Ode to Udaipur: Footloose in the lake city
When a group of young women out of university decided to let down their hair in the ‘White City’, still smitten by the hangover of the film 'Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani', well it did go off like a dream
It’s 5:54 in the evening and we’re on our way to the railway station. My friend and I open our phones to check our seat numbers. She turns to me, “Gary, the IRCTC website shows that our train will depart at 6:15.” But, but…but the ticket says it is 6:40 pm. What do we do now? We’ll probably miss the train.
Well, we do the only thing that comes to our mind. Turn to the rest of the group to say, “Listen, the train is either leaving in 20 minutes or 40 minutes, we’re not sure. Just run to the platform as soon as you get out of the auto, okay?” And that is how our four-day trip to Udaipur ended. We can’t really complain, we wanted an adventurous trip, and that’s what we got- every second of it. But let’s back up a little.
Okay, so after an eternity (or what some people say was only a year and a half) of staying inside, we needed a break. My friends from college and I decided to go to Udaipur, a sort of a reunion trip, before my birthday and before their internships started. The plan was absolutely random. How did we land on the decision to go to Udaipur? Lots of travel vloggers posting aesthetic reels from there, and of course the Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani hangover that’s still there.
After a lot of coordinating and requesting parents for permission, we finally landed in the City of Lakes. Honestly, for a city that is famous for its lakes, Udaipur doesn’t really keep its tourist attraction clean.
On our first day, while boating in the Fateh Sagar Lake, we came across something that was sort of the anti-Bermuda Triangle. You know how tons of things have been lost in the Bermuda Triangle, never to be found? Right in the middle of the Fateh Sagar Lake, you’ll find a circle of trash floating- nowhere else, just that one circle.
But that aside, the lake was beautiful. And even though Udaipur was scorching hot in the second week of October, the cool breeze on the lake worked like a magic potion. Right next to the lake was a dam, a small waterfall and a Pal, that were all closed to tourists due to the pandemic.
Our next stop was Maharana Kumbha Sangeet Parishad. Earlier, a place called Bagore ki Haveli used to host a set of Rajasthani cultural and folk performances, but that too had to be closed down during the pandemic. Thankfully for us, the performers shifted to the Sangeet Parishad. We saw a one-hour show that had puppets dancing, folk music, ghoomar dance, peacock dance and more. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that the performers were supremely talented. Sitting in the first row, there wasn’t a moment we weren’t in awe of the acts, and wanting to get up ourselves and join them on stage.
Our second day there was nothing short of a fairytale. We learnt about history at the City Palace, basked in the magnificence of the place and twirled in the sheesh mahal. We took a ropeway to Karni Mata temple and saw the entire city from the hilltop. (We also kind of imagined ourselves in a Bollywood movie, mountains on all sides, overlooking lakes, a cool breeze and amidst all that, us contemplating our lives.) At sunset, we quietly boated across Lake Pichola and sat at Jagmandir, an island palace in the lake. To end the day on a perfect note, dal baati choorma came to our rescue.
Did you know that Udaipur is called the White City because people painted their houses white as it was the only way to keep their homes cool when it got extremely hot? Huh, I guess there’s a lot you learn when you take a guide along.
Anyway, the next day we took a little detour and decided to explore places near Udaipur. We went to the Kumbhalgarh Fort, which has the second-longest continuous wall in the world, only after the Great Wall of China. Interestingly, the fort situated in Mewar, overlooks Marwar. Some believe that it was built in such a way that people from inside the fort could keep a check on any movement that happened in the region, but people from outside wouldn’t even know that there was a fort, that’s how well it was camouflaged back in the day.
We learnt two lessons while hiking to the top of the Kumbhalgarh fort. One, our fitness levels are awful for 21-year olds. And two, the view was worth the breathlessness.
We also saw the Jain temple in Ranakpur, which is some 90 kms away from Udaipur. Apparently, Jainism had a big role to play in Rajasthan, and its influence is still prevalent. How then could its majestic architecture stay behind? Safe to say, the place was a treat to the eyes.
For our last day, we roamed the markets of Hathi Pol and Old City, collecting souvenirs in the form of bandhani dupattas and bangles made of laakh. We also saw Saheliyon ki Bari, a palace 4 kms away from the Old City, made solely for the queens and their maids, so that they could relax without their ghoonghats.
The guide there played a prank on us. But I’m not going to tell you that because you ought to visit the place at least once, and make a total fool of yourself, just like we did. It’ll be a memory you’ll cherish for a long time!
Oh, but wait, that's not the dreamy note our trip ended on. On the train from Udaipur to Delhi, a co-passenger indulged in a conversation with us. The first thing he asked us was, "Aap bhi Dilli jaa rahe ho?", the second- "Aap log ki jaat kya hai?" Well, back to real life, I guess!
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Published: 22 Oct 2021, 10:00 PM