The heat is unrelenting and we haven’t found accommodation in Udaipur yet, so we book a more “luxurious” hotel with swimming pool. Sweaty backpackers are decided to recharge batteries and (moderately) splurge.
The plan for the first day is to visit in the morning and spend the afternoon soaking in the pool. First stop is the highlight of Udaipur: its city palace. Located next to the Pichola Lake, the building is a mix of Rajasthani and Mughal styles, featuring the story of its establisher, Maharana Uday Singh. Udaipur is known as the romantic city and one of the most popular destinations in India, so it’s not surprising to see a lot of people around and having to pay a fee to use a camera inside the premises (we don’t pay it, but manage to sneak in a few shots, hihi).
There are many halls inside the palace, decorated with paintings, mosaics made with glass, ceramics or stones or a mix of both, and there is a large display of royal utensils, clothes and even horse chariots from the old days. The Mughal style is beautiful, with its arched windows and kiosks, moustached suns and fountains. Women here wear one color saris and cover their heads more than what we have been used to see in other parts of India (maybe due to the Mughal influence?). The views of the city from the top are superb.
On the way back to the hotel, we cross a parade related to the Gangaur festival (more about it later). We meet a couple of Spanish girls spending their very first days in India and they are excited to witness this display of color and music.
The main street is closed to traffic and since we can’t agree on a fair price with any tuc tuc driver, we have to walk back and get little time to sunbathe, so the following day we won’t leave the hotel until the evening.
Said and done, our skin looks a little more tanned the following day, and in the evening we go check out the festival. Gangaur festival is specially important for women in Rajasthan; they take idols of Isar and Gauri and richly adorn them with clothes (fitting their size, that is). After that, women carry the idols on their shoulders in long processions to the river bank. By doing this, they hommage Gangaur, who symbolizes virtue and grants protection to husbands (it is said that if unmarried woman pray to Gangaur, they’ll find one). At the end of the procession and at the river ghat, a band of traditional Rajasthani music is playing, making everyone sing and dance to their rythmic notes.
This is a nice welcome in Rajasthan 😉