Udaipur, India: The romantic City of Lakes
I land in Udaipur mesmerized. After the hustle and bustle and busyness of Delhi the silence is deafening. I walk out of the airport, and was shocked by the fact that no one was shocked to see me. The taxi drivers were all sitting in a shadowy corner, enjoying the cover on a hot sunny day. No one rushed over to try and grab my things, touch me, asking me where to go, or asking me for a donation. For the first time in India, I could smell the fresh air and felt the beautiful sun on my face. The mountains a glorious background. And so, I headed into what would become my favorite city in India.
(Udaipur, view of the city)
Udaipur, the city itself is located to the west of India, in the state of Rajasthan (how grand does that sound!). Some call it the Venice of the East, or City of Lakes due to the presence of numerous lakes including the picturesque Pichola Lake in the middle. One of its claim to fame being where the Indian segment of Octopussy (for you James Bond aficionados) was filmed. And trust me, you will see signs advertising this fact everywhere.
(Contemplation on Pichola Lake)
What I loved most about Udaipur was that it truly encapsulated the romance I had associated with India. It’s laid back-ness, its quietness, a stark contrast to its famous cousins Mumbai, Delhi and even Agra. It’s small, an easy city to navigate by feet. And you have the whole range of being able to take a small boat around the lake, or a cable car to the peak to see the majestic city below.
(Doing their washing by the lake)
The city retains its beautiful architecture, peppering its waterline with old Rajput-era palaces. Small lanes break out into market squares. And sometimes what may seem as even the most clichéd of moments, like an elephant walking through the street will be the most amazing. “An ELEPHANT is walking through the streets of Udaipur!!” Most of the beautiful old palaces have been converted into beautiful hotels, and I truly recommend staying in one if possible. I stayed at the Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel and absolutely loved it.
(Reflections along the water bank)
What do you come here for then? If you were looking for a specific landmark detail, like the Taj Mahal in Agra, then Pichola Lake with the Lake Palace hotel perched beautifully in the middle does not disappoint. The City Palace sits grandly on top of a hill with panoramic views of Udaipur the city, the lake and the mountains. Coloured light streaking through its halls.
(Inside one of the halls in City Palace)
If you were looking to see the myriad of culture and colours of India, you would find them all here, minus the hassle of the big cities. If you were looking for wonderful food, Udaipur has the best I’ve tasted in India bar none. If you were looking for the warmth and friendliness of its people, you will find it here, with far more sincerity than in other places I have been to.
(Along the streets of Udaipur)
If you come here to find yourself, you may find yourself falling madly in love, in that quiet beautiful romantic way people describe, with this peaceful, tranquil and heart wrenchingly romantic city of Udaipur.
(Sunset on Lake Palace)
Trust me, I will be back.