Wednesday, 12 November 2014

India: Udaipur

So, we were the original three Happy Wanderers again and with all of India at our feet it was a hard decision where to go next. After a hectic two weeks with our friends, it's fair to say we were exhausted and could do with some chill out time. Reading up on place after place, we decided on Udaipur, Rajasthan which is described as 'The Venice of India' - ideal! We hopped on our 7 hour train journey and settled into our hostel in no time. We stayed in yet another Zostel which had the most amazing views across Lake Pichola. It wasn't long before the peace of the city was ruined by a large family staying at the hostel to celebrate Diwali, all of varying ages from around 4 to 40. They spent all day and night sitting on the roof terrace making so much noise it was unbearable - we were beginning to think that sleeping for more than 4 hours was a crime in India! Luckily the family were only present for the first 2 nights of our stay, which meant we eventually got the rest we so desperately needed. 

Udaipur is like no other place we visited in Rajasthan, it's very much a safe haven for travellers. We had very little hassle from shops and rickshaws, no beggars or street children and the most amazing selection of cute cafes - what more could we ask for! Pretty much all we did during our time in Udaipur was eat, eat, eat... chat to the locals, chill out, then eat some more haha! Anyone who has travelled in India will understand that getting into a conversation with a local can sometimes cause trouble as they are more than likely just trying to sell you something. It starts off as a friendly chat of 'Where do you come from?', 'What is your job?' etc.. but ultimately they are interested in how much money you are going to give them. We get it, they're making a living, but sadly this makes you weary of getting chatting to the next person for fear of letting them down when you genuinely can't buy another pashmina! You'll be happy to know that Udaipur was not like this at all. We chatted to countless people whilst roaming around the shops, all of which were just interested in getting to know a little bit about us and our culture - it was like a breath of fresh air. 

We ate more food and visited more cafes than we care to admit during our stay in Udaipur. The best of which were Millets of Mewar and Lotus Cafe. 

Millets of Mewar: Strives itself on serving healthy vegan foods. The variety on the menu was amazing, all at a decent price. For dinner we ordered pizza, chickpea masala and cookies. We enjoyed so much that we went back for breakfast the next morning where we ordered mixed fruit porridge, nutella pancakes, breakfast burittos and coffee and ice-cream (all of which was claimed to be healthy so we didn't feel too bad!). The atmosphere in the restaurant was what gave Millets its personality - the entire first floor is covered with floor seating and you can get some great views of the lake. The service was a little slow on occasion, but this was understandable considering how busy it got during dinner time. 

Lotus Cafe: Conveniently located in the centre of the town, we stumbled into Lotus Cafe on a whim after looking for somewhere with a decent menu. Once we saw the cheap prices we decided it was worth a try - turns out it was soo yummy we went back a total of 5 times! Every time we were met by the cutest waiter who was happy to accommodate any request we had - swapping salad for baked beans was a Samantha special! Lotus Cafe was located upon a rooftop with views across to the City Palace which looked so beautiful lit up at night time.

After all the delicious food we thought it was time for some culture so we gave Jagdish Temple a visit. This temple is right in the centre of Udaipur so cannot be missed. Walking around the temple itself the detail of the building is so intricate with tiny elephants, people, flowers and patterns carved into the pillars. We stood at the back of the main shrine to watch and listen as women and children chanted and sang to worship Lord Vishnu, it gave the entire place such a magical feel which gave us all goosebumps. 

On our way out of Jagdish Temple we were distracted by really loud music and a crowd of people covered in coloured paint. One man pulled us to the side of the street and requested we follow him shouting "Hurry, you're going to miss it!". Intrigued we followed him through the small streets, into a cafe and out the other side where we were met with the most incredible sight. The entire street filled with people dancing to music so loud we couldn't hear each other speak. We had to insert a video as we couldn't explain the experience in words. We were later told that this was all in celebration of Navratri. A celebration spread over nine nights in worship of the Hindu deity Durga (the goddess of power and energy). 

Next morning we thought some more down time was in order so we entered one of the fancy hotels to use their rooftop pool facilities. It was so lovely to have this little luxury, and for only 300 rupees (£3) each for the whole day! We enjoyed soaking up the sun whilst listening to some music and catching up on writing our journals. 

There are numerous other activities available in Udaipur including a boat tour of Lake Pichola, a visit to the City Palace and Monsoon Palace and a cable car ride up to sunset point. We had every intention of covering all of this whilst in Udaipur but it seemed time just ran away from us and before we knew it, it was time for us to get on the road again. 

Here are our favourite pictures from our time in Udaipur: 

Jagdish Temple
Elephant with love heart! awwwh
Inside was filled with ladies chanting and singing - very magical

Navratri Celebration
The trucks playing music were stopped near the lake for dancing to commence

Food was so good...

...we came back for breakfast! COFFEE AND ICE CREAM!
Buying anklets - can't resist a bargain
Lotus Cafe - Look how cheeeeap!
Sarah cannot contain her excitement for her butter masala 
Pool Day!
Thanks for allowing us to recuperate Udaipur :D 

Happy Wanderers 

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