Just Emkaying: Weekend Getaways: Udaipur

Aug 4, 2014

Weekend Getaways: Udaipur

The Glory of Udaipur. Seen here - Jagmandir, Taj Lake Palace, Fateh Prakash Palace, Oberoi Udai vilas, Lake Pichola
Hello you marshmallows.

How are you doing? Hows the weather? Is it raining heavily? Is it getting all foggy? Do you feel that the general public's notion of monsoon being romantic or being perfect for a cuppa coffee or tea, is a little too much?

Let me say a bit here. When the British left this country, they handed over a Mumbai that was equipped with drains. However, they obviously weren't clear in their bye-bye notes, because somewhere down the line the municipality, in keeping with our new traditions (the one where test tube babies were made in India, circa Ramayana / Mahabharata) decided the drainage was a waste of time, and water should be allowed to run along, like the force of nature that it is. So our roads are basically waterways and what you call potholes, are rather strategically placed markers that are used as a rating system for general incompetence and to direct the flow of water across roads. What fun.

In case you stay in more challenged locations off core Mumbai (the suburbs they call it), you get the pleasure of being crammed like cattle in "locals", and get to smell a special blend of deodorant with sweat, depending on your height and the arm pit next to you.

So forgive me, if I say I hate the monsoons in Mumbai when I am not in my cosy castle.

Now that we've got that outta the way, I recently had the opportunity to escape to Udaipur over a weekend with fellow world wide traveler V.

Our agenda to travel to the beautiful twin lake city of Udaipur was simple - avoid the Mumbai monsoon. And we were quite serious about this, given that we covered 726.8 km to ensure success. V had pre booked the accommodation in a place called Hotel Krishna Niwas (Rs 2730 for two nights). This is right next to Jagdish Mandir, a prominent Temple and a tourist destination. This temple is complete with sophisticated, Davidoff cool water wearing, Fast-a-track shade sporting, French speaking Gujarati guides and Sadhu Baba's who will pose for 10 bucks.

Photography 1 Astrology 0
The are lots of these very neat, clean and helpful hotels lined up all along the way.They're air conditioned, and most offer fantastic food at the roof top that has amazing views and breeze. They also give you advice with maps (FTW!!!) on where you should go, how and when. A day by day itinerary, for FREE.

On Day 1 we went to aforementioned temple, albeit for non religious purposes. V was hell bent on sneaking up on this big turban wearing dude, while I used my Nikon DSLR to do sophisticated photography of a squirrel and two statues making out with each other. Exhilarating.

Squirrel. Epic.

The next stop was a quick walk down to the City Palace Museum where we indulged in selfies (albeit for scientific and social experiments) It's about 10 steps from the Temple, which is about 5 steps from the Hotel. The Museum is a good-to-see, and has a lot of tiny rooms and gardens that are interlaced with narrow and steep staircases (as a safety measure - building bottle necks to nullify huge armies attacking the palace). A proper visit requires a good 5 hours, we did this in 3. This Palace then leads to a Queens Palace and a Shiv Niwas Palace (actually a hotel) and then a Fateh Prakash Palace.

The City Palace Museum
At this point I stopped tracking the Niwas'es and Palace's.

All these border the beautiful Lake Pichola, on which you have the Taj Lake Palace (Octopussy and YJHD fame) and Jagmandir Island Palace. There's a boat ride every hour, and the rates double after 4pm. As we wanted a memorable trip that did not compromise on quality, we went for the cheaper option. This boat circles around the lake and then lands at the Jagmandir Palace (also hotel) where you can roam around and take in the view, fresh air and drink a beer.

By the time we completed the return to the mainland it was close to 5. We decided that the most thrilling thing at this point would be to make a fat guy walk a kilometer uphill to the famous-in-Udaipur Cable car ride to the sunset point. Luckily I'm a fit guy who can do such tasks in an hour. (Please note, if you travel in July and anyone (including the internet) tells you that the sun sets  at 6.50 or nearabouts, push them off a cliff.) The Manasapurna Karni Mata Ropeway (or Cable Car in guy speak) is a creaky but safe looking ride that lasts a few minutes to the top of a hill that has a temple and a platform to view the entire lake and all its attractions. Unfortunately, the sky was foggy and the sun refused to set.

From Sunset point - At 6.50, the sun as you see, has no plan of setting, ever. 
On the way up, we were accompanied by two kids who had just joined a reputed software company, and part of a huge troupe of guys who behaved like rowdy monkeys, and indulged in cat calls to the chick-of-the-group from the top of the hills. I feel proud of the future of this country, in such able hands. Anyway, the kid in our car started going "I can't breathe" and clutching his chest mid way, clearly vertigoishness. An expert as I am in such things, I immediately engaged him in conversation to distract him - "Do you know a fall from here would definitely kill us?"

