Saturday, December 26, 2009
Vibrant Rajasthan - Udaipur
With the winters playing wicked games with us north indians, I was craving for some warm destination, where the sun had made its presence felt. I always wanted to visit the Forts in Rajasthan, the colourful and vibrant land of desert. I packed my bags and headed for the bright sunny skies. Going through some maps, I decided to start off with the lively city Udaipur. Dotted with exquisite marble forts and palaces, Udaipur showcases the rich history and architectural patterns of the Rajput Kings. Most of these forts and palaces were built in the medieval era by regal personages. I was completely overwhelmed to see the lavish interiors, royal decor and rugged exteriors of these spell bounding structures. Reflecting the lifestyles of the passionate Rajputs in the best possible manner, the City Palace stands over the Pichola Lake.
The palace was built by Maharana Uday Singh and later several palaces and structures were added to the complex by succeeding Maharanas. Various huge gates, the Mor Chawk (the peacock square), Armoury museum (exhibiting a huge collection of protective gears and weapons), Manak Mahal or the Ruby Palace (known for a lovely collection of glass and mirror work) and Krishna Vilas (displaying a rich collection of miniature paintings) are a few major attractions of the City Palace. The rooms of the Moti Mahal, Chini Mahal and the Zenana Mahal in the City Palace complex are superbly decorated with mirror tiles and paintings.
I then saw the renowned Lake Palace Hotel, located on an island on Lake Pichola. I also came to know that the Lake Palace Hotel was originally built by the Maharana Jagat Singh II in 1754. It is rated among the most romantic hotels in India as well as world over. I paid short visits to the famous Fateh Prakash Palace and Jag Mandir, which are known for authentic royal luxury. Almost all the major forts and palaces in Udaipur boast of the legends of their glorious past. These ancestral structures have witnessed several changes over the centuries and still they stand tall retaining the vibrant aspects of the age old cultures. If I start goin' into historical details... it would take me ages to complete the draft.
After going through these hyped touristic destinations, I snatched away some time to explore Udaipur, the inner city I had heard so many stories about. As soon as I walked out of the hostel, I found myself in the midst of a busy market. Colourful clothes, leather bound notebooks, hard carved wooden elephants and camels, stone carved ganeshas, colourful jootis, zari borders of old saris and so much for a shopper's delight.
Amidst the busy market I discovered these steps that reached quite high and ended in a temple far above. My curiosity led me to a marble temple of Jagdish (or Krishna) and spent some time there discovering the temple complex and its colourfully traditional Rajasthani people.There I found samosas, kachoris (those who don't know - a kind of snack popular in India) and tea, with fried green chillies and chopped onions... God! Does my mouth still water at the thought of it. Lemme' make it very clear, I am a big time foodie. Walking down I discovered many faces, many architectural wonders, ghaats, old bridges, mandirs (temples) and old houses or havelis. Curiosity and wonder not leaving us, I walked on and on…
The eateries were the most amazing discovery. All sort of food sells out there... Korean, Isreali, Mexican, Italian, Swiss, American, just name it. And yes you also might get a decent Rajasthani Thali there! Exploring beyond I found many small houses converted into cafe's that can hardly seat more than 8-10 people, but served all sorts of food, teaching how to draw miniature art. Even I tried my hands on painting with thin single hair brushes and learning how to do miniature art! I met an artist who did really good miniature work but gotta tell you it requires good amount of patience and good eye-sight ofcourse.
This was my first draft on my rajasthan trip... hope to post more on it asap!!