Monday, May 25, 2009


After an afternoon stopover in Dehli, I took a 12hr overnight train to Udaipur in southern Rajasthan. I splurged on the 2nd class AC car, and it was fantastically comfortable (well for a train). On the train I met Aditya, who offered to set me up with a hotel with someone he knew in town. While I was skeptical, I had no better ideas, so I decided to accept while keeping my eye out for anything slightly suspicious in the deal. As it turned out, I got a sweet hotel for budget price, and his friend took me around to all of the tourist sites. They introduced me to all their friends and invited me to dinner and lunch with the group, which was a lovely experience getting to know young Indian people.

Udaipur is the "Venice of India" or something like that-it has 2 large lakes with gardens, palaces, and a hotel "floating" as islands in the lakes. Unfortunately, being that this is Rajasthan (the desert), and it is late-summer pre-rain, the lake was half dry and the palace wasn't really floating anymore. From "sunset point" in a park I watched the sun set across the lake on beautiful red desert mountains, and can only imagine how stunning it would have been had the lake been full. There is also a fantastic City Palace which is a combination of an old fort and an old palace, where the Maharaja of Mewar (Udaipur's region of Rajasthan) still lives today. We got to tour the non-living part, which was fantastically lavish in some spots, with brightly painted walls, mirrors, and tiles. I also went up to a hillside palace overlooking the city, "Monsoon Palace," where the views were fantastic but I was surprised and disappointed to find that the palace was completely run down. India seems to let a lot of its national treasures fall into disrepair, sadly.

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