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The adventures of the Mel

The Venice of the East

INDIA | Saturday, 23 January 2010 | Views [1072]

WARNING: This post may overuse the term ‘amazing’ and its synonyms.


I have just loved Udaipur. It is an amazing city with a serene ambience despite the plethora of tourists. I wish that my last week was here. The shop-lined streets wind around haphazardly, friendly and not over-pushy merchants beckon you to come in and check out the miniature paintings for which the region is well known (information useful BEFORE I bought some in Jodhpur. Oh well).


One thing that is quite noticeable here is how clean it is in comparison to the rest of the country. Well, Rajasthan at least. Rubbish does not line the streets, there is only the occasional pile of cow dung and even the cows and dogs (and gorgeous, gorgeous donkeys) seem more hygienic.


After arriving yesterday we went out for Anna’s 30th birthday, where Paddy had sneakily organised birthday decorations and a cake, and we had equally sneakily bought some jewellery for her from the silversmith’s. Needless to say she was delighted and a great night was had by all. We even dressed up for the occasion – Vanessa and I wore the traditional outfits that we had bought in Jaipur and Paddy even wore his traditional outfit. We were shocked to discover that he usually wears this but is apparently requested (well, advised) to wear ‘western’ clothes so that we feel more comfortable! You’d think that with the kind of people that Gecko’s attracts that this wouldn’t be an issue. Yeah, you’d think!!


Today has been a big day – we toured around the city palace and surrounds as well as the Jagdish Temple. We visited this carved Indo-Aryan temple first and it set an amazing precedent for the day (which I’m glad to say was well met!). We climbed the mountainous steps up to the temple, which consists of a central main temple containing a shrine to the god Vishnu surrounded by 4 small corner temples.


We arrived at the main temple in the midst of a captivating religious fervour. Bells clanged deafeningly by robed men and the crowd swayed forward and back as they payed homage to Vishnu. Chanting, singing, waving, blessing, praying….it was amazing to see such an intimate experience. I would have loved to have taken a photo or recorded something to be able to share this with you, but obviously this would have been highly inappropriate. The colours of the women were just incredible – a commonly worn sari was a combination of red and yellow that indicate that the wearer had borne a son. After the main passion had subsided, a small group sat on the floor of the temple and continued to chant quietly. A man played a large drum by hand, and one woman dressed in a yellow that beckoned your eye danced around and around and around in ecstasy, waving her hands at Vishnu and taking pleasure in all that was around her. Just amazing.


After leaving this main temple I felt a bit surreal, walking around and snapping shots of the temple….it hardly seemed worthwhile considering what we had just experienced.


We moved onto the City Palace where we had a tour with a guide. Again, whilst I can’t remember much in particular, it was amazing. Stained glass, fabulous archways, mirrored rooms, marble hallways….just gorgeous. There were many paintings which usually depicted a story, so you have to look closely to see characters ‘move’ across the painting in the correct order. From the city palace we got our first look at the famed Lake Palace, which although did not have the magical lighting of sunset, was still amazing to look at.


After traipsing through the palace for a couple of hours, we took a boat tour around Lake Pichola, home of the Lake Palace. You unfortunately cannot stop at the palace unless you have a reservation (it’s actually a five star hotel), but I’m going to take the sour-grapes approach and assume that it’s only amazing from afar. That’ll work, right? We took about twenty minutes to circle the crisp white Lake Palace and marvel at the supplanted fairytale.


We also passed another building on the lake which was topped by cormorant after cormorant, basking in the sun with complete apathy to the noisy boat chugging past. On the banks on the other side was a rainbow of women washing in the river, also indifferent to the humming boats.


Further on we stopped at Jagmandir Island, home to a restaurant and great photo opportunities. I could have stayed there all afternoon – it was just so tranquil – the peace seeped into your pores and filled you with contentment. It deserves more than the few lines it gets in this blog, but I am not sure what to write about it. Make sure you do it – don’t do the half hour boat ride. Relax at Jagmandir Island. You won’t regret it.


Soon enough we were back to the ferry which took us back to the City Palace and we wandered home. Relaxation for a few hours and then we went out to dinner at a lovely rooftop restaurant where we had an amazing view of the Lake Palace and surrounds.


And now here I am, in bed, reluctant to leave tomorrow to head back to crappy Delhi. Hope that you are all having a great time at home – I will be home in less than 10 days now!






Udaipur part one photos

Udaipur part two photos




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