Road trips with family and friends are always amazing and when the destination is a beautiful romantic town, nestled among majestic lakes and beautiful hills, the experience is almost epiphanous. Our recent travel trip to Udaipur in the State of Rajasthan in India, fondly referred to as the city of lakes for all the right reasons, was simply awe-inspiring. It was a short weekend trip, too short to experience all the marvels of Udaipur, but I must say, we enjoyed every moment of it. In a way it is good because we are already planning the next one and feeling ecstatic with just the thought of experiences that we are going to have when to return again. We started early from Ahmedabad because we wanted to reach Udaipur before noon and make the most out of our time there. As the first rays of sun brightened the sky from the distant horizon and dissipated the early morning mist, the view through my windshield was almost magical and I felt a strange beckoning deep inside me. Udaipur is all about palaces, lakes, royalty, class and romance and it felt good to imagine that I was a long lost prince of the yesteryears, returning to the land of my forefathers. I wanted to remain in this mood and rejuvenated myself with fresh tea, brewed in rich buffalo milk, so abundantly available in this part of India.
By noon we checked into our hotel and after a quick lunch, went straight to the nearby Fatehsagar lake, a magnificent masterpiece from all angles. As I stood on the bank of this beautiful lake with Sarmistha and soaked in all the beauty and brilliance around, the glittering ripples of the waves transcended us to a whole new realm. The mystic and the romantic aura that engulfed us as we looked towards the distant hills in the horizon made us appreciate the vision and the taste of the royals who once ruled this place and made it their playground as well as their home. Having said that, the 76th descendant of the King of Udaipur, Maharaja Rana Sriji Arvind Singh Mewar still lives here with all the pomp and aristocracy of an era gone by and held in high regards by the people. It was hard to part with Fatehsagar lake and escape from its magnetic beauty but we knew that more amazing experiences await us just round the corner. To start with, we found this spicy Indian snack right in front of us and the spices and the chillies really jolted our nerves and brought us back to reality, in a good way of course.
The first day was quite hectic as we woke up very early in the morning to begin our travel trip to Udaipur, drove for almost 300 kms and went straight to see the lake without even a minute of rest. Strangely we were not tired nor did we want the day to end. If only we could control time!!! The central attraction of Udaipur is the City Palace that overlooks the equally magnificent Lake palace in the middle of lake Pichola and we decided to visit it the next day. The palace doors remain open until 6 and an hour would have been too short to experience all its grandeur and brilliance.
The Udaipur city palace, situated on the banks of lake Pichola is all about opulence, style and excess in every aspect, the quintessential trails of India’s royals. As you walk towards the enormous Palace gates you will be humbled not just by its beauty but by its sheer size and grandeur. It is fascinating to imagine that there was a time when brave kings and princes would walk past this same gate with their heads held high after victorious battles and campaigns showered with rose petal from the palace arches. The sound of the golden anklets worn by the queens and princesses as they ran to get a glimpse of their heartthrob after days of anxiety, still echoes in the palace corridors, if not in real but in my imagination. The palace is truly magnificent in all aspect and the brilliant internal courtyards and gardens perfectly matches the royal elegance of the queens and princesses that once frolicked here. The museum chambers inside the palace presents a brilliant display of the armoury that once won many battles against the invaders from far.
My highlight inside the palace is the view of the architectural wonder called the lake palace from its many windows. Lake palace is now a hotel run by the prestigious taj group of hotels and they have left no stone unturned in preserving its glory and grandeur. A white wonder made of marble, the lake palace sits in the middle of lake Pichola and can be reached only by boat.
While the feel inside the palace is all regal and royal the street that lies outside abounds in all the charms of quintessential India. The buzz, the crowd and the souvenirs shops that sell beautiful Indian handicrafts will stay with you for ever and will bring a smile on your face for years as you sit back and remember your experiences, reminiscent of a time very well spent. It was time for a hearty meal now given the “surface area” we covered inside the palace and we found just the right place nearby. Every item in the menu was a gastronomic delight and the quirky colourful doll on the blinds kept the vibe of Udaipur intact.
Time really flies when you are enjoying it and before we knew it was time to leave. We had seen so much but it felt as if we have seen nothing. There was just the time left to visit a park overlooking lake Fatehsagar.The imposing statue of a very brave prince called Maharana Pratap on his beloved horse called Chetak stands in the middle and view of the lake below from here was simple amazing. The park was a brilliant place to end our amazing trip as it perfectly sums up Udaipur. The view of the tranquil lake below and distant palaces will remind you of the amazing time you had here and will leave you will a strange yearning from more.
We promised we will be back!