Friday, 8 March 2013

Udaipur.....the Venice of the East

So yesterday we did a tour of Udaipur and it is the most BEAUTIFUL place. It's much smaller than any if the other cities we've been to (except Khajuraho) with a population of about 300,000. It's also the cleanest as apparently the municipal council have got a big drive going to keep the streets clean! Definitely the first we've seen of that in India.

The hotel we were staying in is definitely our favourite so far. It's called the Chunda Palace and it was actually built as a noble residence and has been converted into a hotel! All the walls are hand painted and its very ornate and well-decorated! The rooftop restaurant is amazing and there's a beautiful view of the entire city.

Udaipur is stunning- it's called the Venice of the East because there is water everywhere. Throughout the city there are four huge man-made lakes!! The whole place has got a proper laid-back feel to it. There isn't the usual slew of touts everywhere and it's really relaxed. Our first stop was to the City Palace. It's amazing that all the monuments and buildings are from similar times, but each one we have been to has been really distinctive. This one was more like a European museum with well-preserved exhibits and each room was still furnished. The city palace is a huge complex and the public can only access part of it as the rest is still used by the Royal Family of Udaipur today!! They are responsible for its maintenance and their heritage is displayed proudly with photographs, paintings and shrines to their ancestors everywhere. In one section is an amazing exhibit of crystal furniture (shipped from Birmingham of all the places) which was commissioned by a Prince.

Next we went on a boat trip around Lake Pichola which was my favourite part of the day. The scenery was spectacular and it was really interesting when we approached the residential part of the town on the water as we saw the locals bathing and washing their clothes in the lake......udaipur is cleaner than most indian cities but I still wouldn't be bathing in the lake..... Apparently though, even the locals who do have running water in their houses still use lake water as well as it is considered to be social!! In the centre of the lake is a gorgeous island with beautiful gardens and a stunning hotel which used to be the summer residence of the Royal Family. They were staging a wedding that was due to take place in a couple of days time when we got there and I genuinely cannot think of a more beautiful location to get married!

After we returned to dry land, we had a couple more stops on our whistle stop tour. First we went to the Royal Family's private exhibit of classic cars (yawn!) which isn't really my thing and then we went to a stunning gardens which used to be used exclusively by the harem who were not allowed to have their faces seen by any men except the King!!

The one negative of our two night stay in Udaipur was the second night where we saw two rats in our hotel!!! I hate rats anyway and considering this was a four-star hotel and it was in the cleanest city I got a bit of a shock.....I dread to think how many we haven't seen in other places but as they say 'out of sight, out of mind'. We've just arrived in Mumbai after leaving Udaipur at 5am and we definitely seem to be back in the land of crazy hassle! Stay tuned though and I'll let you know!!

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