The first city of our inland tour of India was Udaipur. Venice of the East and City of Lakes.
We flew from Goa to save ourselves some time. The journey by train would have taken seventeen hours and we’ve got a couple of those coming up so we flew for £83 each with Jet Airways.
It’s the hottest time of year now and the further inland you head, the more intense it gets. The taxi from the airport was interesting, nine degrees warmer than South India. 41 degrees!
Taxi’s will charge extra for AC, sometimes double so if you’re saving you can just open the window. The speed some of the drivers make, there’ll be a breeze to say the least. In some cases you’d be lucky not to lose your eyebrows.
Herds of cows, sheep, pigs, goat, dogs, cats and monkeys rule the roads and there isn’t a whole second goes by without a chorus of horns and beeps from the manic traffic. Scooters racing past carrying families of five all of them waving and giggling, tuk tuks manoeuvring around sleeping livestock in the road, smells of petrol and spices and frying rotti’s circulate alongside the more pungent perfumes from the animals and ravines running alongside each of the roads.
A complete sensory overload.
We’d chosen a homestay on booking.com a couple of days before leaving Goa. A rooftop room not too far from Lake Picchola with a view of City Palace (£21 a night) and when we arrived just after sundown we were both pretty taken by the view.
The family that we stayed with, their Grandad was a nobleman and they were given the house by the King hundreds of years ago.
The next day was hot and very hazy. We were invited in to a cafe for masala chai by some local guys about our age after asking for directions. We sat getting to know them for an hour or so, it was nice to just chew the breeze with strangers who are equally as intrigued about your world as you are about theirs.
The palace was beautiful but sadly I forgot to put the memory card back in the camera (minus ten girlfriend points). We did however find a lovely place to eat lunch overlooking the lake which is down some very steep and densely populated backstreets.
It wasn’t the cheapest but it was spotlessly clean and served delicious pancakes. The heat meant that it was too hot to walk around so we spent the early afternoon sat there grazing and watching local kids jump into the lake from the rooftops.
You can take a trip around the lake on a boat if you like but we found ourselves rickshawed back to the room and fast asleep by 3pm, not moving until the cooler evening time. We’d tuk tuk to the lakeside for 50 rupees, find a spot with some cushions to melt into and eat a slow dinner at HariGarh watching the festival across the water.
After three days there, we were ready to move on to our next Rajasthani pitstop.