Monday, January 21, 2013

Udaipur


I have so much to write about...but I am so tired.  But I really need to get caught up, at least a little bit:

I arrived in Udaipur on the sleeper train at about nine in the morning.  Next time I have the energy, I'll write more about that experience.  [Edit: post added] Anyhow, I got a tuktuk to my hostel, which turned out to be wonderful.  I have my own little room off of a sunny courtyard; the doors are a light turquoise.  There is a little restaurant on the roof, with a view out over the city.

I'll write more about my experiences later, but here are a couple of pictures:  the first is of the palace at sunset, as seen from a boat out on the lake.  The second is the sunset over the lake.  Udaipur is a beautiful place...

And now, it's later. Okay...I was quite frozen and a bit hazy from a night of uncomfortable sleep.  So, after I checked in and unloaded all my stuff, I headed up to the rooftop restaurant.  I sat in the sun, ordered tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich (the soup was wonderful, some of the best tomato soup I've ever had, but the sandwich was dry and tasteless), and read while I thawed.  I enjoyed the view out over the city from up there.

Finally, in the afternoon I got up the energy to head out into the town.  One of the hostel owners gave me a map and directions with how to get to the major things, but I apparently didn't listen too well.  That, and things didn't look like I expected them to look, so I missed the landmarks I was supposed to be watching for.  I was wanting to go down to the lake and walk along the shore, but it turns out that there are buildings down to the shore, and it's not the kind of lake front you walk along.  Not knowing that, I figured walking downhill would lead me to it (Udaipur is built on hills; it seems everywhere I went was uphill both ways).  No matter, though, the walk through streets lined with shops of every sort was interested in itself.

Most of the shops were designed in a very different way than I'm used to:  a ditch runs alongside the road, and there is a step over it into the shops, which are set up a step from the road.  The shop fronts are completely open across the front, and the floor is completely covered with a huge mattress-like pillow.  Everyone leaves their shoes at the entrance, and the shopkeeper sits cross-legged on the pillow behind or next to his (low) counter.  The customers also sit down to examine the wares.  Some of the more touristy shops do not follow the pattern, and are arranged just as a western shop, but the local shops all seemed to be that way.

Anyhow, I finally turned back, and after asking a few shopkeepers (more than one, because the first one looked confused and I could tell he was just pointing a random direction because he understood I was asking for directions, but couldn't understand where I wanted to go), I made it to the city palace.  Before going in, I walked down a little side road to a small opening onto the lake, and I realized the layout of the city; there was no walk along the lake, just different points to come out to it.

The city palace is the most popular sight in Udaipur; I had planned to wait to go there the next day, but it was still only about 1:30, so I had plenty of time.  Udaipur was the capital of the kingdom of Mewar, before India was united.  The palace was built by the Maharana Udai Singh II in 1559, and used by the ruling family for the next three hundred years.  

After I finished touring the palace, I bought a ticket for a sunset boatride on the lake.  The tickets for the boats are quite cheap during the day, but they double for the four and five o clock boats; however, sunset is really the time for the best views, so they know what they're doing.  The boat ride turned out to be wonderful; the city palace and the city behind it were golden in the sunset light.  The boat went out to a small island, entirely covered by a very elegant hotel and gardens, and then back to the palace. The top picture was taken from the boat, and the bottom one looking back over the lake just after I got off the boat.  What a beautiful day...

I went back to the hostel, and went up to the little rooftop restaurant.  At this point, I still hadn't had any actual Indian food, so I ordered some Chicken curry, which didn't turn out exactly as I expected, but tasted good.  I also ordered dessert...how could I resist when I saw nutella pancakes on the menu?



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