We'll take the corner palace room, please.

Trip Start May 17, 2012
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Trip End Jun 03, 2012


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Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Tuesday, May 22, 2012

(S) Udaipur – what the travel books call the most romantic city in India. I can see why. The city sits in a small bowl with Lake Pichola, surrounded by mountains. In fact, 400 years ago when the Mewar Dynasty moved their palace from Chittorgarh to Udaipur, they made huge walls and gates to keep invaders out of this little valley.

We easily survived the night train and found a cab to our hotel, from the train station. Our hotel is once again amazing, but even more interesting than the first two. We are staying at the Fateh Prakesh, which is actually IN the city palace. The royal family still lives here, so we shared the inside of the palace with them, which is actually more of a complex of buildings than one single palace. There are two hotels inside the palace, both owned by the same company. They share a pool and numerous restaurants. Check in was easy and our room is quite lovely – it has large windows which look out over the lake and the lake palace. We had some breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Chad had a lassi, just like at the other hotels, but this one went a bit south. Literally. That's when the problems started. Chad got the gassy lassi. I went back to take a shower, since riding all night on the train makes one feel a bit like you’re crawling with bugs, and there wasn’t any hot water. This is fine in campgrounds, but not when you are paying a great amount of money for a hotel. Next: the toilet wouldn’t flush. Remember the earlier comment about the lassi. Finally, as we got ready to walk around the city, we realized the in-room safe doesn’t work. Whew. I almost felt sorry for the poor guy who came to address these concerns – he didn’t seem that concerned about any of them. Chad soon made him concerned. We then loaded up our day pack and headed out into the 105 degree Udaipur heat to explore the city. As this place is pretty touristy, we get a constant barrage of helpful "shop here" “good price” “boat ride” “good guide” “beautiful pashina.” We just keep walking while avoiding the rickshaws, motorbikes, cars, and cows who all share the narrow streets.

The first stop was actually a different hotel to see if we should move, which was rated very well in our guide book (Rough Guide). While it was 1/5 of the price of our current place, we decided to stay in our 3 room suite, even with a non-working toilet. Next, we visited a Jain temple, Jagdish built in 1651, in the middle of town. One must remove their shoes when entering a Jain or Hindu temples, so there are pieces of canvas flapping overhead, like a tent to keep the sun partially off the stones. If not, you wouldn’t have any skin left – it’s that hot. There are also pieces of fabric, sometimes carpet, sometimes burlap, laying out a path to the temple to protect the feet. We climbed the hot steps to get inside, where Jain faithful were sitting on the ground, singing and playing a drum in praise. The sound put a catch in my throat. The rhythm and the cadence of the singing sounded so much like a funeral song of the Northern Cheyenne, I nearly burst into tears.

By this time, we had already been cornered by a little man, who had deformed eyes. He informed us he was an art teacher and taking 11 students to New Mexico next week. He also told us his father was a priest at this temple and he lives here. Uh huh. He then insisted we follow him to his “art school.” While we have been on this ride before, we didn’t have much else to do, so we followed him down the stairs and across the street to his art school. Here he introduced us to his “teacher” who was sitting in a small room with 2 other men, pretending to paint miniature paintings. The teacher then took us into another room and proceeded to show us exorbitantly overpriced miniature paintings on camel bone and tell us the first meeting is all about friendship and having tea and no business. When I later told him I needed to “think about it” regarding buying one of his pieces, he got a visibly upset and started slamming the paintings back in the cabinet. We then left. So much for his graciousness and “no business.” We knew what we were getting into, though, so it was all part of the experience.

We climbed back up the hill towards the City Palace and decided to take the tour of the old, original royal palace. Again, you will just have to enjoy the photos as every room in this place is something different and often from a different royal. One reoccurring theme was that of the military exploits of Pratap Singh, and his very loyal and fearless horse, Chetak, who even though was mortally wounded in one battle, still managed to carry his master to safety. The current royal horses’ were on display in their stable downstairs. They mostly looked hot. Again, in this palace we made lots of friends, mostly in the form of children, but also their parents who wanted to shake our hands and take photos with us.

By this time we had been outside in blistering heat for about 10 hours. Ok, so it was only about 3, but it felt like 10. We walked deeper into the city palace, to our hotel, where it was obviously time to go for a swim. While the pool is lovely, it is a bit of a walk, because we have to walk around the royals’ house and past a few guards to get there. It would be like if there were two hotels inside the fence of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Oh – and all the problems got fixed while we were out! To make up for all the issues, the hotel gave us a bottle of wine (Australian chardonnay – why do they always assume we want something not from there?) and some little snacks. After a nice shower, we opened the wine, sat in our window seat which overlooked the lake, and watched the sun go down. The light was beautiful, outlining the Lake Palace, the Monsoon Palace, and even Octopussy’s boat, which it appears you can have dinner on. Yes, this is one of the most romantic places we have ever been, not just in India.

Dinner was at the hotel, outside, next to the pool. Yes, it is still a gazillion degrees, but it’s in a palace, next to a pool. Yes, we chose to sit outside. Here we had more grilled cheese with onion (yum) and mushrooms stuffed with dates and cheese and mint. Oh my gosh! Chad had chicken biryani and I had chicken lababdar. By this time, Chad was a bit delirious, as he hadn’t recovered from the gassy lassi yet, and was out of it. And we had a big day ahead of us, so off to bed, in our corner turret room, in an Indian palace. I feel like an Indian princess J Which of course I already am.
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Comments

threadbaresoul
threadbaresoul on

I'm so happy to have the regular updates on this trip!! It's fascinating. I had no idea India could be like this. And I hope you're finding something elegant to take home for Max. Something with gold fringe. :)

threadbaresoul
threadbaresoul on

The "art teacher"!
I'm afraid I'd have purchased something, simply for the memory of the "art teacher" and his display.
Still...the lassi....sorry, Chad, but I'm just thinking anything with yogurt in that kind of heat is gonna be a bad idea.
DON'T think of lassi-ing me when I come back to Boulder!

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