27 Jan 2016

Chintu Travels 2015, Day 3. Udaipur Part 2. Cycling in the city of lakes.

The original plan for today was to visit Chittor and then board a train to Ahmedabad in the evening and I had started diverting from the plan since yesterday. Chittor was cancelled, Train to Ahmedabad was cancelled. Now the day was to be spent in seeing places in Udaipur I hadn't seen yet. The journey to Ahmedabad was going to take place on a bus and was going to begin tomorrow morning at 7. The Train takes 11 hours to reach Ahmedabad while the bus only takes 5.

Last night I had told Smit (one of the managers in the hostel) about I how I loved the Udaipuri nashta, he asked if I had tried the shop in the lane opposing the hostel lane. I hadn't. He said I had too.

The first thing I did after I got ready for the day was head to the shop. I tried the kachori chaat, and the poha chaat, with a glass of tea. Udaipuri food isn't very spicy, the chaats were more tangy than spicy. I loved both the chaats and the tea.

Kachori Chat. The Kachori is hidden below the all the goodies on top

Poha Chaat and Chai

I wanted to hire a cycle to explore the city, exploring on foot was too slow and exploring via public transport was too expensive. I found a place which had the kind of cycles I was looking for but they didn't give the cycle on rent and they were only available if you took a tour package, which I didn't want to take. Tour packages limit you by tying you to a strict schedule and limited activities. I asked around if there was someone who gave cycles on rent, one of the shopkeepers pointed me to a nearby lane, It was a garage which was renting out cycles, bikes, and scooters, Since I didn't have a driving licence I had to stick with a cycle, all the cycles looked to be in a dilapidated state, they were years old and hadn't been maintained well. I paid the deposit and submitted my id card and took a cycle.

I was already skeptical about the cycle, and my skepticism turned into a concern when I took it out for a ride, The gears were skidding, The cycle was unfit to go more than a few hundred meters without irritating the fuck out of me. A cycle ride is supposed to be a calming experience, it is supposed to be peaceful. With this cycle, I was losing my cool already. I went back to the shop and said I can't ride this one, and since none of the other cycles looked better than this one, I wasn't going to take any. The shop owner tried to tell me that I was riding the gears wrong, I had to stay fixed to a specific set of gears and not do certain activities, I told him that, I am not going to take the cycle, I am not used to riding this kind of cycles. I am better off walking if I had to follow your instructions to ride the cycle. I asked for my id card. He returned the ID card and the money back.

I came back to the hostel dejected, I told Mary(Another manager at the hostel, she ) that I was looking for a cycle and the one I got was crappy, I was planning to cover all the places on foot and minimal help from public transport and a bit of hitch hiking. She said she had a cycle and I could take it if I wanted too. I agreed on it immediately. It was a brand new 6 Speed city bike and was perfect for doing a city tour. I took the keys from her and started on the tour.

Mary's cycle

I had got a map of the city from the crappy cycle rent guy and I had marked places on it to visit. The first place I visited was Shilpgram, The word shilpgram means artisans village, these are fair grounds which host season fairs mostly related to arts and culture of the area.

This is the time when Udaipur hosts the Shilpgram festival, artists, dancers, handicraft makers from all over Rajasthan and nearby areas come to Udaipur to show their art. All of them are invited by the Rajasthan Government. One such performers group I encountered was Mathura Lal jis Kacchi Ghori Dance group, When I entered shilpgram they were just setting up the stage and I was the only one around, I started talking to one of the performers and took a selfie with him, he asked If I'd be interested in watching their performance, I was eager too. And having a performance all for myself, I felt like a Royal.
Kacchi Ghori is story telling by dance, the performers wear colorful costumes and have an equally colourful personality, these performers have been doing this for the past 30 years, the story they tell is of Veer Tejaji. You can listen more about him and his story from Mathura Lal Ji, the leader of the group in the video below. There were some other notable performances too. The famous Nimbuda Song and a street entertainer charming people with his wit.

The Kacchi Ghodi Group.

