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Posts Tagged ‘Road trip in India’

 

Udaipur is a city of lakes. There are at least three major lakes – Pichhola, Fateh Sagar, Swaroop Sagar, and a minor one, Dudh Talai. Then there are others like Udai Sagar and Jasamand which are outside the city.

Of these, the main lake is Pichhola, around which the old city is built. Try and stay around this area as this is the happening area and has all major tourist attractions including the City Palace, Baghore-ki-Haveli, Ganghaur Ghat, Jag Niwas Palace (Under Taj Hotels’ management, run as the Lake Palace) and Oberoi’s Udai Vilas.

But don’t jump into a lake if you don’t find accommodation here. Udaipur is small city and you can get anywhere from anywhere within fifteen minutes.

From what I could gather, the best hotels here are around Lake Pichhola including the Lake Palace and Udai Vilas, if you’re in the mood to spend 30,000 a night. Otherwise too, there are good options (in order of preference and tariffs) including– Shiv Niwas Palace and Fateh Prakash (run by the HRH group of hotels which belong to the erstwhile Maharaja of Udaipur, Arvind Singh) Hotel Lake Pichhola, Haveli on the Lake, Mewar Haveli and Jaiwana Haveli.

Then there are other properties belonging to the Leela Group, the Oberois (Trident) and the Radisson Group. I don’t know where they are situated but the Bharat Hotels’ Laxmi Niwas Palace is on Fateh Sagar Lake, directly below the State Government’s Anand Bhawan. There is another good hotel Ram Pratap Vilas on Fateh Sagar Lake with an outstanding view from the restaurant, but they don’t have an alcohol license. Swaroop Vilas is another good option on Fateh Sagar Lake, but they, too, don’t have an alcohol license (they do serve beer, though).

Attractions – all the major attractions can be reached within 5-10 minutes, on foot, from jagdish Chowk.

The City Palace, though, from what I’ve heard, it is overrated. Not to mention expensive (Rs 50 for entry and 200 for camera). It is much better to visit Baghore ki Havel. Not only is BkH well preserved, it costs a fraction of what it costs to visit the City Palace. Plus you can always enter the City Palace compound by telling them you are going to visit the Government Museum. The government museum is located in one corner of the City Palace compound and they have to let you in without a ticket. So you can at least see the facade of the City Palace.

Other attractions include the Jagdish Mandir, Sheetalnath Jain Temple, Saheliyon ki Bari, Sukhadia Circle, Sajjan Niwas Gardens. For the goras, there are many exotic, spice and textiles markets around Hatipol going up to Delhi Gate and around the Bapu market area. I bought some really good, Sanghaneri print Jaipuri quilts from the Hatipol area for a very reasonable price.

Day excursions – Kumbhalgarh Fort, Ranakpur Jain Temples, Nathdwara for pilgrimage.

Two and a half days are enough for Udaipur. One for the attractions within the city, one for day excursions to Kumbhalgarh and Ranakpur and one half day for Nathdwara for devout Hindus.

 

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The next day, we left for Kumbhalgarh Fort and Ranakpur, both places worth seeing. We were late in leaving Mountainridge, disinclined as were to first, get up early and then hurry up a leisurely breakfast. I was enjoying my umpteenth cup of excellent coffee, outside in the crisp morning air and the gentle morning sun when with a start I realized it was 10.30!

So we hurriedly left for Kumbhalgarh. Apart from the obvious historical value, Kumbhalgarh enjoys architectural fame as well. We were told that the wall around the Fort marking the city’s perimeter, at over 36 kms long, is second only to the great wall of China. Considering that the great wall of China is several thousand kms long, we figured that something was off somewhere. Nevertheless, there it is.

It is a hilly road to Kumbhalgarh and we reached at 1 pm. Kumbhalgarh is over 600 years old and is the birthplace of Maharana Pratap. It is a reasonably well preserved fort. We did a relaxed tour of the place and also took some excellent pictures. By then, it was already 2 p.m. and kinda late of we wanted to go to Ranakpur as well. So we left from there and decided to forgo lunch.

On the way to Ranakpur, we stopped at a tea stall in Saira village to grab some samosas on the go. But the chai walla ruefully told us that the samosas weren’t hot but there was a daal baati wala nearby if we were interested. We beat such a hasty retreat to the daal baati wala we left dust in our wake. The baatis were hot and fresh, the daal steaming, and in spite of our protests, the owner thoughtfully emptied a whole cup full of ghee in our plates. After partaking of this quick and yummy lunch (two plates for Rs. 30) we were once more en route to Ranakpur and reached at 3.30.

And the Ranakpur Jain temples (actually temple. There is only one ancient temple. The rest our later additions) are white marble with intricate carvings, especially on the ceiling, like the Dilwara temples in Mount Abu. Actually if you’re going onto, or have been to, Mount Abu you can give this one a miss.

The claim to fame of the Ranakpur temple is that it houses some 1400 plus intricately carved pillars and that no one has been able to accurately count the number subsequently. Apparently various methods have been employed, but no go. Each census has thrown up a mistake.

We probably faced maximum frisking here. I was impressed, till someone told me it’s only to see if you’re smuggling a camera you haven’t paid for inside. Trust the Jains to have their fundas right.

On the way back, we stopped at Swaroop Vilas on Fateh Sagar Lake to enquire about accommodation. We were booked into Moutainridge only up to the 2nd.  At the reception, we were told that the tariff was Rs. 3500 a night. I tried to bargain figuring that all tourist destinations in India must be facing a slack after the Mumbai attacks. Not so. Swaroop Vilas had only a couple of rooms empty and were in no mood to reduce their rates. So we said no thank you to the room. But we did say yes to some yummy Lal Maans and Gatte in their restaurant. All for the princely sum of Rs. 200. Then it was back to Mountainridge, a warm fire, alcoholic drinks and bed.

Kumbhalgarh Fort

Kumbhalgarh Fort

 

 

Pillars inside Ranakpur Temple

Pillars inside Ranakpur Temple

 

Ceiling - Ranakpur Temple

Ceiling - Ranakpur Temple

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