So yes, am back after a long hiatus. But with a stock of travel stories that I'm dying to share for a while now! The last one year has been super busy. Travel and studies have taken bulk of my time. And now what I have is a checklist of all the travel destinations and stories I have been waiting to share.
I take my pick, one (post) at a time. Travel destination for the day - Udaipur.
Enthralled by the quandary that the city besets you with, Udaipur is every artist's delight. Its perplexing how a city can run through narrow, traffic covered, people studded roads, and yet contain some of the most enchanting destinations of palaces and resorts that one could find, nestled in the heart of the city! A 5 hour drive from Ahmedabad by road, Udaipur greeted us with an accommodation in the Brigade Mess that overlooked the fine city line, gleaming with golden lights in the night sky. And this in the middle of palaces and the royale restaurants that beset themselves in the picturesque surrounding of a lake. The view was nothing short of spectacular!
After a sparky evening in the mess garden, we headed towards the main city, making our way through the narrow roads to the magnificence of the 'Ambrai Restaurant' outside Chandpole.
The quite dinner, dim lamps, chatty tourists, a fine barside, and the mesmerizing view of sparkling night lights beset in the middle of Pichola Lake - The night couldn't have ended on a more befitting note.
The next day, refreshed and recouped from all the travel, we set out early morning to Ranakpur to visit the famous Jain temple. Known to be the largest and most important temples of the Jain cult, theRanakpur Jain temple is most notable for its splendid architecture. The creamy-light-colored marble, the intricate carvings in the pillars and the temple roofs, the images of Adinath are the hallmarks of the temple that also features in the BBC 'not to be missed tourist destinations'.
Since photography is prohibited inside the temple, it makes the trip all the more worthwhile. It is one of the rarest temples where mind-boggling architecture, quietude, and resonance in faith coincide. A word of caution: Be fully clad for the visit (I had to sneak into a white full-dress-reminding me of nuns at my school, in which I gleefully toured the mystique of a temple). Not complaining!! ;)
Wandering about the outskirts of the city, we headed further towards Kumbhalgarh Fort from Ranakpur. In a journey that took approximately an hour, to be welcomed into the tough, fortified walls of the highly acclaimed fortress in Mewar. Kumbhalgarh Fort is best known as the birthplace of Maharana Pratap (time to revise history), and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013(a lesser known, Google-worthy fact).
The Fort would also double up as the perfect location to shoot the Game of Throne series, if it were ever made(err, copied) in India. Heard some rumors around the Indian adaptation, starring Sakshi Tanwar. God knows the truth in that, but I would certainly claim royalty if the suggestion of Kumbhalgarh as the ideal location is ever picked up and well, executed. ;)
Built on a hilltop, its a long walk up to the fort and further down, when the entire view is up for grabs. I thoroughly enjoyed my share of the bright sunny day under an umbrella, walking past history, and making most of the Aravalli Ranges view that the place had to offer.
Following the morning hours in the Fort, and later lunch at Mahindra Resorts, we headed to the Haldighati Maharana Pratap Museum and Chetak Samadhi. The well-known battle of Hadighati between Maharana Pratap of Mewar and the Mughal army of Akbar of Delhi, came alive through the light and sound show, aired at regular intervals at the Museum.
During the battle, Maharana Pratap's (leading the clan of Rajputs) horse Chetak got injured when it attacked the elephant of Man Singh (leading the Mughal army). So as to save the life of Maharana Pratap, the injured horse covered a safe distance away from the battle field, and after jumping a 22ft. river, collapsed and died. The bravery of the horse is a matter of much talk in history, which is truly exemplified in this region of Mewar. I was particularly delighted to find a deep connect with history within the brick walls of Kumbhalgarh and the Museum, which pays a glorious tribute to Rana Pratap.
The day unfolded into the night, amidst many a adventures on the roads, not to forget the ganne Ka juice (sugarcane juice) that came much to our rescue in the sweltering heat. We brought in the night with our favorite spot in the garden mess, the view of the city lake and the umpteen lights decorating the night sky! Day three was marked by local travel within the city, which would have been incomplete without visiting the City Palace.
Replete with history, the palace offers beautiful views of the city from its balconies,with the shining waters of Lake Pichola, and the Jag Mandir (yeah that's the one where Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani was shot) in the backdrop. The Mor Chowk (Peacock Square) is where the glass mosaics of peacock adorn the walls, the peacocks representing the three different seasons - summer, winter and monsoon.
A unique fusion of the Chinese and European architecture, the edifice exudes a distinct charm. The typical jharokas (stone window projecting from the wall face of a building, typically for women to see the events outside without being seen themselves)sit beautifully masquerading the balconies, and thereby pronouncing the architecture of the palace.
A royal structure in granite and white marble, it was built by Maharana Uday Singh,and gives a glimpse into the life of the royalty in the era bygone. I was completely mesmerized by the intricate designs, patterns, mirror-work, paintings and the colored glass that adorned the walls, halls, and the cupolas(pyramidal roof).
Trading to be a Rajput princess for a day, didn't seem like a bad proposition at that time! . This place vroomed with a bang, a classic display of vintage cars which have belonged to the Maharanas of Mewar both past and present. The collection is housed in the original former Mewar State Motor Garage, a glorious setting for such a fine assortment of vehicles.
Afterwards, our hungry selves found solace in the finger-licking, super yummy, all-organic food from 'Millets of Mewar', located outside Chandpole. The food at Millets of Mewar is simply divine. It is this very place that packed and parceled the food for Mallika Sharawat while her svayamwar (yes, the Indian telly saga!)was shot in Udaipur. The fusion restaurant with its breezy setting and open air balconies adds to the touristy charm. And the best part is glutton-free-healthy-food. Imagine having a wholly nutritious pizza! I couldn't (ever), before landing at this place. The millet cookies are especially not to be missed, I was wondering if I could have it parceled after finishing an entire delectable box Soon after, the evening was spent in the hustle bustle surrounding the Fateh Sagar Lake, admist a chain of stalls offering everything from eateries to ice-creams to cold drinks.
A refreshing evening walk along the lake and the sun set, as we saw the day dissolve by a pleasantly breezy evening into the glimmer of the night skies. The following morning, after many of our crusades in and around the city, the day of departure was here!! But we wouldn't leave the city without taking one final stroll along the City Palace, a different entry this time around. With the Lake Palace in the background and a beautiful view, the stroll was a delight - the four days of complete bliss playing like a flashback in the background of my mind.The main palace looked completely different from this entrance giving a quaint feel, almost as if I toured a completely different place altogether just a day back.
Add to that the Fateh Prakash Palace entrance that appeared out of nowhere!! Well, I was equally confused, nevermind though - the picturesque locales were enough to have me going "cheeese" at the flash of a button (second).If I could go on, the post would never end, just like I never wanted this escapade to. But well, there's always a comeback. And just in case you're still hanging around till the very end of this post, I would congratulate you on a remarkable feat. This has by far been the longest time it has taken me to get a post together, not because of a lack of words but because of the photographs it is replete with, without which I felt 'Udaipur' wouldn't have been justified.