India – Udaipur

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.

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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).

View of the Lake Palace, also known as Jan Niwas, on the left. It was finished as a summer palace in 1746 but now serves as a luxury hotel.

View of the Lake Palace, also known as Jan Niwas, on the left. It was finished as a summer palace in 1746 but now serves as a luxury hotel.

A guard on horse at the entrance of Udaipur's City Palace.

A guard on horse at the entrance of Udaipur’s City Palace.

One section of the front of the City Palace from below.

One section of the front of the City Palace from below.

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.

At the entrance, some women put live music to the square.

At the entrance, some women put live music to the square.

The mirror room.

The mirror room.

There are numerous stained glass windows in the palace.

There are numerous stained glass windows in the palace.

Chamber of the Royal Swing, that can be seen a little on the right, in the shadows.

Chamber of the Royal Swing, that can be seen a little on the right, in the shadows.

A steam fan.

A steam fan.

Sculpted horses and chariot.

Sculpted horses and chariot.

A beautiful dog arm chair.

A beautiful dog arm chair.

Part of the palace is being prepped for a big event, hence the many decors and tables set at the front court.

Part of the palace is being prepped for a big event, hence the many decors and tables set at the front court.

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.

View from the river bridge going back to the hotel after lunch.

View from the river bridge going back to the hotel after lunch.

Celebration is going on in the streets.

Celebration is going on in the streets.

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.

Women carrying Gangaur  statues accompanied by live music and the crowd's expectation.

Women carrying Gangaur statues accompanied by live music and the crowd’s expectation.

The Rajasthani band.

The Rajasthani band.

The Rajasthani band from the side. The singer caughts the camera very well, hehe.

The Rajasthani band from the side. The singer caughts the camera very well, hehe.

View across the river from where the Gangaur festival is taking place.

View across the river from where the Gangaur festival is taking place.

Going back to the hotel, a man is painting the windows of a very characteristic building of Rajasthan.

Going back to the hotel, a man is painting the windows of a very characteristic building of Rajasthan.

This is a nice welcome in Rajasthan 😉

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