11.10.2009 - 15.10.2009
It's an 8 hour bus journey to Udaipur from Pushkar. The bus is very spacious, big comfy seats, two on one side and one on the other, instead of 2 by 2. There are little ladders to bed spaces above, where lots of the locals settle in for the long journey. The highway is unexpectedly closed off, so we take a detour through the mountains. I enjoy seeing the alternative route, beautiful scenery and remote villages with children excited to see a bus passing through. But as all the main road traffic is trying to get along the one small road we soon get stuck. The road is very narrow and with lorries coming from the other direction it's almost impossible to pass through at times. Lots of people rally round to guide the vehicles past each other and we eventually get through, thanks to the teamwork!
Udaipur has an impressive palace complex, part of which is still used as residence for the Maharaj, part is a hotel and part is a museum. It sits next to a large lake that has the Lake Palace Hotel marooned in the centre. This is one of India's grandest hotels (needless to say we didn't stay there) and is known for its role in the James Bond film Octopussy. Although I haven't seen it. The Palace museum is interesting and beautiful. They used to fight elephants though, not so sure about that.
Here's some of my groups in front of the Lake Palace Hotel. There's 11 of us, plus Mahipal our guide. We're a group of 4 Brits, 2 Spanish, 2 French and 2 Scandinavian. Everyone's lovely and we all look out for one another.
Later on, Alex and I go to a tailors for our wedding outfits. We've decided that the sarees are too difficult to put on correctly, or wear, let alone dance in, so we're going for Salwar Kameez (sp?) instead, which is trousers and a tunic. It's cheap to get things tailormade here and is an experience in itself. After picking our fabrics, style and trims, we'll see them complete in a day.
The next morning, while we have a morning coffee an elephant appears outside! She looks very old, but loyal to her owner, who gives some children a short ride. The Indians seem just as interested as us in her, I don't think you can ever get used to the grandeur and beauty of an elephant!
Staying with animals, I manage to spot probably the only two dachshunds in Udaipur (if not all of Rajasthan) and am quite excited. There's so many stray dogs here, but I've hardly seen any pet ones.
Udaipur is a city full of little lanes and we enjoy getting lost down the back streets, where the craftsmen work. Our outfits from the tailors are delivered to the hotel that evening. It's exciting, hopefully we'll look good for the wedding.
From Udaipur we get another bus to Mount Abu. Mount Abu is, yes, up in the mountains. It was a hill Station for the British and rich Indians back in the day and is now a holiday resort for Indians. As it's up high, the air is cooler, a nice relief from the hot climate of India. These days it's used as a honeymoon destination and one of the few places where it's accepted for couple to hold hands! India is a very reserved nation and couples rarely show affection in public, but you'll often see men holding hands as this is normal for friends in their society.
It's interesting to see Indians on holiday, away from the hubbub of teh sities and away from most Westerners too. At one end of the town is Sunset point, where everyone flocks to see the sun set across the vast plains below the mountains.
It is indeed beautiful, but what I find more fascinating is how much they enjoy watching it, I've never seen so many people watching a sun set!
Once the sun goes down it actually got chilly, a first for me on this trip. We continued on our mini holiday with a pedalo trip on the lake.
We also visit a Jain Temple. It's very strict, no shoes, no leather, no cameras. The Temple is absolutely beautiful though, all made out of marble that has been intricately carved with elephants, people, gods and patterns. Stunning, shame I couldn't take photos, but I won't forget it.
Tonight, we are taking an overnight sleeper train to Mumbai, should be an experience!