Udaipur-My favorite city in India
Ah, Udaipur. Sometimes you just arrive in a city and it just feels right. With the exception of Jaipur, which I wasn’t too fond of, there had yet to be a city in India that I did not like. Udaipur just had this peacefulness that Pushkar lacked, even though it was a lot bigger than the popular little town. Known as the “Venice of India”, several lakes run through the center of the town. The hostel I stayed at, Bunkyard, was actually located right on the main lake, Lake Pichola. With a rooftop that afforded stunning views, it was definitely the nicest accommodation I’ve ever stayed at for only $5/night.
I spent 5 relaxing and enjoyable days in Udaipur, and I enjoyed every one of them, participating in a variety of activities that were unique to my time in India thus far. The only major tourist attraction that I went to was the City Palace, my favorite thus far. This picturesque white building was also located right on the lakefront, and the exhibits were well set up and interesting to wander through. The palace also offered great views of both the lake as well as the countless buildings that make up the residential area of Udaipur.
Conspicuously absent was the lack of the ear-splitting horns of motorbikes, tuk-tuks, cars, and various other vehicles that normally dominate the surrounding areas. One the things that I dislike most about India is how quick drivers are to blare their horns, sometimes for no reason at all! Indians will literally sit on their horn in an attempt to get the congested street full of pedestrians, animals, and other vehicles to move out of their way. The horns also seem to be louder than their Western counterparts. Horns in Udaipur seemed to be few and far between however, and it was nice to be able to hear the other parts of the city.
I spent 2 days volunteering at Animal Aid, which I talk about in detail in a post here. Spending time there was something so unique to anything that I’ve done thus far in India. I greatly enjoyed the various dogs and cows that were eager for my attention.
One afternoon was spent relaxing at the City Palace Hotel pool. Only costing 300 rupees for a day pass, it was well worth it to be able to cool down in a nice pool from the 100 degree heat. The pool was incredible fancy, and when watching the James Bond movie Octopussy later that night (filmed in Udaipur and shown every night in multiple restaurants, their claim to fame!), we noticed that several scenes were shot by this same pool!
I took a miniature painting course for a few hours one morning. This was more of me painting in a small picture of a camel while the teacher instructed me which color to paint each part. I still enjoyed the opportunity to do something creatively, even though it involved minimal effort and artistic talent on my part.
Another morning I went horseback riding out in the countryside, just a short bit away from the city. Here the landscape reminded me a bit of the Western United States, with the desert atmosphere and mountains. It had been many years since I last rode a horse, and it was a more pleasant experience that I had remembered as a kid.
One evening I went to a Rajasthan cultural dance and puppet show. Costing only 100 rupees for the hour long show, it was well worth it! I was impressed by the different dancers, all dressed in traditional Indian clothing. Some played instruments, others pots of fire on their heads, and one lady danced with over 10 jars stacked precariously on her noggin! The puppet show portion was less exciting in comparison but still entertaining.
I also splurged (twice) on several “fancy” dinners. There was a rooftop restaurant near my hostel that offered great views of the city and lake lit up at night. It reminded me of London a bit for some reason. Here I was able to get some delicious lamb souvlaki, my first time having meat in a few weeks. I’ve gone mainly vegetarian while here, as it is cheaper and the options are plentiful and delicious! Plus, once you see the state of some of the butchers in India, it will quickly change your mind! I am looking forward to having a nice hamburger though when I get to Germany in a few weeks.
The five days I spent here were just what I needed to recharge, as travelling in India definitely takes a toll on one’s body. It’s nice to know that there are cities such as this here that allow you harness your creative side and just enjoy some good old rest and relaxation!