We were generally lucky all round with our short stint in Udaipur. As we were checking out we were told that just a few days earlier the lakes had been completely dry. ‘You could walk in them!’, smiling elevator man had explained. Imagine the horror, if we’d arrived in city of lakes, to find just a series of pits!
The flight from Delhi to Udaipur with Air India was faultless and speedy. As we’d be staying only the night in ‘the Venice of the East’, we decided to fly, as the short flight would allow us to spend the maximum amount of time on the ground in the city. We had just two goals for out stay in Udaipur:
- See the Water Palace and
- Get on a boat
…and our staying at Lake Pichola Hotel made that excruciatingly easy!
After a not so straightforward drive, we were relieved to arrive at Lake Pichola Hotel and place our feet back upon solid ground. The courtyard was picturesque and an adequate introduction to the ornate beauty we could expect around this hotel.
At check in, our hosts were all smiles and very happy to welcome us. We asked about our intentions to get food and take a boat ride, and it was if they had prepared a schedule for us. There was a boat departing from the hotel at 18:30, plus a space left for dinner on the rooftop at 21:00.
‘We’ll take both!’, we’d happily exclaimed.
Our room, was something else. Definitely my favourite view of the whole trip. My first thought when we got in and saw it?
‘I wish we weren’t leaving tomorrow’.
I reserved via booking.com, and had paid a couple pounds extra for a lake view room. The best two pounds I’ve ever spent. I’ve never seen anything like it.
After marvelling at the view, we pulled ourselves together and got down to real business – food. We ordered room service, and whilst they had no naan, (the only time that such an absurd thing had happened), it did give us the chance opportunity to try an alternative. Which ended up being a vegetable biryani – tremendous! Devouring this alongside some paneer pakoras, whilst taking in the view was one of my favourite meals of the trip.
Once it was time to board our boat, it turned out there were only two others sailing, so along with the driver we made the fabulous five. We spread out along the vessel, and enjoyed perhaps an hour of cruising around Lake Pichola and taking in the beautiful architecture along the river.
For monsoon season, we did very very well as far as rain was concerned. On this jaunt was the only time where we feared its arrival. As we sailed the sky darkened, but fortunately never opened up. You can see the stormy skies in our photos. The sunset seemed extra magnificent doing its thing juxtaposed against the dark sky and sea.
Just when we thought things couldn’t be better – dinner.
The rooftop restaurant was breath taking, and it became perfectly clear why they call Udaipur the Venice of the East. The pictures really don’t do it justice but, the sky was a blanket of onyx that fell around us. We were enveloped by enchanting live music from the sitar and flute, and illuminated only by candlelight, and the flickering lights from other buildings along the river.
Before we even touched the menu, we spent ages looking around gobsmacked. Our table was a little cabana type booth, with silky white linen draped like a four poster bed. It was a perfect setting. We had our first glass of Indian wine here, which was as delightful as any other wine I’ve tasted. I wish I knew a bit more about wine, so I could write with any sense about it! I’ll have to go wine tasting soon or something. Ultimately though, a beautiful meal in unrivalled surroundings.
The next morning, the sun was well and truly out, so we got to see the lake in a very different light. Light that we quickly decided would be perfect for photos. This marked our second attempt of wrapping ourselves in our sarees. Shanti shanti, we showed improvements.
After a delicious breakfast on the ground floor, it was promptly time to leave. We took a tuk tuk back to the same point we left our driver at the day prior and picked back up right where we left off.
Udaipur, is a place we both would have loved to spend a bit more time, so we could have wandered the streets on foot. The visit made me all the more excited for the day I actually get to Venice. I’ll have to see whether I prefer the Venice of the East or West!