Udaipur has been dubbed India’s most romantic city, and you can certainly see why. Scattered amongst the rooftop restaurants are smitten couples enjoying the view almost as much as each other’s company. With its narrow intertwining streets decorated with flowers and paintings on the chalk coloured walls. Palaces on islands in the lake creating perfect reflections on the glassy lake. The colourful markets conquering all your senses.
The intricate temples with their amazing architecture. Cows on every street eating chewing on newspaper and whatever else they can find. The hotels all trying to outdo each other by building little installments on the roof like huts on dangerously high stilts all to get the “best view” of the lake. And the trek up 9 flights of stairs is always rewarded by an amazing panoramic view.
We arrived in Udaipur tired from the train and Hannah's tummy a little touchy after a bout of food poisoning in Ahmedabad, but excited none the less.
Once again we opted for the easiest option for accommodation and went with a lonely planet recommendation and stayed at a place called hotel Udai Niwas. When we got to the rooftop restaurant of the hotel for the first time, the first thing that sprung to mind was Disney’s Aladin. You can almost see him running across the maze of rooftops. The view was enchanting as we sat on marshmallow cushions, eating tasty curries and watching James Bond’s famous “Octopussy.” The movie is legend in the area and every rooftop restaurant advertises the fact that they play the movie every night, although for me one viewing is enough. The movie was shot nearby at Monsoon Palace, a palace on top of a hill.
|Our cheeky and noisy neighbours at Ganesh Guest House|
Two days later after meeting some fellow travellers we switched places to where they were staying at Ganesha where we payed only $2AUD each a night for a double room with a bathroom and beautiful terrace and rooftop with views extending almost 360 degrees around beautiful Udaipur. Needless to say we were pretty pleased to find this place.
We were in Udaipur for Diwali, a hindu celebration in which after long exile, good and light returns conquering the evil that had reigned for many years. Charmingly, Diwali is a festival of lights and it is as big for Indians as Christmas is back home. We spent the night of Diwali first down by the ghats river where locals made little boats and floated them out onto the river symbolizing the return of light and good. After witnessing women weaving baskets for the candles to float out on and little offerings being made we headed for a nearby rooftop restaurant with fellow travellers; one from France and a couple from Denmark and England (who amazingly have travelled from Europe to India only by land meaning they travelled through Iraq and Pakistan).
We had the best viewing point for the night’s festivities, which were of course children and adults alike setting off fireworks. We were sitting in a tiny tower built onto the restaurant that barely fit 8 of us sitting cross legged. We were told later that we broke the record for the most amount of people they fit into the tower, 5 people being the previous record! We spent the night watching and dodging fireworks, some of which would explode mere meters away, and playing card games. We finished the night by having a rooftop jam back at our accommodation.
|Us squashing onto the stilt hut on the rooftop|
The next day we did a cooking course with Sashi’s Cooking classes (below sunrise restaurant). She is very well known around the place and has featured in most quide books and we could certainly see why. She was very professional and made sure that our class was very hands on and practical. She told us her inspirational tale of her troubles being a widowed mother with two children and how she built her cooking school up from nothing.
She had to stay inside for one year and sit in the corner of the house, not seeing daylight to mourn for her dead husband. As Sashi was in an upper cast of society it meant that she could not remarry or work after her husband’s death. With no money and two children she had no option but to work secretly doing odd jobs like laundry for guest houses. One day someone suggested she teach cooking to tourists, she did not speak a word of English, but she learnt almost as quickly as her reputation grew. Now she is the most popular cooking class costing only 500rp for 6 or more hours cooking a huge feast, which we then ate at the end.
We left with a special recipe book, a handmade bracelet, handmade elephant souvenier and feeling like our tummies were about to explode.
|They really are worn out soles!|