By Lucy Jones
Londoner Lucy Jones recently moved her base to Mumbai and started chronicling her daily life in India. One of the very first things she penned down was her not-so-clichéd trip to Udaipur.
BURYING THE CLICHE
Last weekend, I succumbed to the tourist cliche and visited Royal Rajasthan, specifically Udaipur. Every third gorra that enters the Indian Subcontinent visits Rajasthan, and for this reason I visited with trepidation. I imagined selfie sticks, shoals of lingering tour groups, and a sea of shopkeepers chasing me to buy a wooden elephant that I am guaranteed to never use. However, I stand corrected, it was far from this picture.
VENICE OF THE EAST
Udaipur also known as the “Venice of the East” is perfect for a weekend away from Mumbai. As we were reminded (often) it is famous for featuring in James Bond “Octopussy” movie in 1985, yet it is much more than this: It is enchanting yet educational, beautiful, bewitching and brilliant and truly one of my favorite places EVER.
We left Bombay at the ungodly hour of 5:10 A.M. and although I moaned incessantly all the way about the preposterous planning of the Jet Airways timetable, as soon as I arrived I was beyond grateful that I was there and eating breakfast before 7 A.M.
Our first night was spent in “Jaiwana Haveli,” a charming, smallish (24 rooms to be exact!) heritage property wit sweeping views of Lake Pichola and the sparking pearl that is the Lake Palace placed in the middle of the water. At around, 3000 rupees per night (including a very hearty breakfast!) I challenge anyone to find more bang for their buck. Although not overly plush, posh or palatial, the hotel is very comfortable, spotlessly clean, and with a cheery team of staff. The location is perfect and the view of the lake is unparalleled from their rooftop restaurant.
We spent the day meandering around the City Palace Complex. The Palace dates back 400 years and is the largest of its type in Rajasthan. There are cute shops selling typical Rajasthani handicrafts, gifts, clothes and of course, Pashminas. I highly recommend hiring a tour guide to show you around the museum. The museum tours the entire Palace and it is impossible to really know what you are looking at without the help of the guide who know extensively the history and the stories behind each room, which makes the tour much much more engaging and fun. The architecture is incredibly impressive in the day, but the real treat comes at sundown.
At 7pm we attended the “Light & Sound Show”. Ignore the lacklustre name of the show. I assumed from this a few torches and a stereo and had little hope of anything very exciting. It was however dazzling, the hour long show floated by as watched the Palace’s beauty completely spellbound.
The next morning we enjoyed a sumptuous breakfast feast overlooking the lake (courtesy of our friends at Jaiwana) before heading to the local scootie wallah to rent our state-of-the-art Hyundai Accent. Midnight Blue in colour, it was the perfect carriage for our morning as we explored the beautiful land and its rich history.
So far the weekend had been dreamy, but it was really nothing on what was to come. Mid afternoon, we checked out of our Haveli, and trekked through the Old City (in the rain!) to a jetty to take us to the “Taj Lake Palace.” I was unsure what to expect: I had no doubt that it would be luxurious and lovely especially considering the price tag but would be like all the other 5 star resorts? The answer is: NO. This is the BEST PLACE ON EARTH.
As we crossed the lake and debarked onto the floating palace’s jetty we were greeting by fresh rose petals being gently thrown at us and a traditional Hindu welcome with tikka being placed lovingly on my forehead. I felt like the most Royal Rani of Rajasthan, which those that know me will agree is quite a feat!
We spent our final day exploring our palace listening to the gentle lull of the Indian Flutist and lounging my the pool being fed perfectly sweetened Lime Water. Unfortunately, as they say, all good things come to end, and as we sailed back to the mainland, I felt a deep dark sense of disappointment that I had to leave my palace, so much so that I fought to hold back tears, much to the puzzlement of the boat driver.
Read Lucy’s chronicles on her everyday life in India at www.thefriendlyfirangi.com
Featured Image: Happy Trips