Beside shimmering Lake Pichola, with the ochre and purple ridges of the wooded Aravalli Hills stretching away in every direction, Udaipur has a romance of setting unmatched in Rajasthan and arguably in all India. Fantastical palaces, temples, havelis and countless narrow, crooked, colourful streets add the human counterpoint to the city’s natural charms. If Jaipur is the pink city and Jodhpur the blue, Udaipur is the city of cream, rose and honeysuckle hues. (Lonely Planet on Udaipur)
I cannot agree more with Lonely Planet’s review. I should stay in Udaipur longer. Compared to other cities we visited, Udaipur was less hot and less touristy. Additionally, it was a beautiful city. We arrived in Udaipur at 10 am after 10 hours trip by a night train. The trip was delayed for three hours due to the flooding of some rail tracks. India experienced the flood that week and this catastrophe happens almost every year during Indian Summer Monsoon in June-September. Luckily our hotel, Lake Pichola Hotel, gave us the room before the official check-in time. The room was pretty, a room with little veranda viewing to the lake.
Udaipur was the capital of Mewar Kingdom that was ruled by Chattari Rajputs dynasty for more than 1000 years. Until British’ ruling in India, the kingdom became a princely state. The dynasty family of Mewar Kingdom still exist until now. The head of the family becomes the custodian of the kingdom. Current custodian is Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar. As a custodian, he also in charge in managing the family’s business; HRH Group of Hotels. One of the hotels belong to this group also located in Lake Pichola; Jagmandir Island Palace Hotel. It is one of luxurious hotels in the lake. The other one is belong to Taj Hotel group, Taj Lake Palace Udaipur, where James Bond’s Octopussy took place.
Our first visit in Udaipur was Gulab Bagh, a beautiful rose garden that was built in 1881. Then we visited the monument of Maharana’s legendary horse, Chetak. Chetak was well known for his bravery in protecting the Maharana Pratap in a war against Mughal’s battalion. His devotion saved the life of the Maharana. Aside to this monument, in 1976 the dynasty family also created Chetak Trust, a foundation that aimed to prevent cruelty to animals and to promote the humane treatment of all animals. The monument is located on top of Pearl Hill with the view of Fateh Sagar Lake. Later on we visited Mahasatiya, a cremation site of the kingdom’s dynasty. The place has large number of marble domes with beautiful Hindu sculptures and carvings. Additionally, our auto-rickshaw driver suggested to visit Udaipur’s vegetable market. It was actually a good idea. The market was full of female vendors tried to sell fresh products. They wore colourful Indian clothes. Excellence place to take portrait photography of Indians!
Of course, the trip would not complete if we did not visit the dazzling and enormous Udaipur’s City Palace. The palace is also home to Mewar kingdom’s custodian and his family. It is located on the east bank of Lake Pichola where visitors could also take a boat touring the lake.
And finally, Dutchie found a place where he can have a good coffee, Edelweiss Café. It is located nearby to Lal Gate. We also had a nice dinner at Udai Kothi Hotel’s rooftop restaurant, where we had for the first time, Indian’s wine, developed by local vineyard. It was Riviera’s viognier- clarirette. The taste was surprisingly good, it matched very well with Indian food. I wish they had Indian dessert wine back then to match with the South Asian delicious dessert, Gulab Jamun. Gulab Jamun is dumplings made from thickened milk soaked in rose-cardamom flavor syrup. Yummy!