As we have decided to stay in Udaipur at least until Diwali, we stick with our “do one thing a day” concept.
On Thursday we had long, long breakfast up until after noon in our regular place – Millets of Mewar. There was a woman sitting next to us having something on her plate that looked very delicious. So I just asked what was that she was eating. That’s how we met Monika, who is currently living and working in Udaipur. She gave us some tips about local restaurants and invited to come by the hotel she was working at the moment to have dinner there and a decent chat.
So we learned that the best Chai place in the town is just 50 meter further from our regular eating place. It is a little blue stand just before the footbridge. The chai is made right on spot by 10 years old boy or his father. From now on we would come here at least once a day to enjoy a little glass of masala chai. Through the next few days, we would also come here with some locals which all agree this is the best chai in town.
Our activity of the day was to see the show of local dances that takes place every evening at 7pm in the *** Museum. It is an hour long show that presents different traditional dances of Rajasthan. The dancers and the musicians were not the first class performers, but it gave a nice insight in the local tradition. Sitting dance using working tools as choreography elements, a dance with a tower of water pots or pots with burning fire on the head of the dancer and puppet show were among the presented pieces. The costumes of the dancers were spectacular – vivid colours mixed with great deal of silver details. When the dancing women were doing there turns they reminded me of nothing else, but heavily decorated Christmas trees.
We had our dinner is Monika’s work place, so we could try some more of local dishes and steal some tips of sites to visit in Udaipur and places to see in India.
Friday was the day of moving. We changed from our big window and terrace lake view room to a regular, modest room a little further away from the tourist centre in a guest house that claims to be “the first eco-loge of Udaipur”. No complains – our room is 3 times cheaper and we can refill our water bottles with filtered water anytime, we can wash our clothes in a freely available washing machine & there is a big rooftop terrace that we can use 24/7. It is associated with Millets of Mewar restaurant, so they also offer free food delivery from the restaurant, if you fancy.
It turns out that our little window that faces a corner of another rooftop is a hang-out place for monkeys. At the beginning there was one who came to sit right next to our window, but soon enough there were 4 monkeys sitting 1 meter from us. They were checking out their own fur and limbs and from time to time giving a helping hand to one another with looking for little animals in their fur. We were sitting in a room behind a window with bars and protective screen, but they were outside minding their own business.
Apart from moving our activity of the day was to watch sunset from one of the hills that surrounds Udaipur’s lakes. We had to cross the whole touristy area to get to the bottom of the hill that we had planned to conquer. Even though the sun was getting low it was still hot. In the last part of the hill there were irregular stairs that we had to climb, it was quite a work-out for both of us. The view to the lake and the city – both the centre and the surrounding suburbs – was worth the effort.
Saturday we had planned to do the boat ride on the lake during sunset, so we had the whole day for wondering around. We finally got to wash our clothes. Yeah! 🙂
As usually, on the first night in the new place we did not have too much of good sleep, so we also took the opportunity to have a nap during the day. In the end, the nap took a bit longer than planned, once we got out of the house we were running a bit out of time for the boat ride in sunset. We still had to cross the whole city centre to get to the City Palace were they offer boat rides. As we got there it turned out that we were too late. Oh, well… no boat tour for us.
We decided to have dinner in one of the places suggested by owners of our regular restaurant. As we were moving towards the location we passed by a photography gallery we had heard about. We went inside to have a look. In the end we spent there more than an hour chatting with the photographer and his brother. It was really interesting to see Rajish Soni’s work. As one of his techniques he uses hand colouring of the photos. First a black and white image is printed, then paint is used to colour the whole image or details of it. The style is very similar to what we can see in the photography of late 19th and early 20th century. Most of the photos are in a contemporary setting, which sets them in nostalgic aesthetics of passed times. Rajish uses technique for both event photography e.g. weddings, as well as for curated studio work. In the first case the colouring of the photography is rather a decorative effect, but in curated image made in studio the colouring of the image has an aesthetic value.
By the time we left the gallery we were very hungry. We went to find the restaurant Tribute that was suggest to us. The restaurant is located a little bit out side of the touristy part, in the block of private houses.
Just before we reached the restaurant we were stopped by local kids who were entertaining them selves with hand made crackers, while their grownup siblings were testing different pyrotechnics for the upcoming Diwali. 3 boys age 10 and 12 crossed our way and wanted us to try our their handmade crackers. It is hard to say no to kids… We had a lot of fun with them! The crackers were made out of regular notebook paper. I imagine that those were pages with some not so successful home work. I even spotted some red pen marks on the pages.:) At the beginning I did not succeed, but once I managed to get the required bang! out of the little origami cracker cheering filled the whole street (I was one of the loudest to express my joy). The boys were very proud to have thaught us something. I find it as a Diwali gift. It was 10 minutes of pure joy! They even gave us a hug J Thank you boys!
Once we reached the restaurant, we realised why it had a very high rating in TripAdvisor. Tribute is a fancy place. Table on terrace next to lake. Napkins, bread plates and dining in candle light. Apparently you need to reserve, but we were lucky to be early enough to squeeze in before the restaurant was full. Unlike in other places you will find a separate menu for drinks where cocktails, beer, wine and stronger drinks are widely available. The price is approximately double what one would pay in regular restaurant in the city centre. The food was good and they know how to please their tourist clients – at some moments we had 4 waiters around us to serve. It was so good that we made a reservation for Diwali – we should also celebrate the local festival. 😉
The day we finally had the boat ride. The first half of the day we were slow. Slow with waking up, slow with breakfast, slow in the city wondering around. Once we reached the City Palace complex we had to make a decision. Boat ride during the day or in the sunset (there is also 300 Rs per person price difference, if you choose the sunset option). We could not make up our minds, so we just paid the entrance fee for the City palace complex 30 Rs. The ticket allows you to walk around the territory of the Palace – near the lake, in the park and in the courtyard of the palace. We just wondered around, lay down in the grass, had some photo moments and overpriced Coca-Cola. Then we finally decided to have the boat ride at sunset. So we wondered around a bit more and enjoyed the green lawn to have a little afternoon nap.
The boat ride was O.K. – you get to see the whole City Palace complex, the main tourist are from lower point of view and visit an island that is turned into a hotel complex with restaurants and caffees. I would have been happier, if we paid less, but it is true for so many things.