City Palace lakes

Trip Start Dec 25, 2011
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125
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Trip End May 10, 2013


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Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Monday, April 22, 2013

Jodhpur is known as the blue city. Many of the buildings are painted blue. This is to keep the houses cool. Not all of the buildings are blue, but many are and scattered throughout the old town, which is at the base of the fort, within the city walls.

Yesterday when we walked around, there were a few blue buildings, but we didn't see the whole blue effect. So, off on an early morning jeep ride to some look out points! We left at 5.45am, in the dark. So we watched over the city as the sky turned a lovely pink colour. The town was almost deserted, but as we made our way into a small village just outside the city walls, all kinds of activities were taking place. Cow feeding, showering, general wandering around and watching the white people!

We walked through the small streets, avoiding the numerous cows. And we taken into someone's house. We headed up the steep stone steps to the roof. From here we had a great view of the stone fort and the orange sky in the background. All around us were lots of blue walls!

On the drive back down, we stopped at a few more lookout points across the city, all the blue box houses below the towering fort. It was lovely. Worth the early morning. But I was tired.

By the time we got back to the hotel it was 7am and just in time to walk onto the road outside the hotel and wait for our bus to Udaipur. After just 10minutes the bus rolled up and looked pretty full. I was worried. But no need, our seats were reserved and had no problems!

The bus was similar to yesterday's. But today's bus had a horn that was more like a siren. But it seemed to be able to play tunes too. So random. I managed a bit of sleep on the bumpy roads. But after 7.5hours of driving through desert, small villages and spotting monkeys, we finally arrived into the city of Udaipur.

This city seemed a lot bigger than the others we have been to. Loads of activity. But our hotel wasn't too far from the 'bus stop' ie the side of the road.

After a quick break and a shower (I feel so dirty all the time - it's dusty, hot and also very dirty anyway!) off to explore the city.

We walked into the main town area, past loads of cool looking shops. I spotted so much stuff that I wanted to buy! This is the first time we've come across 'tourist tat' shops! Love it. But no time today, I will have to return tomorrow.

Udaipur is known for its local crafts, particularly its miniature paintings in the Rajput-Mughal style. These are intricately painted designs, usually painted onto silk or camel bone.

We went to an art gallery where the guy explained the process for painting. They use 6 main paint colours, made from natural substances. The funniest being the yellow - made from camel wee! We were given a demonstration using the brushes made from camel eyelashes - it was so clever. The paintings are small, but so so detailed. The guy even painted a small design on a fingernail for each of us - I had an elephant!

I really liked the paintings. I wanted one with the three main Rajasthani animals on. A camel - for love, an elephant - for good luck and a house - for power. But they were expensive and didn't have one that I loved, which was a shame. Always got tomorrow for shopping!

Just off the lake, in the Bagore-ki-Haveli (a beautifully ornate building) each night they hold a dance performance. We sat around in a small pretty courtyard, with colourful lit up arches and a tree filled with fairy lights. It lasted an hour and the ladies performed Mewari, Bhil and western Rajasthani dances. And a man did some puppets. It was so good. The outfits sparkled in the lights. They twirled round and round, up and down, all whilst carrying pots on their heads - I tried yesterday and could barely manage standing still, let along dancing all around! At the end, one of the ladies had a stack of 11 pots on her head!! She just kept adding more and more! Wow. I wasn't expecting it to be that good.

For dinner we went to the local market. Not really street food, more of a food court. We ordered a load of random dishes (no idea what any of it would be) but it was so good! We had some puff-like balls filled with chickpeas and drizzled in yoghurt. Cheese pasta!! A masala dosa (pancake type thing that tastes like Yorkshire pudding, filled with curried potato), another dry curry vegetable mix and a baji - not your usual onion ball. It's was fried bread with a lentil curry. All so good. And finished with icecream! And barely cost £1 each. Cheapest Indian meal yet (we've been eating at rather too expensive places).


Wednesday 24 April 2013

Udaipur was once the capital of the Rajput kingdom of Mewar. Within the town are three interconnected lakes - Fateh Sagar Lake, the Lake Pichhola and the smaller Swaroop Sagar Lake. Then dotted around the lakes are many palaces, temples and gardens. The city has been called the 'Venice of the East' and the 'Most Romantic City of India'.

The City Palace stretches for nearly 1km along the eastern shore of Lake Pichola.

At the Southern entrance to the City Palace complex there was a confusing ticket office. The prices have, from the beginning of this month, drastically increased in price. Which was a bit of a shock. There is a fee to enter the complex. Fee to go inside the palace. Fee for a camera. All a bit ridiculous. And it's expensive.

Lake Pichola is the largest lake, at 4km long and 3km wide, but remains shallow and can dry up in severe droughts. I bought a ticket for a boat ride around the lake, but had to wait nearly an hour for the next boat to depart!

We sailed all around the lake, it was really pretty. The City Palace towering over the lake, monkeys running along the edges of buildings, women washing clothes and men washing themselves. An arched bridge runs across to connect the two sides.

In the middle of the lake is Jagniwas Island which houses the Lake Palace hotel. This palace was built in 1754 as a royal summer palace and entirely built in white marble. It is really pretty. And used as part of the set for the James Bond Octopussy.

After sailing around Lake Pichola for about half an hour, we stopped at Jagmandir Island. The palace on this island was built by Maharana Karan Singh in 1620. The palace has recently been converted into a hotel and is often used as a very fancy wedding venue. It was beautiful. At the entrance are 8 large stone elephants, up some steps the ornate entrance arch leads into a large courtyard. The courtyard is decorated in frangipani trees, a rose garden, numerous fountains and the large window arches look back out onto the lake. We wandered all around, there's a look out point across the lake too. So pretty. Then back on the small boat, back to the mainland.

Next up, we went up into the City Palace. This is Rajasthan's largest palace and is built entirely in granite and marble. I didn't go inside, but the outside courtyards were pretty. From the ramparts of the palace there is a lovely view over the city, the box-like houses here are described as cream, rose and honeysuckle hues. Each city is a different colour!

The exit from the palace leads off into the maze of streets full of shops and cafes. Covering all the sides are hanging notebooks, clothes and miniature paintings. I had a great time wandering around the shops buying some little souvenirs. These painting shops were significantly cheaper than the workshop we were in yesterday and the art was of a similar quality, if not better. I found some I really liked and managed to get 3 for the same price I was quoted for 1 yesterday!

For lunch we stopped off in a small local cafe and had some curry! What else.

The Jagadish Temple is in the middle of all the shops just North of the palace. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The cream coloured temple structure was like a large pyramid, covered in detailed carvings of animals - apparently scenes from Lord Krishna's life. It was really pretty. Rows and rows of elephants, camels and others. There were lots of real chipmunk-like squirrels running around too. Cute.

It was a long 40 minute walk back to the hotel. I didn't notice how long it was on the way here - too busy browsing the shops! But by the time we got back, it was only an hour until we had to leave again to go to a cooking class.

Rather than walk the miles back, we caught a tuk tuk! The cooking class was on the roof of one of the buildings in the town - it had a lovely view across the town and back towards the palace. The class started at 6pm, so we watched the sunset and the palace gradually lighting up. It was really pretty.

The cooking class wasn't really all that great. In previous ones I've done (in Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia) we've had our own little work stations and followed along with instructions. This one was more just watching, while one of us got to do something. Not particularly exciting or informative!

We (watching) made masala tea, samosas (I rolled, filled and sealed one!), aubergine curry, lentil curry, paneer (the cottage cheese stuff) with spinach curry and chapatis. It took ages, but we finally got to eat. It was ok. Not the best meal we've had.
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