9 Jan 2016

Chintu Travels 2015 Day 1,  Unfinished Business-Udaipur

Unfinished Business.

Choosing a destination for a two week vacation in India is tough. We have so many beautiful places to see. My 2015 plan has gone through a lot of revisions, From the 7 sister states in the North East to the Grand South Indian Peninsula, to a trail down the western coast. Making your mind about what to see and what to skip is often the toughest decision I have to make.

This years trip begin with Udaipur.
"But you were in Rajasthan last year!"
"Isn't this repetitive?"
"Same thing again?"

These are the question I got when I told the people around me that I am beginning my trip with Udaipur, there questions were well targeted, I did go to Rajasthan last year, I did see a lot of places, I didn't see Udaipur. And given that how different it is from the entire sandy charm of Rajasthan, it made sense, and in some sort of a way give continuation to my trip.

"I just took a break and now I begin from where I left"

So, there on the night of the 18th December, the rucksack was now a backpack with a lot of crumpled up clothes. This years trip was going to be different, I had set a daily limit of Rs 1000 for the trip, food, accommodation, sightseeing, every other thing that costs money, included.

Before I set on the trip, I noticed that my camera's charger wasn't working. Doing a trip without a camera is tough for me, sure the adventure is still there, but the photos are a reminder to the forgetful brain about what I did also unlike the hardcore backpacker who travels just to explore places, I travel to take photos, photos which I use for the remainder of the year to write stupid poetry, which only makes sense(Sic) when read with the photo in front of you.

Day 1. Udaipur, the city of lakes.

After shivering in windy sleeper class coach of Indian Railways all night, I was surprised that the train wasn't running late, it almost never happens that a train in Northern India is running on time in the winter season, I felt this was my lucky day. I got down at the city station, a bunch of auto drivers jumped at me one holding my hand pulling me towards his auto and the other constantly asking me for my destination. I smiled at both of them and somehow managed to get their grips off me. They moves on to other people who had got down from the train. While the other passengers haggled with the auto drivers, I haggled with my phone, searching for the hostel on my map.

I had had no physical activity for the past week, unless you count pushing you body into the metro coach every morning and every evening and then staying stuck in one corner for the next hour and half as one. I decided to walk the 3 kilometers to my hostel, because my legs needed some rushing blood, because it is often the best way to explore a city, because it's healthy, and most importantly because it's FREE.

Udaipur is a beautiful city with clean roads and little traffic, with magnificent artificial lakes. The most prominent being the Lake Pichola, with most of the tourism industry and The city palace thriving around it.

The day began with me buying essential stuff like the toothbrush,toothpaste, and a new camera charger, effectively finishing my daily budget, as the rest was supposed to paid for food and for accommodation. After the charger was secured I set out for exploring the city, the first destination was the ghat behind the hostel, the sun shining over the aravallis, the grand palaces in the middle of the lake, chugging boats,and birds drying their feathers is a view not to miss.

Lake Pichola with the palaces in it and the Aravallis in the background.

I moved to the city palace complex from there, it is a pain that all these palaces have separate charges for camera often being too expensive. The city palace has a camera fee of 250 rupees added to the 250 Rupees entry fee plus another set of entry and camera fee for some sections which I had decided to skip. The city palace is one of the grandest palace in the entire of Rajasthan, I say this after I've seen almost entire Rajasthan. The palace tells a tale of the past era of the Mewar Kings, The battle of Haldighati and the story of Chetak, the loyal horse of Maharana Pratap. It takes at-least a couple of hours if you see everything in detail.
The City Palace

The city of Udaipur from a Palace window.

After coming out of the palace, the first thing I did was to have the Kachori Chaat and a glass of tea, I moved to the ghats of lake Pichola again, this time the other side of the lake via the bridges that resemble venice(Udaipur is also called the venice of India).

 Kachori Chat and Tea

After you cross the bridges and walk deep into the lanes, you'll notice that after a few minutes of walking the cacophony and buzz that is on the areas near the lakes is gone. You enter the real udaipur, the Udaipur where people live regular lives and are not dependent on tourism, in these lanes beyond the commercialization on the lake shore, every house in Udaipur has a colorful wall art on the exterior, usually dedicated to Maharana Pratap. Even messages like "Open your shoes outside" are written in colorful graffiti, there are kids cycling, playing on the streets, sometimes blocking the entire lane. I came back from the other side of the lake took a rest at the hostel for a couple of hours, letting the amazing view sink in,  later in the evening I went deep into lanes this side of the lake, which for mostly consists of hotels, restaurants, and handicrafts stores. I did come across a tibetan market selling winter clothes, I was expecting to get some tibetan food too, but didn't find anything.

Wall art outside houses

By the time I reached the hostel it was 8 PM already, I had walked approximately 20 kilometers all day. I took a warm shower and sat on the roof, you cannot have enough of that view.
Udaipur night skyline over the lake

 I was supposed to visit chittorgarh the next day, but was changing the route to Kumbalgarh. Both the cities had a fort, The one in Kumbhalgarh was famous for it's long walls, also called "The Great wall of India" and I had to make a choice between the forts, 


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