos and the rickshaws squabbling with each other to decide whose place of inheritance is the particular spot for parking, ubiquitous enough to see the struggle for urban growth.
Our first day began at the Udaipur Bus Terminal which is four to five kilometers away from the old city. We did not have any clothes or toiletries with us because of our spontaneous decision to travel to Udaipur. After getting informed by the conductor about the old city we searched for an autorickshaw for some time and in the end Rohit did find one. One can have a pleasant conversation with an autorichshaw driver regarding the major tourist attractions of the city and about the cheap places to house two students. He brought us to the old city through a circuitous path to the Hotel Lal Ghat contiguous to Picchola Lake. What a site …… (Waaaaow) Picchola lake is one of the most beautiful urban lakes that I have ever seen. It has three to four heritage structures in the lake itself surrounded by water from all sides out of which one is the Taj Lake Palace leased by Taj for 100 years from the Maharaja. There is only one way to enter the hotel which is to go through a boat sent by the respective authorities of the Taj. Second is the abandoned square shaped structure having covered corridors at the perimeter. A square courtyard in the center and a small shed at the midpoint of the fourth side. The corridors were covered with numerous monolithic trees whose seeds must have been brought by the birds through their digestion or through strong winds. Our plans were to open up a Planning cum Architecture office over there once we become individuals of substantial importance to this society and the third one was a distant one and was mostly inhabited by the school children to use it as a summit so that they can dive into the depths of water.
All this could be seen and felt from the terrace of Lal Ghat hotel where we discounted our price down to eight hundred rupees a room for a night during the peak tourist season of Rajasthan. Major part of our afternoon was spent at the terrace of the hotel lying still in the rapid gush of the cool breeze passing through us every minute or two, appreciating the surreal beauty of the moving minuscule boats in the expanse of blue lake, making patterns in different flying routine of birds and getting mildly inebriated. As soon as the Sun started coming down, we realized that this is the coolest part of the day in Udaipur we started walking down those narrow streets of the Old City visiting each and every shop to look at the numerous varieties of handicrafts from a pencil box to bags, wallets, different sketchbooks, ornaments and paintings. We tried to explore each and every narrow street which was on our way offering us different views and vistas of the city. Small squares with such great activity level in them, calligraphy on various walls and the fusion of contemporary and vernacular art forms all adorned the walls of the structures. It was a visual treat to see such subtle expressions of art.
Meandering our way through the streets of Udaipur we got to know about the Udaipur Palace which was fifteen minutes walking distance from our temporal place. The palace like other palaces of Rajasthan was ornamented with rich and florid detail of Rajputana Architecture, embodying excellent artistry and the workmanship. The palace had windows of staggering proportions panelled with small rectangular colored glasses. Size of the bedrooms and the dinning rooms were similar to today’s average apartment size and a rectangular courtyard at the height of third or fourth level with a beautiful water body at the center with lush green mammoth trees. The palace was the showcase for weapons, maps, coins and different armours which the soldier used to wear at the time of war.
Second day was not very different from our first day: walking, experiencing, clicking pictures of narrow streets but we came to know about the Monsoon palace which was approximately seven to eight kilometers away from our place. So we hired again a three wheeler to take us to the destination. The Monsoon palace got its name from the Maharaja of Udaipur as he used to spend his monsoon part of the year at that palace. One can easily see the entire city of Udaipur and the formation of the thick surface of the clouds as if you could walk on it from the palace; to put it in better words you can see the clouds forming right beneath your feet raining onto the city of Udaipur. The journey was quite ordinary up to the foot hill but as we started to climb that mountain, it revealed its mysteries and gave different views and insights about the city. Upon reaching the castle which was a three story high completely open, having huge fenestration and arched windows. Wind was gushing in and out and was with the speed where you feel that someone is pushing you towards the cliff with great force. One side of the castle was the entire Udaipur city where you can see both the lakes Pichola lake and Fateh Sagar Lake and the settlement in between whereas the other side was dominated by the geography of behemoth Aravali Mountains extending till the end of horizon. After forcefully entering the highest terrace of the castle we guys decided to sleep over there for sometime.
After resting and enjoying the place we guys descended towards our place and were fancying a boat ride in the lake during our course of action. A boat ride in Pichola lake can cost two hundred rupees for thirty minutes or eight hundred rupees for a one and a half hour depending upon your needs and luxuries. We guys opted for a two hundred rupee one and were quite excited to experience the city from inside out. The city skyline completely changes when you look from the lake, sunlight falling on the facades of the buildings, bastions reflecting the strength of the castle, amalgamation of different colors and the inviting steps originating from water and making their way towards land.
This trip to Udaipur was an enthralling experience and gave me a profound understanding about social realm of such an old heritage city, where people are running into each other all the time, a chance meeting, boy meets girl, girl meets boy, an eye to eye flirting, small squares to sit and enjoy the fabric of the city. It would satisfy the exploratory itch you get upon seeing the new trails, pathways manifested with degrees of curiosity which makes us tread forth.
This travelogue was first published by Evolthrutime .