After searching unsuccessfully for an inexpensive air ticket, I decided to give Indian Railways a chance, I love them – in my country (read Bihar) trains reach those places where there is no road, trains are like part of people out there, and started looking at trains from Delhi which do not take more then a night to reach somewhere meaningful. Udaipur was on our list for a long time and it was more then delighting to learn that Mewar Express takes only a night to reach there. Its starts at 7 in the evening and you are in Udaipur next morning at 7. So we decided to go to Udaipur, few phone calls and old pal
Sanjeev agreed to give us a company. We were travelling by train for the first time with a young baby (Pihu would have been less then 5 months old) and it always helps to have one-two more people with you, esp oldfriends since they dont ask too many questions :)
We started on Oct 28, 2005 and were there at the stations next morning. The station was clean, took an auto and checked-in at Hotel Shaalimar (booked through an acquaintance at a good tariff). Hotel Shalimar is a nice and small hotel with clean rooms and clean loos. They do not have a great dining area or any open place to boast about but the staff is helpful and polite, food is decent and all in all a decent place to hang out.
Unlike my usual travelogues where I go day by day, I would just write about places which we visited and try to remember all the good things.
Its a private property of His Highness Arvind Singh jee and is beautifully kept. Its one big building which oversees Lake Pichola and has its usual dose of claustrophobic stair cases, hidden rooms, amazing stone work, carvings, mirror work, old artifacts and what not.
There are these big arches which you cross top get in. Its atop a hill so you get good views. Remember to take a guide since that’s very helpful. There is a entrance fee like Rs 100 or so and then additional charges for camera which we didn’t choose to pay so must be high. We did click a few pics after requesting our guide to allow us since all guides are also on the payroll of king. since its a private property, things work here on a whole.
Notable among artifacts is a peacock which is done in glass and stone. There is a large courtyard which is rented for big weddings and conferences. I think Arun Nair and Liz Hurley got married here, I think. We also noticed a 1-800 no for booking the place. you would have to walk quite a bit so carry a water bottle and do it slowly, it would need at least half a day to do it well. We were not one of those highly enthusiastic visitors to understand everything and frankly I do not remember everything now buts its a must visit. Its not as big or royal or rich as the one at Jaipur but a must go.
Garden Restaurant and Old Car Collection of King
It was close to our hotel so we paid a visit. They give you a thali for Rs 50 and it was simply amazing. A rich, clean and complete food package with a fresh burfi in the end.
The restaurant is inside a complex which now also houses a small hotel and a gallery showcasing all the great cars which kingdom had.
For looking at cars, you would need to pay Rs 100 more and there is a package where you pay 130 or something like that and you get to do both. Some of the car pics, really impressive. These cars are really big and long. I drive a Scorpio and most of these were at least 50 % longer then that. I would let pictures do the talking here.
Sajjan Estate – Park
Its not on the tourist map and probably no one would list this but its a great place to kill and pass time. Its a huge old park which has lots of old real trees and not the typical ornamental ones which you see in modern parks, dont know why these days we dont plant a mango or a neem any more. It has a small zoo, a small train track for kids and adults, a small restaurant and lots of open space. We went there twice and it was simply bliss. Very apt for long walks and some soothing time.
Fatehsagar Lake and Pratap Memorial
Pratap memorial is a bronze statue of Maharana Pratap atop a height with a small greenery thrown around, nothing much, can avoid. Fatehsagar is a beautiful and big lake. If there is enough water then its one huge lake to cherish. Take a long walk and feel the breeze. Its not very crowded. Go.
Bhartiya Lok Kala Museum
From fatehsagar, its close by. Its an old dilapidated building which houses lots of masks and puppets. We also watched a puppet show which was very beautifully done, they run it few times every day so watch it. But in general not a great place to spend time.
Saheliyon Ki Bari
A park, dont know why its put on the tourist map.Avoid.
Ok, so finally what’s more. Well the markets, we were there during Diwali time so it was all bright and colorful. We did some shopping in Bapu Market (I might be confusing the name with Jaipur’s Bapu Market) where you get very good bargains on sheets, sarees etc. For food, Bawarchi is good, Natraj is equally decent. We spent lot of our time on road and probably that will be my suggestion to fellow travelers. Learn the city. We also noticed that folks on a whole were more polite and helpful then in other states, its not a big city so you can do it with local transport i.e. autos.
All in all a great place to be there. Probably when I go next, I would stay in Lake Palace but till then, lets plan a new trip.