Friday, May 26, 2017

RAJASTHAN MEWAD TOUR - UDAIPUR

From Mt. Abu we started for Udaipur the next morning. 


We reached 'Haldighati' Fort on the way. 
If we wanted to use our camera / phone to click photos inside, we had to buy a special ticket for Rs. 50. 
As soon as we entered, the awesome statues of Maharana Pratap, his horse Chethak and Rajput warriors impressed us. First we watched a short Audio-Visual giving us a glimpse of the history of the place. 
All those history lessons of yore flitted through our minds as we walked past various audio-visual presentations with statues of historical figures - most prominently Maharana Pratap, Panna tai, Chethak the horse ...
The place also had a quaint garden with a lake - right in the midst of it was the statue of Kaliamardhana Krishna; 
there were cowsheds and cows, camels and goats .... and sure enough many of us chose to click pictures posing with those lifeless statues.
It was lunch time, we had authentic Rajasthani thali - with dal bhaati, choorma, gatte ki sabji etc. 


As we started our drive to Udaipur, we saw the yellow color of the rocks around - justifying the name 'Haldighati'.

In an hour we were close to Nathadwara Temple. Once again we were instructed to leave our cell phones and wallets in the bus. We went in 'Tumtum's to the Dharamshala and waited for some 30 minutes as the temple would next open only at 4. This temple is unique in the sense that the Gods had different 'darshan' timings and the devotees had to queue up accordingly. The hot saffron tea in clay cups revived our spirits and we started walking to the temple at 3.45. Our guide briefed us about the temple and ushered us ladies to the ladies' enclosure while the gents went to theirs. All of us had to cover our heads. We saw a good many ladies squatting on the floor and  At 4.15, we heard a commotion - it was the men folk running for the darshan as the temple door had opened. It was a bit scary and we ladies of our group decided to hold hands and walk at our pace when our turn came. We did so, got good darshan and were out at 4.30 and the temple doors promptly closed. It would open again after an hour. We joined our menfolk. We also got to see the famed gold and silver 'chakki's (grinding stones). 

As we were walking back, we were able to dodge the vendors and beggars as we were empty handed! Of course they didn't like it and gave us dirty looks; some of them chose to focus on the men folk as they must have felt they had their wallets tucked away in their pockets!

We reached Udaipur in an hour. It was another half hour drive to our resort - Amargarh Resort. We were accorded a royal welcome with garlands and 'tilak' before we checked into our royal suites.


We prepared coffee in our room and relished it with tasty snacks from our tour's snack hamper in royal style, seated in the cozy 'love-nest' in our suite. A little bit of rest did us good. Then we joined our group on the sprawling lawns for fun games conducted by our Tour Manager. 


After that we walked to the dining hall for dinner - the ambiance was great .... 
there was live performance of Rajasthani folk music and dance.
Next morning we took a stroll around the sprawling palace-like resort - the architecture of the place reflected the old-world charm of Rajasthan. Breakfast was a lavish spread of continental (croissants and cakes and bread) and every Indian breakfast item from 'paratha; to 'poha', idli to vada, upma to uthappa and of course fruits and juices ....! We were ready for the city tour of Udaipur before 8.30 am. 


Our first halt was the Maharana Pratap Smarak on Moti Magari where there was the majestic statue of Maharana Pratap on his famed horse 'Chetak'. We had a well-built guide with a booming voice, impressively narrating about the valour of Maharana and Chethak. 


From there, we could get breathtaking views of the city.

We then drove to 'Saheliyon ki baadi' - the garden located in the heart of the city - built for the princesses and their friends - 

it was royal and regal and all of us ladies felt no less than princesses as we went around different sections - 'Raas Leela', Sawan Badhon', 'Bin baadal barsaat' etc. 

