May 27, 2009

Udaipur - City of Lakes

Trip to Udaipur was outcome of a long weekend and lots of JP miles in my & Amit’s account. Initially we thought 3 days are too much in only one city and we may have 1 day free without any activities. But I was totally wrong. There were places we could not visit due to lack of time.

We reached Udaipur airport very early; hired taxi to hotel. Airport is on the outskirts of city about 25 km. It was very hot even in the morning. After a drive of 20 minutes on wonderful highway and 10 minutes through labyrinth of roads we reached our hotel. In the city; roads are very narrow that even two bikes can not pass together. As we reached early we had to wait for our room to get ready. We went to the restaurant on first floor & sat in Zharokha (Big carved window – see picture below) facing Lake Pichola and Lake Palace.

Our Hotel
Eagle spotted from window


Havelis along lake pichola

Udaipur is city of lakes; Lake Pichola is in the heart of city and main lake. It has a Lake Palace (Now it is a Taj lake palace hotel) and Jag Mandir. We took lots of photos of Lake Palace. After dumping luggage in our room; we went out to explore the city. Hired a bike; this was very easy and cheap. They took driving license and charged us Rs. 300 only for one day. It was really great deal & was very convenient to travel around.

Photos of Lake Pichola , Lake palace

First stop was Sahelion ki Badi (Garden created for Queen and her friends) – I have visited Sahelion ki Badi in Jaipur also. I think this place is everywhere in Rajasthan. Construction was good but not well maintained now. Surrounded garden was beautiful.

Photos of sahelionki badi

Then we headed to Shilpigram which is about 10 km away from city – It is a village created by Rajasthan government and Rajasthan tourism. It shows the culture of Rajasthan and neighboring states like Gujrat, Maharashtra. They have small huts and performers waiting out side. They perform singing or dancing which represents their culture. They offer camel ride as well. They have two small museums in it. One of them was called as Gol Museum. It was a huge round hall where they have kept lots of old items like musical instruments, wooden utensils, and wooden sculptures.

Photos of Shilpigram

After sight seeing; I wanted to fill my stomach by Dal-bati-churma. I became fan of this cuisine in my Jaipur trip. After lunch we headed back to our hotel. On the way we saw one more lake (Fateh Sagar Lake) and beautiful road along with it. Decided to take long route to city. This was little lonely road but very nice. Fateh Sagar Lake has an observatory and Nehru garden. You can take boat ride to reach there. But we were tired so spent afternoon in sleeping.

Decided to take dinner but not at our hotel. Before going to Udaipur I read reviews about the restaurants. We went to Savege garden restaurant at Chand Pole. It took some efforts finding this restaurant as it is located in residential area and in a small lane (only for bike lane) going upwards. Worth the efforts; food was really good. It is an Italian restaurant painted in a dark blue color.

Next day we went to see City palace. This was about 2-3 minutes walking distance from our hotel. It is very huge, beautiful and biggest palace in Udaipur. It is better to take audio guide machine which provides detailed information about all parts of palace. They have created designated path which makes sure you don’t miss anything. At the entry point there was a horse stable and two handsome Mewar Horses. I tried taking photo as entry inside the stable was not allowed.

Photos of City Palace and view of Udaipur city and Lake Palace

City palace has collection of lots of statues from 16th – 17th Centuries and even older than that. It has hall where lots of pictures and information is given about Maharana Pratap and his horse Chetak. In below picture; there was a statue of Chetak with elephant trunk. They attached false elephant trunk to horses while fighting with enemy sitting on elephant. The reason was big elephants never attack their younger ones. Horses after attaching elephant trunk looks like small elephants. Many pictures and information was given about famous Haldi Ghati battle.

We moved further and saw many beautiful rooms studded with precious stones. By this time we were on the 2nd / 3rd floor of palace and it has very beautiful view of Lake Palace. Antique and interesting things like old fan, table, weighing machine were kept in various rooms in palace. One beautiful hall has a peacocks carved on windows. It was a peacock hall. It took us about 3 ½ hours to explore the full palace.

Then we took rickshaw to go to a Vintage car museum. They have very nice restaurant but it was close by the time we reached there. (Actually Amit’s wrist watch was faulty which showed us wrong time). So went to near by restaurant to have lunch. After lunch we came back to Vintage car museum.