The next thing I tried was the Jodhpuri Thali, I had missed the thalis during my last trip to Rajasthan and I wasn't going to miss any food on this trip. The Thali had three kinds of Rotis, Two kind of curries and Kadhi, I topped the thali with a glass of Raabdi (not to be confused with the famous sweet Rabri, Raabri is a traditional Rajasthani warm drink made from wheat and curd, it is best eaten after meals to get the gastronomical fittings inside you working well). I was full, but then I noticed that there was a Jalebi and Kesar Milk stall. I ordered a plate of Jalebi and a Glass of Kesar milk and devoured it without leaving anything behind. If there is something I cannot resist, it is a hot plate of jalebi and milk. After taking a tour through the fair and going through other brilliant performances, I cycled to Fatehsagar Lake.

Jodhpuri Thali

Dudh Jalebi

Kathputlis in Handicraft

This guy was actually bald and used his moustache as a replacement for his hair, he would roll it and put it on his head
The Djinn and Charlie

Rajasthani Singers, They performed the beautiful Nimbuda song

The Nimbuda Song.

The Lake was mentioned in the Day 2 post. The lake has dedicated cycle tracks and art installations on its bank, the entire cycle circuit would be about 4-5 kilometers, I did a  couple of rounds around the lake and clicked a few photos. It was after 2 weeks that I was cycling, it felt liberating.

Fatehsagar lake

The art installation on the lakeside

After the lake I moved towards sajjangarh palace, it was on the outskirts of the town and was the highest point in Udaipur. The palace is set on the top of a hill and is famous for it breathtaking sunset view. I reached there at 4 PM and had a couple of hours before sunset, the plan was to cycle to the top. I went to the entry gate, the guard told me that a cycle wasn't allowed inside and I also had to take a ticket to enter. I parked the cycle and bought a ticket and came back to the entry gate. The guard told me that the ticket I bought was for the zoo and not the palace. The zoo had opened on the base of the hill on which the palace was, a lot of it was still under construction.

I am not very fond of zoos, I have visited the Nandankanan Zoo during my time in Bhubaneswar, but Nandankanan zoo is known for its conservation methods that help animals breed and get better, unlike other zoos where the animals are put in tiny suffocating cages and look like they are almost on the verge of dying. But I had bought a ticket to the zoo and it wasn't refundable. I decided to take a quick walk through it. The zoo was still under construction and very few animals. Apart from there was only a group of teenagers and a family inside the zoo. While the teenagers were interested in taking selfies with the group. The family was split, each one on it's own path. One of the guys in the family was repeatedly trying to get a selfie with a cheetah and got one after attempting it from 10 minutes and was emphatically showing it off to his family members, it was around 5:30 when I came out of the Zoo and bought a ticket to the Palace. This time, I was going to take a hike to the top but was again not allowed by the guard, he said it was too late for a hike and the Palace would close in an hour. I was asked to buy a ticket for a jeep taxi. The taxi was run by the management and would again bring me back, I could board any of the taxis whenever I wanted to come down.

Unlike the zoo, the palace was chock a block, I was welcomed by a screaming lady who was being ambushed by a langoor, I tried to stomp the langoor away but he ran after me, like the lade I too screamed and than tried to pick up a stone, the langoor ran away on seeing that I was picking up a stone. Every corner or the palace was filled with people trying to take a selfie against the setting sun. I looked around for a while and then took a positon and sat down, People kept coming in and kept taking photos of the sunset while I patiently waited for a shot. Finally, when there was a little less crowd, I took a few shots, I wasn't impressed with any of them, a few minutes later the caretaker of the palace started to blow a whistle, indicating that it was time for closure. I came back down in the taxi.

Udaipur from the highest point. Notice the two big lakes and the city in the middle.

The sunset from Sajjangarh

When I got down, I received a missed call alert message from an unknown number, when I called back, it turned out to be someone from the bus agency, my bus at 7 was cancelled, he asked if I wanted to move to another bus, I had to. I was moved to an even earlier bus, the one that was going at 5 AM. After the call, I rode back to the hostel, parked the bike, Gave the keys back to Mary, thanked her for everything, took a warm shower and then went straight to bed after the regular texting to friends and updating my family that I was okay. Gujarat ki Khusboo was waiting for me the next day.


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