Udaipur – ‘Venice of the East’Spirit Bohemian
Hectic and stressful work schedule, same monotonous routine had almost drained life out of me. So, without giving it a second thought, me and my husband planned a weekend getaway to the majestic City of Lakes – ‘Udaipur’.Considering the fact that we just wanted to relax, our friends suggested Hotel Hilltop Palace Udaipur. We reached Udaipur after changing two flights via Bengaluru & Mumbai, all exhausted and tired. And then began a seemingly endless wait for the hotel pickup cab. ‘There he is’…. Nikhil shouted, we approached the cab with all our luggage, and found a heavily moustached driver opening the door for us and then came the greetings ‘KhammaghaniHukum’ in his loud husky voice and we boarded the cab. Took us another hour to reach the hotel, as the airport is almost 13kms away from the main city, after swerving around on Udaipur roads and enjoying the surprises which the city had in stored for us.
Golden gravel, sand dunes, dry quenched earth, twilight, folk songs, dances and wild cactus was what I was taught about Rajasthan – the north west frontier of India. But to my surprise Udaipur is the land of shimmering and glistering Lakes, purple ridges of the wooded Aravalli Hills, a rich and charming tapestry of lakeside palaces, forts, temples and gardens which reflect the varied influences of the centuries past. Popularly known as the ‘Venice of the East’, Udaipur has everything to offer – Serenity, Buzzing Markets, Historic Background and an ever rich cultural heritage.
It was a comfortable drive though, and finally, we reached. Situated at the highest point of Udaipur, overlooking two out of the 5 major lakes which the city hosts – Lake Fatehsagar & Lake SwaroopSagar and the town, it was a perfect start to the weekend. Serenity, the blue sky seemed very nearer to the horizon and the vast green all around with blue water in the middle, from our hotel which was beautifully situated on top of Ambavgarh Hill. The view is difficult to describe and impossible to match. I felt so relaxed and the entire ambience re-energized me. Sipping a hot cup of coffee while sitting out in the courtyard overlooking Lake Fatehsagar was the best part of the day so far!!
Without further ado, we were all set to step out and experience the city. We didn’t plan or had any itinerary, we walked down the winding road from the hotel and just started our day with Fatehsagar lake, the biggest lake located at the middle of the city, alsoknown as ‘Pride of Udaipur’. Centrally located, surrounded by beautiful foothills, with the exception of its eastern side, where a straight stone dam – “Paal” is seen which is a hot spot for people who want to enjoy the beauty of the lake while taking an evening stroll. Well complimented with the overall ambiance of the place, were 2 bands which were playing live music to audiences at the Paal. We stopped for a while and listened to one of them playing “Maaeri” by Euphoria which brought back loads of memories from the ‘90’s. A visit to the Fatehsagar Lake cannot be complete without a boat ride to the iconic Nehru garden, which is situated right in the middle of the lake. I was giddy as a school boy while Nikhil was scared while on the boat.
Once back from Nehru garden, we took to the many shops and stalls around lake that offer varied tangy and tasty fast food items. We relished our favoritePavBhaji and sipped hot coffee, served in a kullad and suddenly we realized that we were not in Mumbai, but in Udaipur. Munching on a delicious, butter dripping and finger licking PavBhaji while watching the sun set over the lake was one of the most beautiful and relaxing sight that we had laid our eyes on, for quite some time now. It was time now to head on back to the hotel.
Though we did not want to head back straight to the hotel, so took a longer stroll than usual through one of the main Bazars called Haathi Pole. If you have an eye for art, then this is certainly the place to be at where one can find unique artifacts, which can find their lineage back to the golden days of Mewar, hand crafted marble items which can take shapes from Ganesha to MaharanPratap and phad paintings which are very popular in this part of Rajasthan. We got ourselves a pair of wooden lounge chairs, which can only be found in a market in Rajasthan and nowhere else.
Walking back to the hotel, we were welcomed by a turbaned shop keeper who was standing outside his small cloth store, to step inside and look at the marvelous handlooms of the region. Got myself a beautiful Bandhani Saree which looked more like one of my “Tie & Dye projects” in school and one more for my best friend, a “Lehariyaa” Saree which is a striped saree dipped in beautiful, bright colours.
After giving a scare to by dear husband (by swiping off his cards) at the saree store, we finally decided that now was indeed the time to head back to the hotel. Walked amidst a heavily crowded road which connected us to the hotel main road, took the winding staircase of a road back to the hotel and then, finally the large king size bed in our hotel room was suddenly looking the most comfortable place in the entire world. Caught one last glimpse of the moon over Lake Fatehsagar and slowly sank in the bed, while watching Nikhil picking up his drink and the book that he was trying to finish, ever since we started from Coimbatore, which was titled – “What Happened to Netaji”……
Udaipur is such a beauty, a serene, calm & composed destination with the best of options available for nature walks, heritage beauty, colorful shopping lanes, an upbeat night life if you want to chill out over drinks.