We are very fortunate with our location. The big window next to our bed is offering not only a beautiful view on the lake and the city, but we can also see the sun rising above it. The name of the Panorama hotel fits with the truth and offers a beautiful view. For Wednesday morning we had a plan. Get up early and see the sun rising from a lower point of view a little bit closer to the water.
The sun would rise at 6:45 am. Once we were finally out in the streets we could see the city slowly waking up. On our way we mostly met cows and dogs that were wondering through the narrow streets and looking for some piece of food (or anything else that looked like food). Our destination was the little temple at the water that is located at the end of the peninsula: Hanuman Mandir. Stijn set his cameras for time lapse. One of the camera was on stairs going into the water. I was sitting there to guard it and simply enjoying the view.
It felt like a gift to sit there and observe the daily life of Udaipur. At first few men came to clean the stairs at the water. That came rather as a surprise (oh, stereotypes..). It is logical that someone would clean the territory of a temple, but as most of the places in the city look dirty and have some trash lying here and there, I just did not expect that. There were men coming one by one to have their morning shower. First they would take off shirt and wash it with soap in the lake water. Then they would wash them selves.
One of the man came to say hello and ask about the camera that I was guarding. Then he took of his clothes (up until underwear), wash his shirt and then start his practice 2 meter from me. He was sitting facing the water. He had his meditation, pranayama practice and some joint warming up before he had his wash in the lake. His practice was pure, without any struggle, undisturbed by the fact that I was sitting there just behind his back. Something I truly admire.
After an hour or more I went back to our room to have my own practice. Stijn stayed in the location and had some more encounters at the temple sight.
First two young college students started talking to me. As science students they were specifically interested in what I was doing with this little camera and why I was pointing it at a wall. I explained I was capturing the shadows from the trees that were cast on the wall in order to see the movement of it by time. They explained that sometimes before going to college in district 14, they come to sit near the temple because of the magnificent view, to enjoy the silence and the waking of the city before jumping into a hectic day.
Shortly after they left, I also took my camera and went back into the direction of the hotel. On the way back, a seemingly friendly man walking into the direction of the temple together with his daughter started talking to me how beautiful it is now at the moment. I agreed and he asked if I also went on the roof of the temple. There he got my interest because clearly I didn’t even try to do that. So back to the temple and all three we went on the roof. First we had to pass an older man living in the temple since many years. He was about to make some food, but we could pass without any problem. On the roof I took a few photos, but didn’t want take too much of his time. In the end, he came here for a “shower”, not to talk with tourists. Going back down we still talked a bit about the resident of the temple and he said it was no problem at all to make some photos. Though this would be a perfect opportunity, I did hesitate. This man was making his breakfast. No need to disturb him more than needed. I can imagine living in this place already gives him very little privacy.
Next I was introduced to a 85 year old man who comes every single day to the temple to wash himself, rub oil on his skin and do the necessary relaxation and treatment. The retired police man had a bit of trouble hearing (so do I), but his english was remarkably well. He explained me that since his 18 or 20 years he has been practising yog (according to him, ‘yoga’ is not a correct word), for every single day. Later that day he would return home and somewhere before lunch he would have one hour session of yoga. Sitting at the temple, he undressed and put on some very minimal underwear. Next he did cover his skin with some special oil which not only feeds his skin but also is good for the bones. I sat, listened and took a few photos. Later on I was introduced to Chauhan. He has a bike and for only 500 Rs he could take me into the local villages out of the city. I said this didn’t fit in our plan for today, but again, did write down his phone number and said I’ll let him know when and if we could do such a trip. A few days later, we did call him to setup a date. More on that later…
We had our long breakfast in the newly discovered Millets of Mewar were we profited from the wifi to do some work and updates. Our “one activity of the day” was visiting the Rose garden that we had passed by when we were picked up from the station on the arrival day. To get to the park we crossed the most touristy part of the city. Then we got on the road were little shops were gradually becoming less frequent, until they would be exchanged in to small street food stands. We found the park which turned out to be also a zoo. We decided to stick with the free-of-charge part. A little later it turned out to be a wise choice. Who pays for a zoo in India, if you have chance to see birds, squirrels and monkeys playing just around you!? The rose garden was not much of success, simply because at this time of the year all the roses are pretty much done with blooming. But we had a nice walk away from street noises.
To get back to our part of the city we took a side road and discovered a completely different world. No more “please, sir, where are you from? What is you name? Have a look in my shop!”. Just everyday life taking place. Children that are just curious about you and can not stop waving and smiling at you. We also passed by few market places that we would like to explore more in one of the upcoming days.
When we went back to our room we saw another performance of monkeys. Before I had not noticed that there would be monkeys also in the city, but it turned out that there are quite many of them. First we saw some serious tree shaking next to a Hanuman temple that was waking us up every morning with constant uninterrupted bells for at least 15 minutes. Then monkeys one by one showed up jumping from tree to roof top of a near by house, then electricity poles, using wires as support. By no time they were across the street on our side, sitting on the rooftop of house next to our guest house.
When monkeys were gone we slowly went for dinner in our new favourite place that is only 3 min distance from our guest house – very convenient.
Hi both of you, very interesting reading about your adventures, bold move to travel like that. And Stijn, your pictures look stunning. Greetz from Portugal 😉