Palaces, Paintings and Ponies

The last stop on our tour of India was the lake city of Udaipur in Rajasthan. We had intended to go to Jodphur also but once we settled into our hostel and saw the pretty city we decided to stay and relax instead. It was a bit of a journey from Amritsar (two consecutive overnight trains with five hours in Delhi in the middle) so we spent te morning of the first day in Udaipur recovering.

Once we had our nanna naps we headed out to the City Palace that Udaipur is famous for. Built high above the city right next to Lake Pichola the palace is now two luxury hotels. They do also have a museum but we opted just to walk around the gorgeous grounds and have tea and cake at one of the cafes. From there we walked around the windy streets and browsesd the shops as we made our way down to the lake. We crossed one of the bridges in the narrow part and made our way to one of the Ghats. There are several Ghats surrounding the lake where people come to bathe and wash their clothes. From the ghat we had a beautiful view of the City Palace over the lake and of one of the floating hotels (where you can stay for £1500 a night) so we sat and relaxed there for the rest of the afternoon.

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The next day we decided to check the lake out properly so we jumped on a boat ride around. It was only twenty minutes long but we got to see the architecture of the city palace and two beautiful hotels up close. It would be amazing to stay in either of those hotels! After our boat ride we spent the afternoon relaxing at a lake side restaurant. I mean after all what better way to spend an afternoon. There were more palaces and temples and museums to see but after seventy something days of playing the tourist we much preferred to laze by the lake.

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For those James Bond fans out there you may recognize the photos from the film Octopussy. A Roger Moore era Bond film was filmed in the lake city and you can tell that they are very proud of it. Many of the cafes and restaurants show the movie nightly and since I hadn’t seen it, James and I went to the highest roof top bar to watch it. It was great views over the cityscape at night as well as yummy food while we were the sole viewers of the film. Was pretty cool to see a place we had been just the day before be featured in a film.

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Udaipir is a tourist haven with too many shops and restaurants to poke a stick at. What it also has in abundance is classes. Since we had already tried cooking class and a yoga class we decided to try an art class. For 150 rupees an hour we could learn to paint a miniature painting rajastani style. We decided to try painting an elephant on silk. I wasn’t sure how I was going to go as I hadn’t done any art since the obligatory lessons at school but thankfully our teacher, Madan, gave clear and helpful instructions (and even helped draw a line or two). In the end I was pretty impressed with what I ended up with and had a great time learning and painting.

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That evening we went to the Sunset Terrace at the City Palace and watched the sun set over the lake. Since our last night in India was going to be spent on an over night bus we celebrated our second last night in style – with a glass of bubbly to toast an unforgettable holiday.

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On our final day in Udaipur we decided to try horse riding through the outskirts of the town. I had never ridden a horse before so I was super excited but also super nervous. Luckily the ranch was catered to tourists and beginners so I was given a small horse called Rama. We popped our helmets on and got a very brief lesson on how to start and stop and we headed off. We plodded along and headed through some local villages but Rama don’t want to keep up. So I had to say ‘challo’ and get her to trot and then ‘bosch’ to slow down. We had a few starts and stops like this so when we stopped for a rest I was put on a horse called Biseley. She was the exact opposite of Rama and decided to keep trying to take over the lead horse. In the end the guide was pulling us along on a rope. I was fairly unimpressed with this because it just meant I was on a glorified pony ride so at the next break I swapped over to Rama again. This time either I was a better rider or she was better behaved and we got along OK – except for when she got startled by a motorbike and tried to take off. Overall it was a pleasant ride and we got to see some pretty scenery and interesting little villages.

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Unfortunatley that was the end of our stay in Udaipur and our last place to explore in India. It was the best place ro relax and enjoy before getting on a 17 hour overnight bus to Delhi. I’m a bit sad that our trip is coming to an end as we have had such an amazing time. Although there are a few things I’m looking forward to – constant hot showers, a nice big meal of steak and fresh salad and less hustle and bustle. Just a few things this trip has made me grateful for!

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