No, seriously I just asked him polite questions and if he had a girlfriend. Madan 0 - random kid with new job 1.

Anyway, we had a 7pm traditional folk show to catch at Bagore ki Haveli .It's a museum with traditional culture and arts, which we had to skip. We arrived late so we were given special front row chairs with a decent looking couple (which we later realized was the district commissioner) The whole place was filled with beautiful people all seated on the floor with cameras ready to shoot. The show was absolutely beautiful and poignant, and made me think how the lack of awareness and respect for such beautiful arts is a loss that we will never be able to recover.


We went to the Jagat Niwas Hotel for dinner, a recommended visit. Balconies over the Lake and a breeze to die for. With a view of the lit up Taj Lake and Jagmandir. MUAH.

The Monsoon Palace, beats me why it has to be so high up.
Next day was Bike riding day. Udaipur is a city with two man made lakes, Lake Pichola and Lake Fateh Sagar. We hired a bike to cover the much heard of Monsoon Palace or Sajjangarh fort and the Fateh Sagar Lake, including a trip to Saheliyon ki Bari. Now the trick here is that unless you know to ride a bullet or are two lightweight people on a 150cc+ bike, you can't go up the hills. It's just too steep a climb with curves. So I decided to solo it, while V caught on to a convenient Car service that exists at the bottom of the hill. The view from the palace is fantastic, and I believe its the only point from which you can see both the lakes together.

Saheliyon ki Bari is basically a garden of Maidens, without any maidens in it right now (Mch). It has a central fountain which is neat, and a nice garden. (Duh!) The Fateh Sagar lake isn't very impressive, reminding me of the Ulsoor lake in Bangalore. Aparently there are fountains in it, but we didn't spot any.

We then roamed around a bit before heading to the most luxurious looking property I have ever been to. The piece de resistance, the creme da la creme of hotels in Asia, The Oberoi Udaivilas. Splendid architecture, sprawling gardens with peacocks, and pools. We chilled here for about an hour, had a drink and quickly split to do some shopping.

The Oberoi Udaivilas "take photo here and show off" lawns. 
Udaipur is a great place to buy hand made paintings on silk, leather items and fancy shoes. I recommend the paintings, but do go to a painter and not a commercial shop. They won't bargain, while the painter I went to dropped his overall price from 700 to 300.

We then took a taxi back to the airport midst much sadness.

Overall, here's a summary of approx costs:

1. Flight tickets - Rs 5500 per head when booked 2 months in advance
2. Hotel - Rs 2800 for two nights, double bedroom sharing.
3. Car and Bike - Rs 1800 ( airport pick and drop, bike ride for one day 400)
4. Food and Tickets - Rs 3500 (Note, we dined once each at the Oberoi and the Shiv Niwas palace)

In all, it was a great getaway. We woke up at 10, and we slept past 12. So there was no mad rush to see this and see that. We had a good time. An additional day would have been good. The food is really good, and the continental breakfast of burgers and pies at the Edelweiss Cafe is brilliant.  If you have a few more days, you can also visit the Srinathji mandir and Chittor which are a few hours away.

Now as you know, my tradition of covering travels has to be interspersed with general melodrama, because if you wanted real travel coverage you'd go to a travel site and not here. You come here for epic stories (read the post script) or because I spammed your FB / Twitter / Insta / Pinterest / Whatsapp / Tumblr / Ask / Quora etc for your attention. So keeping this in mind, I'll give you the chance to be spared, and request you to share this and help me build my path to financial freedom.



PS: The Standoff with Yo Yo Honey Singh happened right in the middle of the road. We were returning from Oberoi when we were ambushed. V got off because the bike was a kick start and was difficult to start once it stopped. So while I stood firm in my trusty TVS Star,  Yo Yo Honey Singh landed up in his kick ass large SUV right in front of me.  We stood eye to eye for a minute before he finally decided I was too much to handle. And let me pass. Don't trust me? Ask V here

PS 1 - For more photos please join me on instagram at @2emkay Much love. 

1 comment:

  1. Informative blog my friend! Your blog is very useful for me. It is full of knowledge. Udaipur is a beautiful city in India. I’m never known about city but your blog is amazing for me. I want to go there after complete my bus tours west coast. I hope this city is memorable for me and best tour in my life.