After breakfast we found a moneychanger and then ambled through laneways to the royal palace. This is probably one of the nicest palaces in India, full of extravagant rooms and displays of the Mewar dynasty’s artefacts.
Explored the many rooms and courtyards of the palace before wandering off to have lunch at the Lotus Cafe, which does some great and imaginative food. Aidan had gone back to the room as he was feeling too good. Crossed over to Hanuman Ghat to watch the sunset over the lake, great views of the City and Lake Palaces, and very relaxing watching the changing light and the little boats pottering past us. Had a nice dinner at the Jasmine Restaurant near the bridge at Champol Rd. Next morning went to the Jasmine again, really nice people run it. Next door is a similar cafe which was always full of wankers, whereas the Jasmine was often empty, which was inexplicable given it was cheaper, had a better menu, good food and friendlier people. But who can ever understand the ways of the scarved? Entertainment in the morning as well as the beautiful sunrise was the locals bathing in the freezing lake. Wasn’t far to the Chetak Circle to catch a bus to Eklingji. Bus took us quickly through the suburbs and some hills, but the temple was a bit disappointing despite its antiquity. Then walked to the ruins of Nagda through some nice countryside, but the ruins were all covered in scaffolding and building work. Lake and surrounding farm land provided some excellent bird watching. Very relieved that a local bus came along and saved us the walk back to Eklingji.
Hopped off the bus at Sukhadia Circle which has a cute lake in the middle with paddle boats. Discovered a modern shopping mall there (Big Bazaar) so stocked up on munchies and snacks, and also saw our first Tata Nano car. Wandered about the very pretty Saheliyon ki bari gardens, one of the nicest gardens I’ve seen in India. It even has a public library in the middle. Lots of nice fountains and pools.
Got an auto back to the bazaar, but most of the shops were closed. Luckily though a sweet shop was open, the LMB, and it turned out to have the best gulab jamuns in the world (near the tower and Jain temple). Went back to our hotel and ate our sweets on the rooftop. After sunset went to the dance performance at the heritage Museum which was excellent. Some astounding performances, with puppets, dances with complicated cymbal routines and a bizarre trance dance which was amazingly similar to a trance dance we saw in Kaliurang, Java. Also featured a brilliant horn player that would put to shame a lot of new Orleans jazz musicians – must put it on Youtube one day. Some of the music had a gypsy feel to it too. Dinner at the Lotus again but was a bit disappointed by the very small serves this time. Rushed back to hotel to watch the Spurs game but it wasn’t on. By the way, our hotel is really great, such nice people there! Always think of them now when I listen to the song Tum Jo Aaye.
Watched this for the 2nd time as it was on World Movies and the last time was on a really bad DVD with crap subtitles. Enjoyed it much more when you know what they are really saying, especially the famous “bad Hindi” speech. The movie is based loosely on Chetan Bhagat’s book Five point someone, which apparently he never gave permission to film. It is a clever satire on the Indian university system and the cut throat competitive world students deal with there. But it also very funny and there are some great performance from all the cast, especially Boman Irani (soon to be costarring with me in “Tezz”) as the eccentric but dangerous dean of the college, “Virus”, Aamir Khan (as usual) and Omi Vaidya is really funny. Apart from the weird childbirth scene this is a great movie and would have done well in Australia if anyone ever bothered to promote Bollywood. 82/100
Our Maruti arrived about an hour late, piloted by a grumpy driver. We hired the car for 4000 rupees the day before from an agent in the square near the elephant statue.
Interesting drive through well tilled farms, many with rock walls separating the fields. Turned onto the freeway at a particularly rocky place that led us to Chittor, an amazing walled city on top of a mountain. Passed through some large gates on the drive up. First climbed up the famous honey coloured Tower of Victory, which had great views and intricate carving, and a unique winding stairway. Looked at a few of the temples and then Padmini’s palace with it’s elaborate gardens. The whole complex didn’t feel like other forts, perhaps because of its vastness. After looking at some monkey infested ruins and a palace in the middle of a lake we headed back into town for lunch at the Pratap Palace hotel, which was very fancy. Nice food and cute turtles wandering in the garden.
Back on the road to Udaipur, reached town quite late and the driver had to keep asking “uncles” the way. After the customary dispute over payment we got to our hotel. The Hotel Udai Nivas is about 6 floors, and we got a guided tour of their soon to open rooms which will be nice. Our rooms were really nice with nice painted ceilings and walls. The kids’ room had nice elephants painted on the roof. Our room looked out to the temple, which of course loved to play loud religious music at odd hours of the night and morning. Went for a stroll down to the lake, where some cows were resting on the ghat, before a nice dinner at the Orange Hill restaurant. Had some nice Rajasthani specialities such as ghatte. Wandered along and had ice creams despite it being cold. Disturbed sleep with the music, dogs and horns. Perhaps they should think about banning cars from the old town here.
As I’ve stated previously I can’t handle most American travel writers. They seem to spend more time writing about themselves than where they are. Paul Theroux does this to some extent to but at least he is funny in his grumpy way. However I’ve found a couple of writers that do a better job than usual, perhaps because one has English parentage and the other is a child of NRIs.
India calling by Anand Giridharadas
Anand grew up in the USA and for the most part seems more American than Indian, but the longer he is India the more he warms to his ancestral home and begins to appreciate it’s strengths and becomes more aware of what is holding India back. he makes some unique observations and covers some unusual topics. 65/100
Searching for women who drink whisky by Miranda Kennedy
Miranda sometimes slips into the “Its all about me” in this book, but her observations of her servants, neighbours and local community make it an interesting and amusing read. She also doesn’t hold back on anything either. But i really don’t care about her affairs and her “boyfriend” and would like to hear more about her foreign correspondent stuff in the future. 72/100