Travel Story Contributer : Elita

It was quarter past two that afternoon and in an unspoken manner (where of course only our eyes did the talking), my friend and I decided to walk the distance. There was little else we could do; after a failed attempt at devouring the Rajasthani Thali that included the famed dal baati churma along with gatte ka subzi, panchmela daal, boondi raita and ghewar, for dessert. It was no wonder then our server at the restaurant volunteered to pack us a neat takeaway; said it would save us a couple of rupees since we wouldn’t have to buy ourselves dinner later that day! He had made a valid point.

The indomitale Rajasthani Thali

The beauty of travel – as you do more of it, is that you begin to notice the pace at which you begin to warm up to the places you travel to. There are places that you may want to allow yourself at least a day as you pick the vibe and acquaint yourself with your surroundings. However on the other hand, there are also places that you take to like a fish takes to water; you find there is no need for you to adapt. Within moments of stepping foot in, you feel like you already belong there.

Nestled in the Aravallis and nicknamed the Venice of the East, Udaipur is one such place.

Being serenaded by Lake Pichola

We had arrived to Udaipur by train earlier that morning and within a couple of hours after we had nourished our famished tummies, we were out and about on the streets. That’s how welcoming I had found Udaipur to be. It required no familiarizing. And unlike how tourism can otherwise change a place (for the worse), here in Udaipur everyone watches out for you and also offer you tips on things you must do so you are making the most of your somewhat limited time.

That’s how we first heard about Bagore Ki Haveli. Armed with no guidebook and with very little prior research on what the city had to offer, we were pleased to learn about it from the house-help at our homestay who had suggested we go watch the cultural program in the evening. We were glad for recommendation because we were left enthralled by the troupe who entertained us as we sat in rapt attention until the end while our feet lightly tapped and fingers snapped to the tunes of Marwar.

Interestingly though, we would also learn that the locals in Udaipur specialise in reading your face if you find yourself lost. Because on that afternoon after a wholesome lunch when we found ourselves momentarily disoriented after walking it to Gulab Baug from Lal Ghat, we had passer-bys pointing us towards the gate without us ever asking anyone for help! It seemed unnatural to us though we were grateful for it all at the same.

Antlered friends at the Gulab Baug

Udaipur lives up to the charm you keep hearing about it in ways more than one. How else would one then explain an auto rickshaw driver in possession of a visitors’ book filled with reviews of passengers he has helped ferry around? And did I mention his visiting card or that he was wearing a safari suit?

The grand City Palace

The charm of course is rooted in its monuments as well. The City Palace is amongst the most exquisitely maintained and run properties from days of yore that I have come across. And rightfully so – after all it was built for flamboyance over a period of 400 years at that! In contrast though the Monsoon Palace seems like a damp squib; save for the elevated and panoramic view of the city it offers. On the outskirts of the city is the Kumbhalgarh Fort which was built during the 15th century and is also the birthplace of Maharana Pratap. The Fort is the second largest wall in the world after the Great Wall of China. Indulge in some happy feet trooping around and watch as trees have melded into walls as if putting a time stamp on the fort itself!

Kumbalgarh Fort

A city so rich in its heart more than anything, it has left an indelible mark on me. Because just as there are different types of travellers, there are different types of places. Some places like people seem to embrace you almost instantaneously. Furthermore, it only helps when you can live right by a lake and choose to be serenaded by it regardless of the hour of the day.