Oasis in Udaipur
The view from the jharokha (window seat) in our room at Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel on Lake Picchola is indescribable, so I’ll let the picture speak for itself.
Udaipur, nicknamed “The Lake City”, or “The White City”, or “The Venice of India” is all of the above. As my title suggests, it is remarkably clean and serene by Indian standards, mostly due to its impressive man-made lake and its protected position among the hills and mountains. We arrived here yesterday in the pouring rain, which is something we’ve come to appreciate in India. Rain means monsoon, and monsoon means relief from the intense heat.
This morning we enjoyed a tour of maharanah’s city palace which stands out on a tour of forts and palaces as the most beautiful and well-maintained. The maharanah and his family live in a residence adjacent to the palace and own the three five-star hotel properties here. He’s clearly invested in his businesses and family legacy, but appears to contribute much to the community at large as well. For instance, there’s a school on the palace grounds and he sponsors another school to train young artists in Udaipur’s style of traditional painting ( with brushes fashioned humanely from camel eyelashes and squirrel tails). Udaipur’s other claims to fame? It was prominently featured in the 007 film, Octopussy, and was gifted the spectacles worn by Ben Kingsley when he played Gandhi in the 1980s biopic. Not surprisingly, Indians are immensely proud of that film.
On a personal note, I think we’re both a little exhausted on this final night, but in a good way. Our nine days here were packed, intense, and awesome–in the old fashioned sense of the word. T has been a real trooper but I know he doesn’t love history the way I do, and probably couldn’t take one more fort. I had to chuckle when he started asking up front at ticket offices yesterday, whether he’d have to take off his shoes. We’ve been in so many temples and mosques, braving hot, dirty concrete under our feet and hot, communal robes on our backs
(okay, just my back) that it had be pretty tough for my husband, the germophobe. That being said, he didn’t skip one shoe-free zone, though he regrets not packing disposable socks:)