Weekend Getaway – Udaipur

By Alankrita Anand (PR Coordinator)

 

 

 

 

Have you also been bitten by that bug that’s making you restless, making you want to pack your bags and disappear…into colourful lands with enchanting histories, of kings and queens, of knights and bards? If so, then here’s your ideal weekend getaway- Udaipur, the City of Lakes. Founded in 1559 as the capital of the Kingdom of Mewar by Maharana Udai Singh II after Chittor fell to the Mughals, this city nestles in the bosom of the Aravallis, the oldest fold mountains in India. Known for legendary icons like the valorous Rana Pratap, the ever-loyal Chetak and the sacrificing Panna, the city of Udaipur spells magnificence even today. It takes pride in parading itself as the city of the pure, the White City, and this not for the colour of the buildings but much more. Come, catch a glimpse.

To fit an Udaipur trip into a two-day itinerary is not justice but here are the spots that make it to the list; let me take you over them one by one. The City Palace- the royal residence of the ruling family, not one but a series of palaces, a true jewel in the crown when lit up at night. It now houses a museum and is thronged by hundreds every day. The erstwhile royal family, with Maharana Arvind Singh at its helm, continues to reside here. Not known to many, the Mewar dynasty, which claims ascendancy from the Sun god, happens to be the longest ruling dynasty in the world, currently in its 76 th generation. Our fascination with blue blood remains, despite the fact that the Constitution got done with the concept of royalty, we did not. So, just for the record, HRH Crown Prince Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar also calls the palace his humble abode. Now ladies, get packing! Don’t miss the call of royalty.

On to Udaipur’s famed lakes, while Lake Pichola houses what was once the summer palace of the Maharanas- the beautiful Lake Palace and the Jag Mandir which once sheltered Emperor Shah Jahan while revolting against his father, Lake Fatehsagar gives one a panoramic view of the surrounding hills that glow in the warmth of the setting sun…surreal in their beauty. A sequence from the popular Bollywood film Hum Aapke Hain Kaun was shot at the island here and lo! a sequence from the Bond film Octopussy was shot on the hilltop yonder. And the list continues. You can take a cable-car ride at Lake Pichola or ride one of those colourfully bedecked camels but all of this only once you’ve taken in the sheer beauty and, may I add, purity, of the sparkling Lake Palace.

A must visit on your itinerary should be Haldighati- the turmeric-coloured valley where the brave Rana Pratap fought Raja Man Singh of Amber, where Chetak braved all to save his master. Take a tour of the museum to re-visit those historic events and pay tribute at the memorial of Chetak, a truly deserved honour. See not if the famous poem ‘Chal Chetak par talwar utha…’ rings in your ears. Here is a land that sings tales of bravehearts, of those never submissive, of those ever unconquered.

Now, for some unforgettable gastronomic delight (and also traditional folk art), spare an evening for Aapni Dhani, a traditional, Rajasthani-themed village. With sugar and spice and all that’s nice (to be more precise- home-made white butter with lip-smacking combinations), their lavish 18 course meal with leave you craving for more. The icing on the cake being the fantastic service making one feel no less than royalty. And let me assure you non-vegetarians, this meal is serious food for thought. Like me, you too may contemplate vegetarianism! Bon Appetit!

For lovers of retail therapy too, Udaipur had much, much to offer… Its streets, especially the ones around the ancient Jagdish temple and the City Palace, are lined with little shops that sell golden mojris (a type of traditional footwear) and silver trinkets and bandhini (tie and dye) skirts in every hue. For more, splurge in the emporiums which showcase the widest variety of handicrafts ever. The many stories of valour and honour aside, do take a keepsake home. Before wrapping up, for the love of wheels, I suggest a visit to the Vintage and Classic Car Collection. Nothing, not even the latest Porsche in town, can match up to their oomph factor!

As your whirlwind of a two-day trip ends, here’s why Udaipur is known as the White City… It is because its people have believed in true honour and pride since times immemorial, never has there been an incident that left a dark patch on the city’s glorious history. Modern society will (and must) question these concepts of honour for it also includes practices like Jauhar (women jumping into funeral pyres to maintain honour) which were glorified. However, for the people of the White City, honour and pride (in their modern manifestations) remain supreme. While the rest of India had Maharjas, Udaipur had Maharans…brave warriors who never surrendered. That, for you, is the spirit of Udaipur. Now’s the time, go partake in it.

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