India – Exploring Udaipur

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From Ahmedabad to Udaipur — 12:30:00 PM Start for Udaipur, 2:15:00 stopped for lunch -a thali with excellent paneer w red sauce, pickle, sabzi, dal, rice roti 50R.

Major roadwork underway as part of a ‘Dream Project for the Golden Quadrilateral’
signs triumphantly declare. Often these are just 10-20 km sections of toll road, a brief track of 4 lane, divided highway seemingly at random. But the larger plan is to connect the traditional Delhi-Agra-Jaipur triangle and Udaipur with a network of modern highways. Bypassing towns and villages isn’t considered though, so long stretches run thru villages where one side of buildings has been completely razed. Some places, one side has been finished, or nearly so, and both lanes of one side support two-way traffic which then jumps to the other side after several kilometers. Looks like the entire project is under construction at the same time. Often where the roadbed has been widened, the track is now lightly asphalted or even dirt. Massive concrete bridges span rivers and wadis and provide choke points. On the open sections we speed along at 80 km then down to 20-30 when both directions share. It’s interesting to dream about how this could change this area -transit times will be cut in half or better, so transport costs should drop, and it’ll be possible to expand day markets much farther. That’s if these faster roads don’t become deathtraps -with speeds doubling, even though the highways are divided, there will still be those who go the wrong way, and the herds of cows, buffalo and sheep will still be encountered. [In theory they won’t be allowed on some of these roads, but that will be difficult to enforce] Cross into Rajasthan -and the roadside stands proclaim ‘chilled beer’! Well after dark, we arrive about 7:30 in Udaipur. Udaipur is the jewel of MEWAR -a kingdom ruled by the Sisodia dynasty for 1200 Years. We stay at another ‘Heritage’ hotel Jagat Niwa, but not an original building. In the twisty streets of old city, a small façade opens to a large interior court with 3 stories of lovely rooms — tall ceilings, divans in alcoves.We have a leisurely breakfast on the cool veranda overlooking Lake Pichola and the Floating Palace. We’re back in tourist country now -more
westerners, lots more smokers. Our new driver, Riyaz shows up, but the rest of our tour crew are late

Walked over to the city palace for a tour, then took a boat out to the Jag Mandir, a complex of palaces and mosques.

12/2 /09 Early morning, drove up to catch light on fort walls, Then drove to Udaipur -just under 2 hrs -people carrying water, forage; bullocks turning well pump and waterwheel. We’ve finally graduated beyond simple tourists -today we drove over 5 km on the wrong side of a divided highway, keeping a moderate pace in the rightmost lane [the actual passing lane for the proper traffic]. No one seemed bothered. Tried to avoid city palace which we had already visited, but driver kept insisting
-finally ended up there, but did not go in -visited Vishnu temple nearby -singing and dance service ending just then. Several photogenic holy men strategically placed. Did some shopping and bought some miniature paintings from several local artists

Driver told us not to buy from shops outside [we suspect because they don’t give commission ] then he took us to 2 ‘better places’ – one was the overpriced cottage industries, the other equally uninteresting; visited cenotaphs of majarajahs. Then back to shops for more paintings.

This was the height of marriage season and we saw at least 12 marriages underway – groom on white horse followed by women of his family brightly dressed. A push cart looking like a popcorn stand holds drums & audio for band to link to and blast away

On way out saw a sign pointing, reading ‘child’; couldn’t figure it out til we returned, and then we the other side it said ‘beer child’

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