I went to Udaipur for a friend’s wedding in February. I know it is June already and I should have posted this ages (MONTHS) ago. However, I got caught up with work and other weddings (I’m in that phase where all my friends are either married or getting there. My facebook photos feature me, beautifully and uncomfortably attired, at an assortment of weddings and my news feed is full of photos of people either getting married themselves or watching other people get married). I was also travelling simultaneously so this post stayed on the back burner for a really long time
Anyway, I was in Udaipur only for a couple of days and for the most part, I was busy with the wedding. However, since I am an opportunist, I managed to spend an entire afternoon sightseeing. Udaipur was the capital of the Rajput state of Mewar and is as glamorous as any of the other cities of the Rajputana and perhaps, more beautiful than some because it is dotted with a large number of lakes. If you remember the 1983 movie Octopussy featuring a beautiful lake palace, Roger Moore running around and shaking martinis as James Bond and an exiled Afghan/Indian villainous prince, you’ve already seen Udaipur. I have to add here, however, that the most memorable thing about the film was the number of saree clad European women who were circus acrobats involved in stealing Faberge eggs and putting Neal Caffery to shame.
That one precious afternoon, I managed to explore Udaipur’s principle attraction, the City Palace as well as a little bit of the quaint, old city around it. As a bonus, I also managed to visit a Chef-friend-recommended restaurant with a view to kill for.
The Udaipur City Palace was built by Maharana Udai Singh close to Lake Pichola, which (as wikipedia would inform you) is an artificial fresh water lake built in the year 1362 AD). Once I got inside (after having paid the steep-ish camera fee), I ran around like a gleeful child taking photographs of ruby and emerald rooms, terrace gardens, golden suns, pigeon coops and beheading doorways! I’ll leave the glorious history to the guide (you must have one of the approved guides of course) and show you the lovely pictures which will, hopefully, leave you wanting to visit! (I was going to say seething with envy but I decided to go with this instead).
Beautiful palace rooms:
The terrace garden:
An uber-expensive wall (tiled with rubies and emeralds):
A weighing scale I find myself unable to hate:
Cages for carrier pigeons:
Looking at the city through rose coloured glass:
The queens’ play area:
One of the Maharana’s practical jokes! There is a wall behind the door.
Narrow corridors to slow down possible intruders:
What I found even more interesting is that all the doors are small, requiring people to go through head first. There would be soldiers on either side of the door wielding head-chopping blades, in case an intruder managed to enter the palace. I first noticed this fascinating feature in the fort at Chittorgarh, the erstwhile capital of Mewar.
The Courtyard (available for parties at an exorbitant rent):
Timings 9:30 am to 5:30 pm (go early, you’d want to spend at least a couple of hours there).
Entry fee: INR 115 for adults, INR 55 for children above 12, FREE for children below 12
The steep-but-worth-it camera fee: INR 225
Approved guided tour: INR 200 for a group of upto 5 people. INR 250- INR 400 for larger groups (prices written on a big red board outside)
My awesome-chef-friend (I hope you are reading this Kaizad) recommended a cafe/ restaurant not too far from the City Palace. It is called Ambrai and is part of Hotel Amet Haveli which is on the bank of Lake Pichola and has a spectacular view of the Lake Palace, the City Palace and Lake Pichola. It is also ridiculously difficult to drive down to. Its best to walk or use public transport. I only plan to tell people I really hate to take their cars all the way.
Useful Information: They only serve proper food after 7 pm so if you are there to catch the sunset, you’ll have to make do with the drinks on offer.
Hotel Website: http://amethaveliudaipur.com/