Incredible Northern India
March 14th - March 26th, 2012
 



March 24th, 2012

Very early in the morning some of the group took an optional jeep ride out into the country to visit a few of the village homes – some stayed back at the hotel to relax until it was time to leave for our flight to Udaipur. A short hop then afternoon arrival in Udaipur and check into the Hotel.

On the banks of the shimmering Lake Pichola, is one of the most romantic cities of Rajasthan. Nestled among the lush hills of the Aravalis, it has inevitably been dubbed the 'Venice of the East'. It is a kaleidoscope of fairytale palaces, lakes, temples, gardens and narrow lanes strewn with stalls, carries the flavour of the heroic past, epitomizing valor and chivalry. Founded in 1568 A.D by Maharana Udai Singh, the city is a harmonious Indian blend of whitewashed buildings, marble palaces, lakeside gardens, temples and Havelis. According to the legend, Maharana Udai Singh, the founder was hunting one day when he met a holy man meditating on a hill overlooking the Lake Pichola. Maharana followed the advice of the hermit and founded the city. The marvelous architecture of the palaces is spell binding. (Maharana is a title given by the British to a “Great King”.

Maharana Udai Singh enlarged the lake after he founded the city. He built a masonry dam known as Badipol and the lake is now 4 km long and 3 km wide. This picturesque lake encloses the Jag Niwas Island and the Jag Mandir, another island in the Lake Pichola, which is known for its garden courtyard. Shah Jahan took refuge here while revolting against his father. The City Palace extends along its eastern banks.

After checking into our hotel rooms, we have a light lunch before heading down to the dock to board our boat for a ride on this picturesque lake. We see people washing clothes and washing themselves. Then we arrive at Jag Mandir where we get off to enjoy some time here visiting the gardens and wondering what it must have been like living during those times. I had seen artwork inside the Palace last tour and this pleasure island was indeed very beautiful. In fact I had learned that on three sides it was walled in so no one could come on the island and the fourth side was open so they used to have crocodiles there…that way no one could come on the island for fear of being eaten!

Our hotel for the last two nights of our tour is the Shiv Niwas southern end of the Palace complex, the Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel Udaipur was originally Maharana Fateh Singhji's residence. The rooms around this awe inspiring courtyard were used as a place for entertaining personal guests. Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel Udaipur was the vision of the His Late Highness Maharana Bhagwat Singhji Mewar, which led to its conversion into a luxury hotel. Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel Udaipur is now categorized as a Grand Heritage Palace as it has been restored to its original pristine glory. http://www.hrhhotels.com/HRH_Properties/shiv_niwas_palace_hotel.html

After our boat ride there was some time to rest before dinner. On our way to dinner we saw a band playing drums and horns…I expect that because the Palace is right next door to us and you can see it when you walk to dinner, that this has been a long standing tradition so the Maharana would hear this music himself. I had asked to have a table set up next to the pool and under a big tree so that we could enjoy and evening dinner outside. Truly beautiful, especially with the light glimmering off the pool. There is a monstrous wall covered in bougainvillea and we are surrounded and enveloped in a kind of surreal space in time…lovely being waited on and treated royally.

 

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