We arrived in Udaipur from Ahmedabad, which to us, felt like a breath of fresh air. Literally. Ahmedabad was like any other massive city in India. Big, busy, beeping, and binless. So when we got to the peaceful (by Indian standards), lakeside city of Udaipur in Rajasthan, we slept. Without the sound of honking feeling like it was piercing our eardrums 24 hours a day.
Upon waking it was night time and we were hungry. So we set out to find a nice restaurant to fill our bellies. We found a nice place by the river, and I was filled with delight to be able to indulge in some Korean Kimchi Bokkumbap (unsurprisingly not as good as I had hoped), whilst watching the water glisten in the night time breeze, under the lit arched bridges to our right and left. You could be forgiven for feeling like you are in Venice as you walk along the river here. But the colourful and bright Hindu temples and the royal palaces give away the Indian heritage of this very historical city. Many people we met throughout our Indian trip cited Udaipur as their favourite place in Rajasthan. We could not decide just yet as it was the first place we visited. But we certainly liked it a lot.
The next day we visited the City Palace, and had our first of many lessons about the Maharajah in Rajasthan, who were essentially a number of ruling kings, before Rajasthan officially became a part of the new India. Not that I can remember much of it. There are too many new terms, titles, names, dynasties and places to really comprehend this massive period of history without significantly more research and study. However, the gist of what I got was that the Rajaputs were fierce and brave warriors, but their pride lead them to be weakened by internal squabbles, which in turn lead to their domination by the Mughal Empire. The Rajaputs did eventually regain independence from the Mughals, and maintained this even when the British Raj entered India. However, they did have to make some political and economic concessions when allying themselves with the British, which, in time, lead to them joining India and forgoing their independence once the British Raj left.
As well as the City Palace, there is an old dilapidated Palace on the top of a massive hill called Monsoon palace. We hired the cheapest moped we could find to ride up this mountain. This turned out to be a big mistake, when we realised that our very low powered bike could not carry both of us up this mountain. Even with Craig on it alone (and me running behind), he had to use his feet like a 3 year old on their first bike, using pure leg power to get himself up. Luckily, true to form, India turned up, and after a few cars and mopeds filled with very amused people laughing at our misfortune went past, we got the offer of a lift and were at the top before we knew it. We found a nice little spot in this grand old empty palace to watch the sunset, with the people, monkeys and birds.
On our final day in Udaipur, as we wondered down to the Ghats to see what all the fuss was about, we got collared, hook line and sinker by an ‘artist’. He asked us our names and where we were from, when we told him England, he told us he was going to he NEC next year for an art exhibition to show his art. We obviously got super excited that he new about the NEC and he got us into his workshop, giving us a demo of how he paints, and showing us all his, and his teacher’s work. Now don’t get me wrong, he could have been a talented artist. We did buy a beautiful little silk painting for 800 Rupees, which doesn’t seem that much, and after a trip to the ATM (Absolute classic India, we had to walk around for 30 minutes and finally found money in the 4th ATM), we paid the man and left. However, now that we were looking out for paintings, we saw that MANY other shops had very similar styles of paintings, and for a lower price. On the bright side, we never fell for that sales tactic again. And trust me, many people tried.