Reunion in the City of Lakes

Udaipur, 22-24 September

We’re taking the night train from Bundi to Udaipur, second of the three painted cities in Rajasthan on our itinerary and known as the White City. Famous for its palaces and lakes, Udaipur is considered to be the most romantic city in India. Welcome to the Jewel of Mewar!

Our first experience on a night train is pretty good. The train is already 24 hours in motion by the time we’re getting on it, and since it’s 2AM all the other passengers are fast asleep, so we quietly find our bunks in the dark and get a few hours sleep ourselves.

Although unaware of it at the time, by chance we’re dropped off at our hotel by the owner’s brother, who also very kindly arranges our next transportation out of Udaipur. We’re staying at Mewari Villa, a stunning hotel overlooking one of Udaipur’s seven lakes, where we’re booked in to one of the budget rooms. Though our room may not have windows, the rooftop terrace offers great lake views and the hotel is very comfortable.

We meet the owner who tells us we’ve met his brother, and it turns out the owner of our previous guest house in Bundi is an acquaintance of his as well, such a small world! Later that day he invites us to a cultural performance taking place on the hotel rooftop, but in the evening an unrelenting monsoon rain starts and continues throughout the night. We don’t mind at all, but the owner, feeling bad for having had to cancel the event, gives us a free room upgrade instead. Ya dancer, we got a room with a view!

Time then for a bit of sightseeing, and the City Palace seems like an excellent place to start.

Located on Lake Pichola, the palace was built over a period of nearly 400 years, with contributions from several rulers of the Mewar dynasty. Unlike Bundi Palace, its interior with its balconies, towers and cupolas exhibits immaculately preserved, delicate mirrors, marble, murals, paintings and coloured glass, as well as sharply dressed guards.

After the palace we bump into a guy we met in Jaipur, and minutes later a couple we met in Bundi! We spend the rest of the afternoon and evening drinking beers and swapping travel stories on the roof of a hostel.

Waking up late with a slight hangover means we’re taking it easy the next day, which is easily done in Udaipur. Most of our afternoon is spent relaxing in the shade by Lake Pichola looking at the boats go by and eagles circling for prey against a backdrop of the water palaces of Taj Lake Palace and Jagmandir.

What we’ve learned so far on our travels is that India is always full of surprises. With the sun gone down and the lights come on, as we’ve said our goodbyes to Rajasthan’s Venice, an elephant suddenly appears around a street corner. Just a normal night in Udaipur! We thoroughly enjoyed our time here.

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