On the road again…to Udaipur

Our driver, Prakash, arrived and we set off for Udaipur, the city of lakes, founded in 1559.

We stopped and bought some guavas from some ladies by the road, and also some excellent samosas in one of the towns.

roadside guavas

Along the way we passed large areas of wheat cultivation being harvested so there were many people working in the fields harvesting the wheat by hand. This work seemed to mostly be done by women, and the sight of them in their brightly coloured saris in the golden wheat fields was beautiful, belying the arduousness of work in the heat of the day. The sheaves of wheat were then loaded into threshing machines and the harvest was then loaded into what looked like  huge overfilled bags on the back of trucks or tractors. We saw many of these along the road. The tractors were often decorated with tassels and tinsel and painted in bright colours. There are so many sights along the way here that seem remarkable to us, but are clearly commonplace for the locals. Cows, bulls, buffalo, goats, pigs and camels all roam around freely, crossing roads at will and eating whatever they can find.P

Another area we passed people were making bricks from clay then building hollow mountains of unbaked bricks inside which they would build a fire to cure the bricks. Once again it seemed the women were working very hard carrying loads of bricks on their heads, piled up in a neat stack of maybe 4 or 5 bricks high by 4 across and then climbing the brick mountain to place their load at the top. It must be so hazardous and exhausting, and it seemed an impossible feat of balance and strength. I have nothing but admiration for the women in this country, they do hard manual work beside the men and also cook, wash and clean as well as bear and raise the children. In many fields you could see makeshift shelters with little ones sitting in the shade underneath while their mothers toiled nearby.

We stopped for lunch in an area know for it’s slate quarries, here once again we saw the hard manual labour of men and women together breaking up the huge blocks of red and grey slate into thin tiles.

Lunch was in a dingy basement below a couple of roadside shops. The food was excellent despite the uninspiring decor and dubious cleanliness. At the back of the restaurant was a slate business, of which we were trying to get a photo. Of course then the local children wanted to have a look at us, so we had an audience. They laughed and smiled at me when I said hello, I’m sure they were wondering about the crazy white lady with the hair like a sheep. (My hair is out of control and looking a bit wild) We gave the kids some sweets and they waved us goodbye with big grins on their faces.

The road was mostly good, quite a bit being a four lane tollway, although the last 100 km or so, there was a lots of roadworks, building the new Delhi to Mumbai expressway, so the going was a bit rough, slow and dusty. We arrived into the city of Udaipur at dusk, and as you come over the hill you can see the city in the valley below, so many white buildings and the monsoon palace on top of the hill overlooking the city.

Udaipur – city of lakes

We arrived near our hotel, but because it was located in the old city, the streets are too narrow for cars, so Prakash organised a tuktuk to take us and our luggage the remaining few hundred metres to our hotel. Our room had a balcony looking out across the lake, and at night the lights reflected in the lake have a fairytale look.

The first night in our hotel I could not sleep, as it had the hardest bed I have ever felt. (I know this is an effect of my privileged life). But seriously you could have dropped a bowling ball on it and it would not have made a dent. So we spoke to reception the next morning and they showed us some other rooms. So there I was trying out the bed in each room like Goldilocks, looking for the one that was just right. We settled on one that was at least a bit better.

After dropping off our laundry, we headed for a street market. As usual this was totally chaotic, noisy and crazy but vibrant and amazing as well.

In the evening we headed up to the top of the mountain to the monsoon palace which overlooks the city, to watch the sunset. This is where the Maharajah spent the wet months, presumably to be well above any chance of flooding.

After a better night’s sleep we took a boat ride around the lake and to the city summer palace, which lies on an island. At present the water level in the lakes is quite low, so it’s not looking it’s best, but I imagine that after the monsoon rains it looks very pretty.

We have eaten in two great restaurants here, enjoying kebabs and a variety of delicious breads from the tandoori, as well as spicy curries and some awesome pickles, followed by lassi. Generally we washed it down with a Kingfisher beer, or my favourite soft drink here, fresh lime soda (sweet). The food so far has been excellent, thanks to the great advice from our driver, Prakash.

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