The year was 2013- final year of my college. Allow me introduce my friend Smriti here, because she is going to be an integral part of this adventure. So Smriti and I got selected to present a technical paper at a college in Udaipur. We immediately booked our tickets before any of our parents could say no. And when the day finally arrived, I was in the seventh heaven and I found it very difficult to not-float in the air.
I have a train fetish. So the moment we boarded Chetak express from Delhi, I lost my sanity. There’s something extremely refreshing about trains. I don’t know if it’s the dingy coaches or the constant disturbance from the fellow passengers.
Maybe, it’s the window.
Why? Because there is a whole new world out there and you can see all of it from your window. The solitude brewed with the quintessential Indian crowd- I LOVE THAT COMBINATION.
So we reached Udaipur next morning and moved to our hostel accommodation. And after spending half of our day fulfilling the purpose of our visit, we decided to tour the lake city.
We had no idea about the ‘must-visit’ places of Udaipur. So, we decided to go with the breeze. And the gust of wind took us to –Lake Pichola.
Caution: If you have seen lakes of the sort such as the one located at Old fort in Delhi; beware! The magnificence of Lake Pichola might blind you. And at the same time will make you fall in love with the city.
Even Rudyard Kipling couldn’t stop himself from mentioning it in his letters, “If the Venetian owned the Pichola, he might say with justice, ‘see it and die’.”
The beauty of this lake held us with its charm and we spent the whole evening there. We feasted our eyes with the picturesque scenery. The azure sky mingling with the turquoise blue waters of the lake, set at the perfect backdrop of Aravalli hills. And when the sun went behind those eminent peaks, a déjà-vu engulfed me. I saw this in my dream once, when I was a child.
The next day, we hired an auto who also turned out to be our tour guide. He insisted us to go to Karni mata temple which was a cable car ride. The ropeway took us to the top of the hill. You can see the whole city from there- the white buildings and the blue waters.
On our way back from the temple, we covered all famous tourist destinations – Doodh Talai, Saheliyon ki Bari and Udaipur Zoo before our guide finally dropped us at the City Palace of Udaipur.
Now please pay attention because it’s going to get very interesting from here. I would like to mention here that I am a history enthusiast (which does not mean that I scored any good marks in my history exam.)
Basically, I enjoy visiting ancient monuments and I enjoy soaking myself in the folds of time. So, I have been to many forts and palaces- Old fort and Red fort in Delhi, Golconda fort in Hyderabad, Sinhagad fort near Pune, Amer fort in Jaipur, Pratapgarh fort in Mahabaleshwar- to name a few. And I must tell you, Udaipur palace is by far the best fort I have seen. And every time I plan to visit a fort, I feel prejudiced at the notion that it can’t be better than the one at Udaipur. If you have been to any fort which is far more beautiful than this one, please help me get past this state of disbelief.
*sigh* I am sorry, I got carried away.
So as I was saying, the City Palace is a living reminiscence of the kingdom of Mewar. As you move through the palace, you will notice every corner is soaked in royalty. The paintings on the walls, the domes and cupolas, the intricately carved rooms with ornamental balconies, everything is just so magnificent. The part of the palace which is open for public displays the paintings and armoury of Mewar kings. We did not click pictures here because we didn’t buy the ticket for it, so everything is stacked in my memory as-it-is.
You can enter the City Palace any number of times in a day with the same ticket. Smriti and I wanted to savour the palace in its tranquillity. So we decided to come back again in the evening.
After gluttoning over the scrumptious Rajasthani lunch, we roamed around the local market. The sunset was still an hour away so we decided to visit the very famous Vintage Collection of Classic Cars museum. The royal mania with the four wheeled devils was fascinating to look at. From Rolls-Royce Phantom to grand limousines, magnificence is etched in this palace garage.
Going back to Udaipur palace was a wise decision. Smriti and I parted our ways here- to enjoy the quietude and capture the moment in peacefulness. I remember I sat there for almost thirty minutes never losing the sight of Jag Mandir. The lighting dazzled the blue-gray sky and with every gust of chilly wind caressing my hair, I missed being with my beloved.
The terrific part of our whole adventure was that the poor little college girls did not own any smart phone at that time. No Google map and no travel websites to guide us on the “Top 10 things to do in Udaipur”. We explored the unexplored. Ended up where we weren’t supposed to be. Walked the dusky alleys of Udaipur and laughed aloud thinking that we would be disowned if our parents ever got to know that the girls were out roaming in the alien city!
Audacity at its best!
I wrote this travelogue when I got to know about the contest at Tripoto. I was immediately reminded of my first adventure out of parental supervision. The icing on the cake here is- a chance to witness the stunning Pushkar Mela. I have heard the parables of the amazing Pushkar- the cattle fair, the sand dunes, the hot air balloon ride, the sunset at Pushkar Lake.
I imagine myself dancing to the tunes of the tribal musicians, savouring the authentic Pushkar cuisine, clicking pictures with the nomads of Pushkar and a fulfilling my childhood fantasy – lying down on the cold sand dunes and spot a shooting star.