After enjoying a round of the garden, many of us satisfied our wish to turn Rajasthani belles and men and get our photos clicked ..... The photographers there were really professional - offering clean, bright inviting garments which they quickly slipped on to you over your attire. Another assistant decked you up with accessories - headgear and jewelry and lo! You are all ready looking like a blue-blooded Rajasthani, radiantly smiling for the photo. A single copy of a solo photo costs Rs. 150 and  a couple's photograph, Rs. 250. They did brisk business, I should say and both parties were satisfied. 


We got to taste Rajasthan's delicacy 'pyaaz da kachori' and 'lassi' at a nearby restaurant.

Then we drove to Lake Pichola - the most picturesque place in Udaipur - with the sprawling, glimmering lake dotted with palaces ..... 
After an enjoyable twenty minute boat ride ....
during which we went close to the different palaces, 
we got down at Jag Mandir Hotel at 12.30 pm. We were informed about the various star weddings held here. 


We went around the place, clicking ourselves against the backdrop of attractive spots, feeling no less than stars ourselves.

After an hour we took the boat back and then drove to Vishnupriya restaurant for lunch. It had a nice ambiance and good food; it also had a shop from where many of us ladies bought fashion jewelry.


Soon we were at the famed City Palace - once again photography was strictly prohibited inside, so we had to make a mental album of the images we'd enjoy. We were also informed that the palace had a lot of climbing up and down steep, uneven steps, so those with knee problems should consider the wisdom of undertaking the strain. Four of them stayed back halfheartedly but as we realized later, it was a wise decision.

Our good old guide with the powerful voice presented himself once again - a no nonsense man, he'd hurry us about as we went up and down. Once we climbed up and reached a floor and we were told that we were on the ground floor; we looked out - yes, that floor was built on top of a hill, so ground floor it was!

The rooms were really interesting - Zananas' room, kitchen equipped with giant utensils, the large dining room, the relatively small bedroom with ornate cots.... As we were going around, we grabbed every opportunity to be seated - even if it was for just a few minutes. We were left wondering how those who lived here years ago used to carry themselves around! After this tiring exercise, we sat down and massaged our poor knees and feet as we relaxed for some time.

Then we went to The Crystal House. What a collection of exotic crystalware - displayed on two floors! We came to understand that the entry ticket to this is a whopping Rs. 550 per person. Surely tourists making trips on their own would think twice about visiting this place! (In fact some curious cats in our group found that our travel company had shelled out a considerable amount just for that day - Rs 250 for City Palace, 400 for boat ride, 200 for Light & Sound Show and 170 for tea & biscuits.) The collection was HUGE and mind-blowing. What was most impressive was the marble washroom  - sparkling clean and inviting! We had not seen such a washroom anywhere - so nobody should have any qualms of shelling out for the expensive entry tickets!

We then relaxed watching the sunset at the lake as we enjoyed the cool breeze when we were served coffee and biscuits from the nearby restaurant. 




We once again walked back to the adjacent City Palace and took our seats for the one-hour 'Light n'Sound' Show. Once again we got to brush up our knowledge of history.

Early next morning we left for Chithorgarh. We reached there in 2 1/2 hours. From there we were taken in 6-seater autorikshaws to the various sections of the Fort. 


First we saw the stables .... and



and dilapidated fort.


The second section is the glorious Kirti Stambh which we saw from a distance. Next our autorikshaw took us to Rana Kumbha Palace ...



.. and Rani Padmini's Palace and garden, very interesting places. 


We could get into the special enclosure with mirrors - the spot from where Allauddin Khilji was allowed to have a glimpse of the image of Queen Padmini reflected in the well-positioned mirror as she visited the lake nearby. (A few months later there was the incident when a mob shattered the mirrors, agitating against the filming of Sanjay Leela Bansali's new film 'Padmavati' ).


Our next halt was yet another fascinatingly sculpted tower - Vijay Stambh 
complete with exquisite carvings.




The last halt was at Radha - Krishna Jain Temple and .....




Mira Mandir. What is impressive everywhere are the exquisite carvings which have stood the test of time.

This visit to Chithorgarh took us two hours. After lunch we proceeded to Ajmer. It was a three hour drive. 

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