The Travelling Teacher: The Uh-mazing Udaipur
This week I continue my journey across India. Last week I wrote about my time in Ahmedabad and this week it’s all about Udaipur. We only spent 3 days in Udaipur but I still have plenty to share with you!
I’ll be writing about how we made it there – just about! And, even though we weren’t there long we still made time to fit in a cinema visit – find out just how different it is to my typical UK cinema visit! I didn’t just hide indoors whilst here, so read on to find out about the royal cenotaphs, lakes and yes, even more visits to temples! This place is truly magnificent!
Udaipur: Getting there
There is the option to fly from Ahmedabad to Udaipur, however quite often many of these flights have connections so it often works out cheaper and about the same duration to get there by road. Searching online we found a competitive taxi company to deliver us safely to our accommodation. Now, I say safely….it very nearly WASN’T, though I must add that this was no fault of the driver. As we commenced our 5+ hour drive we decided to have a little snooze. We awoke to take in the views and after a short time suddenly the car breaks were slammed on and in front of us we faced a huge boulder that had rolled down the side of the hill next to the road. A very close call! Luckily, we completed the journey, it wasn’t ‘our time’ yet!
Our accommodation here was a home-stay and once we had made it here, we decided that after the ‘trauma’ of our event, we should head to the local mall for a Pizza Hut. Yes, I know, I know, it’s not very authentic but we had just survived a near miss – that’s a good enough excuse isn’t it? Even the smell of the open sewers here didn’t put me off my pizza!
Udaipur: ‘The force is strong in this one…’ Star Wars
There was a small cinema in the mall near our accommodation and we had spotted that they were showing the new ‘Star Wars’ movie before the U.K release date. We decided we would treat ourselves and as they had an evening showing in English, we had even more of a reason to go! They also had some interesting popcorn options available, from tomato popcorn, cheese popcorn to caramel popcorn! What would you go for?
The seats were comfortable and it cost us a whole 320 rupees for both of us. This equates to approximately 3 British pounds and 54 pence. FOR US BOTH!! I could not believe it. We were watching a movie BEFORE its U.K release AND it cost us under a fiver for BOTH of us. Now I am normally a loyal Odeon girl but after this I was questioning just what we pay so much for! Oh, I do love a bargain!
Before the film began the Indian National Anthem was played. As a sign of honour, we all had to stand up and sing. This was a ‘thing of the past’ but in 2016 the Government bought this rule in to instil patriotism and nationalism. There have been occasions recorded where people have been arrested for refusing to stand! This has faced much opposition and a film club in Kerala challenged this rule which, since the beginning of 2018, has led to this no longer being compulsory.
After all this, I have to say I wasn’t particularly impressed with the new Star Wars movie and felt like it went on a looooooong time. Are you a die-hard fan? Or, did you enjoy it? Please, convince try to convert me!
Udaipur: Royal Cenotaphs
One Sunday morning we realised we needed to get a new sim-card. The problem that I’m sure many of you will have experienced is, when travelling you don’t always have a complete grip on days. Regardless of how pleased we were of ourselves for tracking down the nearest ‘Vodafone’ using Google Maps, we soon realised that it was Sunday and as a result, most of the shops weren’t open.
Plan ahead if you need a sim card, we didn’t do this and ended up having to wait until Monday! (Plus there was an internet ban – read on to find out more!).
We didn’t let this quiet Sunday stop us from exploring. We were back in a tuk-tuk and headed to the Royal Cenotaphs. Now if you’re anything like me you’ll be wondering…what is a cenotaph? It’s a monument to someone who is buried somewhere else. Often cenotaphs commemorate people who died in a war.
The Ahar Cenotaphs are a group of cenotaphs in Ahar, Rajasthan. Here, there are over 250 cenotaphs which are from around 350 years ago. Ahar is famous for its cenotaphs of the Royal rulers. There are around 19 cenotaphs of kings who were cremated here. Am I the only ‘geek’ that gets excited about being in the same place as a somewhere to commemorate royalty?
These monuments are striking! They have columns raised on platforms which have an arched roof on the top. The architraves of the roofs are embellished and on the single upright stone of these architraves you should find an image of Lord Shiva and a figure representing Maharana.
Photography is supposed to be forbidden here, however for a small fee, the Gates-man will let you take pictures.
Udaipur: Lake Pichola
Another tuk-tuk trip and this time it saw us heading to Lake Pichola. This artificial fresh water lake is beautiful. I found it really interesting that this gorgeous sight that we were taking in was actually primarily created to meet the drinking and irrigation needs of the city. Even more interesting, the Lake’s claim to fame is that it was in the 1983 Octopussy James Bond film (to which many of the locals STILL brag about to this day).
We walked around the lake and then headed up a hill, past some resting camels to ‘Sunset Park’. Though the lake is beautiful from the ground, you can really appreciate it from higher up and the small entry fee for Sunset Park is definitely worth it!
The lake actually has 4 islands! These are much easier to see from the Sunset Park. You can also see the Sajjan Garh (Monsoon Palace). The park is really peaceful and has many different viewpoints so you can capture the perfect picture! Whilst gazing across the lake I also spotted that just below one of the viewpoints there were many trees and even more exciting….. there were many monkeys! Not only were there monkeys but also, again my little favourites, the ‘Timmy’s’ that I mentioned in last weeks blog (a.k.a – chipmunks). I was also extremely lucky to see a bird that almost looked like the shape of a phoenix when in flight. I believe it was an Asian Paradise Flycatcher – check them out! Very cool!
***TOP TIP*** Always carry small change so you can barter with the tuk-tuk drivers. Sometimes they don’t have change so if you have the correct money you won’t lose out on any money.
Udaipur: Ganguar Ghat
Not far from the Lake Pichola you can find the Ganguar Ghat. Here’s another one of them words that I wondered…what does it mean? I have to admit that at first, I thought ghat meant gate but, no. It actually means a series of steps leading down to a body of water, usually a holy river. This ghat is situated near the waterfront of Lake Pichola. It is clear to see why this is a popular tourist destination of the city.
I loved it here! We ended up walking around the narrow streets and taking in the beautiful buildings, temples and looking at the interesting shops and stalls and what gems they had to offer. We came across some lovely items and even ended up purchasing one of the heavy brass locks from one of the stalls out the front of a shop. There are many small streets here and you could easily spend hours trekking around the back streets and passing the donkeys hard at work carrying things through the streets. Keep close to the walls though, these streets are busy and lots of traffic passes you by. If you’d rather look at temples than shop then this place also has these a plenty to offer you! We saw some amazing temples here as can be seen in my pictures!
What’s it like to work here?
Good luck! The internet wasn’t great here. It’s not the most built up area (thought it does have a pizza hut) and it is quite sleepy in the areas outside of the city. As we were in a home stay we were provided with Wi-Fi but it was extremely weak…this is where the mobile sim card came in VERY handy!
Also, whilst there we had no internet for a short while. We were informed that the Government temporarily turned it off due to religious disagreements. After more research, we found that the reason behind this was a result of a murder that had been circulated online. Initially a 24-hour ban was imposed on internet services in Rajasthan’s Udaipur district however this was extended. Not being able to check my emails or being able to contact my friends and family felt even longer than a few days! Obviously this is a rare case but it is still one to consider.
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