Sitting at a roof top restaurant in Udaipur, India, looking out over the lake towards the island filled with white domed stone buildings adorned with numerous archways, it is not hard to imagine James Bond in a speed boat cruising through the water towards the island palace.
This atmospheric setting for 007’s Octopussy was an amazing starting place for our time in Rajasthan.
Southern India is more mellow than the north. Less traffic, less garbage, less cows in the street. Here in Udaipur, I felt like I was in the India I had pictured before coming to the country.
We dodged cows and rickshaws as we made out way down the main street in the old city. We stepped over cow patties while winding our way through the alleys. Stone haveli, the old homes of the medieval rich, rose on either side of the narrow streets.
Most haveli have been turned into hotels with rooftop restaurants. For the most part the food in Udaipur was terrible, but the rooftop views are spectacular.
The haveli are gorgeous with their stone carvings and archways, but we opted to stay budget in Udaipur in basic rooms for $7/double. The roof there still had amazing views though.
We visited the city palace, the golden architectural beauty we had been admiring during our roof top meals, even though we balked at the high entry fee (250 INR). I thought it was worth it to see the how the royals lived, but we didn’t visit any other palaces in Rajasthan. One was enough.
The Hindu temple in the center of the main street lured us in with its stone carvings rising towards the sky. The temple grounds are free to enter although a man at the entrance will ask for a donation to watch your shoes.
We were also approached by a man wanting to show us some art. We followed him through a hole in the stone wall to his gallery. The tiny details of the local art style are fascinating. We hadn’t considered buying any of the paintings before, but I was a little tempted by the triptic with Udaipur, Jaisalmer, and Jaipur represented by their symbolic animals, horse (power), camel (love), and elephant (luck).
We took at city tour (1500 INR) which took us to a funicular ride up to a city overlook, a puppet show, a produce market, a princess garden, and art school (here we gave in and bought the triptic).
Udaipur is a scenic place, at least in the old city. It was a gentle introduction into the crazier, dirtier parts of northern India.