We arrived in Udaipur after a 16 hour overnight drive in a sleeper-bus. The bus was interesting, we had a double bed lower bunk with a privacy curtain and a little TV where we could watch Bollywood movies. I managed to sleep, but you do definitely feel the bus going around corners... it was a fun experience though! We were met by Samvit, the owner of Chandra Niwas, the homestay we were staying at for the next 3 nights. After freshening up and a quick chai, Samvit introduced us to our auto-rickshaw driver, Kansing who drove us around Udaipur for the rest of our stay. This city is just stunning... it is a lot quieter than other parts of India, the people are lovely and you are surrounded by lakes and hills!
On our first day we went to Raaj Bagh for lunch, where we sat outside overlooking one of the lakes for lunch. After that we went to Pratap Memorial, Princess Garden, Shilpgram Artist Village and then the Monsoon palace for sunset. Kansing took us into the old town where we had dinner at Ambai, an amazing restaurant next to the water with a view of the palace! After dinner we met up with Samvit and went to a rooftop bar for a chai where we had an amazing view of the city, could see fireworks and hear the celebrations of a wedding below.
Day 2 started with a homemade breakfast of spicy rice, roti and curd. Kansing was already waiting in his rickshaw outside so we headed straight out to the city palace. We decided to pay for a guide who turned out to be amazing, explaining the history of the palace and telling us lots of stories. The palace is actually 11 separate palaces all joined together by passages. Two of the palaces are now hotels and the royal family still live there! After the palace we went to the ropeway and caught a cable car to the top for a view of the city followed by lunch at a little local place where I discovered Thali... multiple small dishes served on a large round silver platter. It cost INR 300 (£3) and they keep coming round to top the dishes up. I could barely manage the initial plate I'm not sure how anyone managed to have any extra. The restaurant was packed and we were the only foreigners in there... they were delighted we were there and went out of there way to look after us!
After lunch we met up with Samvit and he took us out for the afternoon. A little bit about Samvit: As well as running Chandra Niwas, our awesome homestay, he is a yoga loving veggie who is crazy about chai (he drinks about 4 litres a day... I'm sure thats what he said! :-)) He has two dogs who he loves called Julie and Donna, and he loves to talk about philosophy. He has also set up the D.A.A.N Foundation which includes two youth centres to help educate children in local villages around Udaipur! He drove us to see the youth centres and a potential site for a yoga retreat that he wants to set up. On the way we stopped in a tiny village for chai where a local bus stopped with people all piled on the roof. We were also lucky to drive past a village play with all male actors and the whole village watching. We stopped at tiger lake and at a temple that was built inside a cave in a hill. We had to walk through a long tunnel and inside there were about 6 men singing in front of a shrine. All the Indians we met and spoke to called us Britishers! :-) At the end of the day we went for dinner to Tribute, a restaurant also on a lake in a garden under trees!
Day 3 started with another breakfast of spicy lentils and toasties with some chai. After that we went to the house of Shashi, a wonderful local lady who taught us to cook Indian food. We made so much amazing food, it was one of the best cooking classes I've ever done. I have written a separate post about it if you are interested. After the cooking class we headed into the old town. We had a drink at a rooftop bar where we could people-watch and then visited the Jagdish temple and walked around all the little streets and shops. Chris got cornered and was head-butted by a cow as he was stuck between traffic and the wall and was in the cows way. His glasses went flying and at the time, it wasn't funny (it was hilarious) but he can laugh about it now... :-) We found another rooftop bar where we watched the sunset and just chilled... and then had some dinner at Ambrai (again! as it was that good)
Udaipur was the most beautiful place we visited in India. We met some amazing lovely people Shashi and Samvit, who were so interesting and hospitable... and really made our stay in Udaipur unforgettable.
We stayed at: Chandra Niwas
We ate at: Ambrai
We cooked with: Shashi
We planned our holiday with: India Someday
How you can help: Contact Samvit if you have any spare working laptops (not Apple!) or Hindi books (novels for ages 9-14) that you can donate and send to India for his youth centres