Monday, July 13, 2009

Udaipur - Rajasthan

Udaipur July 11 & 12
Udaipur is a really cool place! Yesterday we went up into the hills to the Monsoon
Palace up on top the mountain, it is surrounded for miles by wildlife and nature
preserve so the views are unspoiled and it's very cool. They are in the process of
restoring the Monsoon palace but we saw a little of it and on the outside and entry
chamber it was really cool with fountains in both entry hall room bordered with 4"
high marble ledges. We enjoyed the views and cool breeze we are laughing to remember
how sweltering it was in Delhi now.. although we'll be back there in a few days! We
watched a huge storm dropping rain in sheets coming towards us as we sat on the
outside patio overlooking the valleys all around, til we felt the first drops then
scampered down the hill to the car just as the big drops started. We saw huge monkeys bounding across the road... Leugans or some such they were plentifl, also lots of goats, cows, water buffalos, donkeys, an elephant, some camels, as we drove around the lakes and hills.

Following a late authentic lunch prepared by Monica and her cook, we took a nap and
chilled out with the window open and hearing the silence and birds chirping. Dinner is quite late at Monica's as Arunesh is having some friends over and they will drink for a while before having theirs. We are there at 9 and it's decided to wait awhile and meet Arunesh's friends, which we do. Deepak owns the hotel we are in and also a
restaurant and has a contract with the concrete plant for materials. Sundeep and
Krupaj were not real talkative in English, most of the conversation was in Hindi so
after a few minutes we ate and they went outside to drink. We finished up by 10:30 and headed in for an early night of long rest... delightful! See you about 10 for

July 12
It's Sunday, and we enjoy an indian breakfast of tea, cheela's, which are kind of like pancakes made from chick-pea flour with thin slices of onions, coriander, green
peppers, and chilli peppers mixed in... you put a chutney of some sort on them and
they are fantastic! You eat 3 or 4 of those with fresh fruit pears, apples, bananas,
pomegranate and you are good to go! We have a second cup of tea and chat for a while, breakfast stretches out for about 2 hours! By now we decide to take a ride to old town and see the City Palace. Monica's family has been in Udaipur a long time, and her father in law had been the Maharana's family doctor, so she knows the family members going way back.

It takes about 2 hours to go through the palace at a rapid pace, Julie is not big on old buildings so she leads the way quickly, I am the dawdler reading every card and taking pictures of all the doors and archways... Arunesh is very well versed in
history, and he tells me many of the great stories of the Maharaja's of Udaipur, the
oldest continuous rulers in India, going back to say... 745 or so! In the genealogy
hall there are the photos of all of them, and a big chart of when they ruled, etc...
and he tells me the stories of the famous battles, and how the Rajputs were the only
ones not to submit to Akbar when he conquered all of India... the ruler went and lived in the woods until he would overthrow Akbar but he never did and died in the woods.. there was a famous battle where they were outnumbered and Akbar's army was on elephants so Maharana Prata had elephant trunk like things put on their horses so the elephants would think they were baby elephants and not attack the horses... the
elephants had sword blades attached to their trunks and they nicked Maharana Prata's
horse on the leg... the spirited horse Chetak turned around and bleeding, rescued the Maharana from danger and jumped the stream to safety... but, once reaching safety he expired. There is today in the center of town a big statue of the white horse in the middle of Chetak Circle. I know that name is familiar there is a scooter made by Bajaj, the Chetak, I saw one in the market later. A bunch of stories like these as we travel room to room seeing all the unbelievable architecture of white marble, glass, mirrors, inlays, doors, cupolas, little passageways, hidden courtyards, balcony's, fountains... war armor, swords, maces, you name it it's been saved and since the family still owns and lives in part of the palace, (another part is a 5 star hotel) many family photos and artifacts are on display as well.

We stop for lunch in the main courtyard, by now ac is welcome, and at a cool table
overlooking the front lawn discover it's Mexican day! After some insistent pleading on my part Monica and Arunesh allow me the honor of buying lunch, and a 5 course mexican meal follows, the food and service is perfect, and the chef comes out to make sure everything was OK. Following desert we take the car out of the palace and down a block or so into old town where we jump out to do a little shopping in the touristy area. We've seen many tourists today Arunesh says Udaipur is now one of the top tourist destinations in the world, maybe not in number of total tourists, but in the quality and value of the trip. You can get hostel rooms starting at about $1 a night, on up to $1300 for the top places.

It's pretty touristy so our shopping doesn't last long... we're going to do more
tomorrow but we'll go to the regular town market on Monday prices will be better.
Julie spots some headrags like I've been looking for the whole trip so Arunesh pulls
over and I jump out and walk back to the cart, where the guy sheepishly tells me the
large tie die's are 35 rupees (48 to the dollar), and the smalls are 10! 10! I say... 10! Yes he says, well, give me one of those, no make it two, and give me one of the big ones too. He looks at me? 35? this is 10? Yeah, Yeah, give me all three of them... crazy... american prices for lunch now 55 for 3 headwraps a couple blocks

We're back to our room for a nap until dinner at 9 then tomorrow it's check out time, shopping, and to the airport for our 6:20 flight to Delhi, we should get to our room by 10 before enjoying the press and head of Delhi Tuesday morning, when Julie is supposed to finally get her admittance if she is going to, to Delhi U, then she can plead her case for Miranda house college and the on-campus hostel.

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