08 November 2009


We had a very close escape on Wednesday when we got on the wrong overnight train at Ajmer station. Luckily we realised just before it pulled out and sent us 100 miles in the opposite direction of our next destination, Udaipur.

Rather confusingly, being as there are no canals here, Udaipur is referred to in our guidebook as the Venice of the East - did you know that Birmingham has more miles of canals than Venice ;-). The town is centred upon Lake Pichola, which contains Udaipur's most famous landmark, the Lake Palace.

The palace, which was built in 1754 under Maharaja Jagat Singh II, looks like it is floating on the lake but actually completely engulfs Jagniwas Island upon which it is built. Bond fans may recognise the Lake Palace from its staring role in Octopussy where it out acted Roger Moore. Unfortunately we weren't able to visit the palace as it is now the rather exclusive Lake Palace Hotel. Unless you're staying, the rooms start at $450 a night so we're not, the only way you can visit is by booking into their very expensive restaurant, which we also can't afford! We instead had to make do with the view from the shore.

The second main attraction in town is the City Palace which is situated right on the lake side overlooking the Lake Palace.

Construction of the City Palace was started in the 1500's and was added to over the years by various maharajas.

Just outside the City Palace is the Jagdish temple.

The carving on the temple is incredibly detailed and looks as though it was done yesterday despite the temple being built in 1651.

We've also visited Bagore-ki-Haveli, a grand 18th century house built by a former Indian prime minister.

The house has 138 rooms, some of which have been turned into various bizare exhibition spaces. This included some very low quality contemporary art and several rooms packed with turbans, including the worlds largest.

Apparently, the colour and the way you tie your turban can indicate your religion, caste, social status or job. There's even a specific turban of the ground nut vendor.

The strangest exhibition was a room that featured world famous monuments that had been, very badly, carved out of polystyrene. The Eiffel Tower was strangely misshapen and the Statue of Liberty looked like she was holding a giant croissant aloft.

On Friday we hired a car and driver for a few hours to visit a couple of sights that are located further out from the centre of town. The first stop was at Saheliyon-ki-Bari, otherwise known as the Garden of the Maids of Honour.

As well as the gardens and some fountains it also featured the worlds crapest museum. Among the many scintilating displays were some rocks on a plate, three five inch high plastic dinosaurs and a prawn in formaldahyde.

We then made our way out to Sajjan Garh monsoon palace which is located in the Aravalli hills overlooking the town.

We've really enjoyed our time in Udaipur. It's a nice town with some great sights (excluding the crumby museum displays).

There's also lots of really nice roof top restaurants where, after the vegetarianism that was enforced by Pushkar, we've been enjoying copious amounts of meat, eggs and just one or two beers!

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