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Monday, 5 August 2013

Udaipur - Lake, Palace, Museums

On the first day in Udaipur, we decided to go through a few sights that would be guided by our cab driver. We planned, as usual, to take it easy and cover a few places during the day, with some rest in the afternoon, followed by evening visit/shopping. The natural first stop was for the boat trip in the very famous Pichola Lake. We all longed for a trip to that Lake palace, but are immediately disappointed to know that it is out of bounds for anyone who does not stay at the hotel! Entry to the Taj Lake Palace, as shown in the James Bond movie, Octopussy, is only allowed for those who book a night or more at the hotel, and stay there. Well, who needs to go into the palace. It is likely to be full of algae, fungii, etc. (or actually sour grapes, isn't it :-) )

Lake Palace - view from boat

The boat ride from near the garden took us around the Taj Lake palace in anti-clockwise direction, first showing us a wonderful view of the City Palace. The majestic palace that extends 100s of meters along the lake is simply awesome. As we turn and take a closer look at the Taj Lake Palace, we are also pointed to the Leela Palace and the Trident on other shores of the lake. It must be really serene to spend many days along the lake in such beautiful surroundings. We ride along closer to Jag Mandir before the trip came to an end. As it was not the peak period, the overall experience was nice and calm without any rush.

Part of Lake Palace on left, with the full City Palace at the back - view from boat in Pichola Lake

The next place to visit was the Karni Mata Temple atop a hillock near the Pichola Lake. One can take a shared rope-car (which may need a wait for 15-20 minutes to collect more people) or pay for a full rope-car (like we did, to avoid the delay) - definitely pretty costly (was about 500 rupees, I think, in 2012). We decided to hurry and get the trip done quickly in order to get back to the hotel before 2 PM. The panoramic view of Udaipur is very nice indeed from this hillock. Construction work was in progress at the temple and expansion was also seen on couple of sides. After taking in a full view of Udaipur, the Pichola lake, the various palaces and gardens, we came down without wait.

Glass work in City Palace
A trip around City Palace was the next item on the agenda and we decided to go with a guide. Though the palace is a long narrow building (or set of buildings), the number of floors and rooms, make it quite imposing. We took about 2 hours to cover it along with the guide (and we think the guide took a smart short cut near the end, cutting it short probably by another half hour). The art work, architecture, carvings, glass-work, paintings, living quarters, facilities in those times, etc., are really fascinating. The palace, having been built around a mound, has trees growing on the 4th floor - that is 4th level, but that part is actually on the mound itself. It is indeed interesting piece of architecture and usage of the land around that area.

Inner Courtyard - with glass art and carvings
Overall, it was a very long walk around the palace and it was getting close to lunch time. We decided to take lunch at the Garden Hotel, which is also in same compound as the Vintage Car Museum of the House of Mewar. After the stroll around seeing all the cars, carts and other vehicles of the Maharanas we had lunch at the Garden hotel, before heading back to our resort. A good couple of hours of rest was ordered before a change of plan took us to the visit of Nathdwara temple and Eklingji temple. There is very limited opening hours and aarti timings at Nathdwara and we were able to make it to the afternoon darshan. Evening stop at Eklingji was also very nice to take in, with the view of extensive architecture of these old temples. One wonders where the crowd comes from, as both were quite crowded. I think it was an auspicious day as well, which added to the crowd, but mostly it was pretty organized and not much of pushing/shoving, which happens during crowded times.

View of Lake Palace from City Palace
We were not done for the trip around Udaipur, though it was enough for the day. One of the tidbits we learnt is that the Custodianship of City palace museum, Vintage car museum, variety of hotels, temples, etc., are with the House of Mewar and is not with the Government (Rajasthan or India). One should say that all these places are being maintained well by this House of Mewar.

1 comment:

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