It was truly amazing place; worth visiting at least once. They had about 22 cars from year 1924; very well kept. Every car was in separate garage and all were working. Present King of Udaipur uses them on some occasions. I liked all the cars. Below is just collage and I will publish a separate post with pictures of all cars. There is only unusual thing in picture is the bike which I found kept out side our hotel. Well it’s a bike of World War II & it is Vintage too.

In the evening we went to see Monsoon Palace alternatively know as Sajjangarh because it was built by King Sajjan Singh. It is at the height of 340 meters above the surroundings. Road to this place is narrow with lots of turns. Better to have powerful vehicle. We went there by rickshaw. As the rickshaw is not that powerful but our driver was really good. View of Udaipur city from this place was breathtaking. This palace was used in shooting of a Bond movie Octopussy. There are restaurants in Udaipur city shows this movie everyday at 7 pm since last 25 years. They had boards kept outside advertising about their restaurant shows Octopussy movie everyday.

Photos of road to Monsoon Palace, view of Udaipur city and Aravali mountain range

After long tiring day… we had booked table for dinner in our restaurant at rooftop. This is must do activity. It’s better to book the table as it gets full easily every night. View from rooftop was magnificent. Only thing you can see is the most beautiful Lake Palace. It was difficult to take good snap in dark but somehow manage to take one.

Photo of Lake Palace in night & our hotel

Third day morning we went to German bakery at Gangaur Ghat for breakfast. Its very small place with nice sitting arrangement and it has different kinds of pastries to try. We tried two – three different verities. (I didn’t like much but the place was really cool). Then we went to see the zoo which was near Vintage car museum. I was not expecting much as the ticket was too less (Rs. 7 only) and it was not well kept. But I was surprised to see one tiger, one jaguar and two panthers. Compare to tiger and jaguar panthers had little better place to stay. I saw lots of peacocks, some tortoises, pelicans and few more birds. Took train ride inside the zoo.

Photos of Udaipur Zoo

Next destination was Crystal Gallery in Fateh Prakash Palace. Ticket to this place was too high as compare to the entry ticket to any place in Udaipur. But it was worth visiting. We entered Durbar Hall which is the most magnificent most lavish place I have ever seen. It has three beautiful and impressive chandeliers, several painting of Maharanas and various weapons on wall. 1st floor was the crystal gallery. Camera was not allowed. The collection of crystals was indeed amazing. Only a king can posses it. These Crystal things were ordered by King Sajjan Singh who was fond of crystals but he passed away before the shipment arrive Udaipur. All the packages opened after 100 years of his death and now opened to public. In crystal collection they have glasses, plates, sofa sets, fans, dining tables, chairs, bed and so on. It was countless. In crystal gallery also audio guide was available. We took coffee at the restaurant in Durbar Hall while listening live music of Santoor and Tabla and with view of Lake Palace from window. It was truly a royal experience.

Durbar Hall & view of Lake Palace from restaurant

One activity was still remaining. That was boating in Lake Pichola. I tried finding cheaper option but could not find. Finally took boat from City Palace. Boat took us on the Jag Mandir. This is basically a huge open hall having restaurant viewing the shore, Lake Palace, City Palace and lots of Havelis situated along lake. Jag Mandir also has few suites for over night stay and landscape garden. We went to restaurant where I found price of wine bottle was as high as Rs. 31000. That must be Royal Wine. :) Amit took photo of menu card.

Photos taken while boating

After spending about one hour on Jag Mandir; we took boat ride back to City Palace. Sun was getting ready to set & we realized our three days of holiday are over. So quickly. While on way back; I saw many boats in Lake Pichola were full of people dancing & singing. That was Mewar Festival. In the night we enjoyed fire works at Lal Ghat; in celebration for Mewar Festival. That was the end of our short trip. It was short stay but we explored many places.

Photos of Mewar festival

1 comment:

  1. Yeah...even i did not think that Udaipur shall have so many attractions. Also there is haldighati and other places around to be seen. You have covered entire Udaipur in your blog and confidently i can say one need not go to Udaipur...rather just see your blog. :)