The calm and chaos of India’s White City: Udaipur

Letter 159

Udaipur was everything I expected and more. It was grand, full of exquisite architecture and littered with colourful fabrics, food and flora. What I didn’t expect was to find some of the kindest people I’ve ever met, to feel relaxed and at ease quite so quickly, or to see cows sit at the top of the pecking order when it comes to road rules. No one is safer than a cow on an Indian road.

I feel like Udaipur is a gentle introduction to India in many ways.

  1. The heat is amazingly bearable as the lakes brings a much needed breeze in 40 degrees. Evenings spent on rooftops were heavenly.
  2. The roads are completely mad – but I have a feeling they are less so than other nearby cities. Follow my plan for road crossing and you’ll be fine – do as the Indians do.
  3. It’s a relatively wealthy city, so is probably more ‘Western’ than the others. Still not Western by any means, but it felt like a good way to ease into these cities and to reduce the feeling of culture shock.

 

Arrival

After around 18 hours travelling to get from London to Udaipur, we were exhausted. We slept for a lot of the first day. Our very first introduction to this city, and country, was an exhilarating taxi ride into the city, where our driver beeped his horn once every ten seconds to get either people, mopeds, cars or buses out of his way (never cows, may I add). When we got into the centre he told us he couldn’t drive to the hotel because of small roads and we’d have to get a rickshaw the last bit. We were pretty much zombies at this point so we just went with it. Turns out, we were about 20 steps from the hotel and the rickshaw driver instead just drove around in a circle to get some quick money from us. We realised this the next day and made a note to try and avoid this minor scamming and to keep our eyes peeled from now on. When it only costs you an extra £2, you can’t be too mad.

udaipur bw

 

Rope Swing at Sunset

After napping in the AC hotel room, we headed for a walk to enjoy the sunset. The city comes alive at night, especially with the Mewar Festival in full swing. The streets were full of people dressed in beautiful bright colours, chatting, dancing and eating. We walked through the streets and along the river to the rope swing and made it to the top just in time for the sunset. It’s definitely worth doing for the view at the top.

We even met a holidaying family from Agra on the swing, and ended up seeing them the following day at a dance show. Bumping into people repeatedly made Udaipur feel smaller and smaller.

udaipur festival 1udaipur lake 2udaipur sunset 2udaipur sunset 3

 

Mewar Festival Lakeside

On the way home we spotted something going on by the lake. We’re still not sure what it was, but it looked like some sort of ceremony. Who knows, it was still great to see everybody out and enjoying themselves.

udaipur festival 2

 

The City Palace

The one thing everybody must do in Udaipur, is The City Palace, and we made it our first stop in the morning. It’s the city’s greatest triumph, built over a period of 400 years, is stunning inside, out and around. We spent over an hour meandering the tiny corridors between the different spaces and marvelling at the views over The White City. The journey around the green courtyards and colourful rooms, and past decorated windows and lakeside views is just lovely. We only wish we had the audio guide so that we knew something about what we saw. Instead we just saw them as a series of beautiful architectural pieces. It was also very interesting to see the various developments of the Palace, including what the British did. It was what I expected: we made it bigger and taller, sprawling across it’s lakeside site. I have to say though, we must have done a good job because it is simply majestic as it stands now.

udaipur city palace 1udaipur city palace 2udaipur city palace 4udaipur city palace 5udaipur city palace 7udaipur city palace 9udaipur city palace 11

 

Jagdish Temple

This temple is around the corner from the Palace and is entered via a long staircase. It’s free to get in, although you will probably be asked for money from the guy who ‘looks after’ your shoes. It is quite something. So intricate and detailed and you might get lucky and see some singing inside. We did and it was lovely. We didn’t spend very long here – just a quick walk around.

P1190103P1190104

 

Dinner and a Dance Show

The perfect way to end a day in Udaipur, is food and a dance show. After a siesta in the middle of the day, which we realise we will need to do everyday due to the heat, we headed out towards Gangaur Ghat for dinner. We stopped in a small rooftop café full of locals for a quick bite. There was no Indian food on the menu so we opted for pizza and chips, which was actually perfect. The views over the lake were amazing, and the breeze was even better.

udaipur lake 3

Bagore ki Haveli is the dance show which is a MUST-SEE in Udaipur. It was teaming with Indian tourists, foreign tourists and (I’m guessing) locals. We ran into a few people we’d met before which was a lovely surprise. The show is bright, beautiful, crazy, funny and awe-inspiring. I loved it. You can’t help but spend the whole hour smiling.

udaipur bagore ki haveli 1udaipur bagore ki haveli 2udaipur bagore ki haveli 3

udaipur bagore ki haveli 4

One of many photos I have where she unfortunately looks as if she’s putting up her middle finger to the audience. Still beautiful though.

 

Our introduction to Udaipur was everything we wanted India to be. Bright, beautiful and absolutely bonkers. We still had another day in Udaipur, but I’ll get to that in the next post – this was long enough!

We are currently in Jodhpur and loving every second. I feel like we’ve seen so much so far and each day seems to top the last. I think that’s India for you.

Until next time!

From Lou

About Me

 

Quick costings for everything mentioned here:

  • Prepaid taxi from the airport 700 ₹
  • Rickshaw to con stupid tourists 200 ₹
  • Rope swing (cable car) for 2 people 450 ₹
  • City Palace adult ticket 300 ₹
    • City Palace student ticket 100 ₹
    • City Palace senior ticket 200 ₹
  • Dance show ticket (I think) 150 ₹
    • plus camera pass 100 ₹
  • Dinners (inc. tip)  for 2 people all between 700 and 900 ₹

Exchange rate is about 90 ₹ to the £1 at the moment.

 

PS. Happy 3 years to aletterfromlou.com. Happy days!

4 thoughts on “The calm and chaos of India’s White City: Udaipur

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