Udaipur 1: The Venice of the East

After a long bus ride from Jaiselmer, we reached the beautiful and refreshingly peaceful city of Udaipur.  Maharaja-era buildings line the edge of the lake while bulls try to find mates on the streets.  The cows, however, always reluctant.  The lake palace seems to float effortlessly, always idle, in complete stillness. Among the odd combination of Indian kitsch and down-right splendor, we were surprised to find such a romantic place.  I suppose the fact that we moved from our 150 Rupee room to the ‘Honeymoon’ suite with corner windows and our most comfortable bed to date helped matters. On our second day there we decided to take a cooking class (see Udaipur 2).  The rest of the time was spent walking around the city searching for saffron to bring to Ahmedabad as gifts for the family and friends we were about to visit. After some hours in the bazaar, we finally found the Muslim quarter, complete with all the spices and fragrances one could ask for.   In a little government museum inside the city palace we learned that sometimes the most interesting things to see are in less visited places. Tired of the pompous ornamentation in the palace the government museum offered us decaying taxidermy coming back to life with mold. We loved it. Towards the end of our stay we took a day trip to the Kumbalghar fort and the famous Jain temple at Ranakpur. Udaipur was our last stop in Rajasthan, the perfect way to complete our month in the North.

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bus window to bus window a little glimpse of family life

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the balconies break down the scale of the walls facing the lake, adding texture and complexity to the facades
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we often wondered if our clothes were also taken to the waterfront to be beaten and washed

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a man pacing for half an hour on the boardwalk as the bulls tried to find mates to mount
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lake palace

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amazing to see that the hand still has an indispensable place in Indian construction…mechanization is just around the corner though

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lake palace from Hanuman ghat

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outside government museum, resting in the shade

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I climbed up this ledge for this art shot of the city palace (vivi)
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government museum: the “original” heads of a dynasty

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Vivi does the Lakshmi

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Grego does the tiger

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city palce

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city palace: brief moment when the ornamentation gives way to simpler forms that remind us of the quiet side of Venice, the Lido

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hard at work

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city palace
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about a fifth of vivi’s growing bangle collection.

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GUR! the stuff that makes Indian food (especially Gudjarati) oh so sweet

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on the road to Kumbalghar
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the fort at Kumbalghar has the longest fortified wall after the Great Wall of China

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Kumbalghar

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“can I take your picture?” Second most frequent question after “what country?”img_1287.jpg

and that’s how we feel at the end of the day

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men, with the slight help of their beasts, turning the water wheel to irrigate the sugar cane fields

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Ranakpur

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a Jain woman in silent contemplation

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Ranakpur

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Ranakpur

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Ranakpur: we felt a rare, quiet calm at the temple

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