Nights of fire - Place of beauty
Trip Start Oct 04, 2011
26Trip End Nov 28, 2011
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We will spend four nights in Udaipur in two different hotels but first we needed to get there. We left Jaipur for a seven hour drive to Udaipur that our excellent driver, Mr. Gulab, compressed to six hours and a bit.
For our first two nights we checked into the 17th century Jabag Niwas Palace. Its rooms and public areas are a treasure. This haveli is a treat on the eyes, beautiful lobby, roof top terrace overlooking the lake and great window seat in our room. We had the rest of the day to ourselves so we took a short walk on the streets and then retired to our room at the hotel. After we enjoyed a leisurely dinner on the rooftop terrace, listening to all the fireworks from those preparing for Dewali on October 26, we retired to our room to sleep.
We meet our new guide at 10:30 and we off again for an Indian adventure. We visited a Hindu temple and followed up with a visit to the huge City Palace. The current royal family has quite the empire here in Udaipur. They own the city palace which is open to paying visitors, they have two hotels attached to their living quarters and own the island that holds the Taj Lake Palace Hotel, one of the most expensive and exclusive hotels in Asia. They also have a hill top monsoon palace that they will rent out to weddings and the like.
We ventured off to a garden built by one of the past kings for his daughter who wanted a place to visit with her female pals away from the palace. So they would head out there and close the gates so no men could come in. Women must remain hidden from men in those days. Our room in the hotel was located in the women’s side of the old palace. On the way, Jacqui had the guide take her to a good Indian sweet shop and bought us a couple of delightful treats. Sweets are very popular for the holidays. The few days before Dawali are considered good days for buying anything or everything. Sales are very high and merchants often make their most sales now. Dawali is similar to Christmas, lots of decorations, gift giving and buying endless amounts of stuff.
Back to the hotel for a few hours then off for a leisurely ride on the lake - a very relaxing and cool journey around the lake for about 45 minutes then back to the hotel for the night. Jacqui and I headed out to enjoy a veggie thali at the roof top terrace in the hotel next door. Two delicious thalis, a large Kingfisher beer and a masala tea cost 680 rubies or $14.60. Unfortunately we ran into the same problem two days running, an inflated bill. Our hotel in Jaipur did the same thing. We were able to sort it out both times but it shows you must pay attention.
Our second day in Udaipur is also Dawali so there is a marked increase in smiles, flowers and general well being. Today was a short trip out of town to visit two ’dead’ temples - temples that are no longer used as places of worship. They began ’dead’ when the Muslim invaders destroyed idols in the temples so the Hindus walked away from them. The two were built for the queen and her mother-in-law. They are situated in a beautiful location next a lake up in the hills. Nearby a jarring note came from some grieving women who were morning the recent passing of a loved one.
From the dead to the living, we went to an active temple that had 108 smaller temples on the same ground
We sat on the upper terrace and watched the insane amount of fireworks in the town. I guessed that there were at least 10 to 20 explosions per second and this went on for about five hours! Thank goodness we are away from the centre and up high so the noise would not drive us up the wall. We both ordered thalis and eat them watching more fireworks. The food was off the charts. We had praised the food as the best we had in India and then they sent the chief out to receive our compliments. Terrific food matched by great service. A large bowl of Mulligatawnay soup, five curries, yogurt, rice, salad, three types of Indian bread and two deserts rounded this off. Impossible to finish the food. This one cost 800 rupees or about $17 each, getting into Canadian prices but oh so good
Waking up this morning I ventured out to our veranda and was amazed to hear fireworks still going off!
Our last full day in Udaipur was filled with a tour to a Jain temple at Ranakpur. The drive to the temple is quite long on a narrow winding mountain road. Along the way we saw some nomads moving their sheep and families by foot from here to the Ganges so the sleep can have food. One stop to look at a colony (flock, murder, herd?) of fruit bats. As you can see in the photos, they are quite large.
Finally after about 2.5 hours drive, we arrived at Ranakpur to see the temple. The temple is an amazing place that takes your breath away. I found it very hard to photograph as it is impossible to frame the pictures to do the place justice. It took 50 years to build and has 1400 carved marble columns supporting the place. Each column is different from the other and are all magnificent. The builders wanted to make sure that man was not pretending to be perfect so one of the columns is set on a lean. You are not allowed to take pictures of the idols and there are guards who blow their whistles at those who dare. On the long drive back we stopped at an old water wheel used to draw water up from a well. We also saw children selling custard apples.
Back to the Fateh Garh for another night of enjoyment in the lap of luxury. Tomorrow we are off to Jodhpur by plane so we will be saying our good byes to Mr. Gulab