Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Monday, May 15, 2017

Udaipur, Day 2

Water, (2 man-made lakes) means boat rides. Come all aboard for a leisurely put-put around Lake Pichola. The City Palace (which we explored yesterday), has steps leading into the Lake, flamboyant areas for boats to dock, marbled grandeur that today looks forgotten and forlorn. Ah, the good old days of the princely state are gone. I can just imagine the pomp and circumstance surrounding the comings and goings of the Maharana. In the middle of the lake was his Summer Palace, a place to get the cool breezes off the water, to cool down in summer. Lucky us that know A/C, it must have been hot with all the heavy gold clothes that were worn years ago. We just circled around the SummerPalace and saw some of the houses the elite, rich merchants and diplomats built on the shore. It was impressive housing for their time but today some are being rebuilt and others just need more help. One large section on a peninsula is today a hotel complex, rated by Trip-Adviser as one of the best. The LeelaPalace Hotel is about US$ 500/night and worth it according to our guide.

Our group disembarked on a smaller island known as the PleasureIsland. In olden days it was just for secluded parties and romantic tête-à-tête. Today unfortunately, it is used as a concert venue, tourist stops and for large conventions which ruins the peacefulness here.

Our next stop was a long exploring walk through Udaipur’s shopping street. I wanted to find something to take home for the grandchildren but the area was not suitable for that. Even Carol could not find the appropriate cotton top she was looking for. Western and Indian tastes run counter to each other.

So back we went to explore a garden complex, the SaheliyonKi Bari (Maiden Garden), an ornamental garden built in 1710 to 1734 by the King. He surprised his queen and her entourage of 48 maidens with this cool spot near one of the lakes as a gift. Here the Harem could take off their facial veils and be just among women and be free from the intrigue of the court of the palace. No men were allowed. Sectioned off garden areas have names which translate to:
Rain Without Clouds (fountains sprayed mist into the air)
Lilly Pond Fountain (numerous water lilies)
Sounds Like in a Rainforest, etc.
Each section had a small Palace and a theme in statues and displays, all had water splashing about that came from the nearby lake and cooled the air. The setup was sophisticated and clever and I am sure the women loved it then more than we can image today.

Another visit to an art shop, this one picked by Dinesh gave me another chance to buy a miniature painting. I could not resist, it will be shipped to the house. Krishna and a lover; a night scene and a bit dark, but we like it.  It is pained on camel bone. Unique, not something you find every day.
Carol found something in cotton, a robe; hand printed and very well made and a bargain to boot, for me and for Carol. Dinesh knows his spots.

Back at the hotel the wedding preparations for the Indian Wedding were in full swing. Henna hand painting was happening for the women in the wedding party, the women were showing off their colorful saris, men needed help with their dress shirts. It was a bit of a pandemonium but in a good, happy way. Music was barely audible from the dance floor at the far corner of the Palace where our rooms were. The night was soft and mild and clear.

The only sour note to all of this was the news that Dinesh could not finish the trip with us. Nobody told me why but we were just told that Dinesh will stay behind. It was like taking an ice water shower, not pleasant, shocking even. He was a great guide; he has what it takes to make an ordinary trip extra ordinary.

We will miss you Dinesh.

More Pictures of Udaipur

Fateh Garh Palace Hotel

Hotel Was Beautiful But Too Many Stairs

Being Welcomed With Rose Petals

A Rose Water Welcome Drink

Painting On the Wall In the Lobby

Part of the Wedding Party

Also Part of the Wedding Party

Spectacular Views
This Beautiful Woman Was Our Housekeeper

Wedding Preparations


Tile Work

Indoor Fountain

This is a Picture of the Huge City Palace
(With a Bit of Glare On the Glass

A Mirrored Room

Walls and Ceilings Decorated With Many Mini Paintings

Coloured Glass Windows

Sunday, May 14, 2017


Amazing Views From the Hotel
Lots of oohs and ahhs from the women in the group when we arrived at the Fateh Garh Palace Hotel outside of Udaipur, which is west of the city amid green fields, atop a hill. The views from anyplace in the Palace were outstanding. All the stairs, no railings, was not so much appreciated. Fateh Garh is a ‘modern’ replica of a Rajasthan Palace and what made it even prettier were the decorations being put up for the Indian wedding taking place that weekend. The rooms were large, the doors quirky to get into. Lots of colorful saris about, women in the bridal party had their hands henna painted, the colors were vivid and the atmosphere festive.
Inner Courtyard Normally Open to the Sky
Now Covered With Coloured Streamers 

On one night we witnessed a show of dance performances by the wedding party, led by a DJ, that was very unlike a western night club. Amazing India!

Hennaed Hands
It was a pretty place, high above with a view towards Udaipur and the lakes (Lake Pichola). No wonder Udaipur is called the Venice of India. And so much water in the middle of a desert. Udaipur is called an oasis by some but that is because it somehow rains more here than, let's say in Jaipur. This extra rain, this extra water allows for a greener look. To preserve and save Maharaja (Warrior Kings) had 2 lakes built (hand dug), with a small canal in between with which they could regulate the content of each lake. Water is precious, especially around these parts.
water the old

Right after we checked in to the hotel we were on the bus again to start our city tour. The City Palace of Udaipur, while it is a tourist place is also still occupied by the Singh family. The Maharaja, (Great King) of Udaipur, has reigned over Udaipur for 1500 years or a total of 76 generations making it the longest dynasty in India. Udaipur started with Maharana Udai Singh in 1560 and his heirs are still the head of the
Gates To the City Palace Are Open
family today.  Tourist fees help pay for the huge cost of upkeep for this giant Palace. Still, the Singh dynasty lives within the part of the Palace which we did not see.

There are many, many large mansions, houses, estates and palaces in Rajasthan, the land of the kings. But this Palace is the largest. Decorated with personal taste (peacock mosaics along the grand reception walls) of the people of previous generations and ‘modernized’ here and there, the palace had add-ons made over centuries which grew the palace to today's humongous size. It sits on a low, but steep hill side, abutting one of the 2 lakes. The lake
(Lake Pichola) is large enough to house a few islands, which also contain palaces or pleasure spots. I
An Ornate Swing
felt a little bit like an intruder traipsing through their relics. Naturally we were only
shown that part of the palace that is now the museum. Fancy rooms built for functions which are no longer in vogue or needed. Throne rooms are decorated with gilded silver and gold chairs and windows with bright window dressings, ancient elevators that do not run any longer, hidden staircases no longer used by service people, etc. It is a museum now, no longer an active part of how the Maharana live today but how life used to be.

This Large Painting of the Palace Complex Contains Many Miniature Figures

These Are Some Of the Figures In the Above Painting
One very peculiar thing about the rooms in this Palace, all are full of miniature paintings. Large areas on the walls, ceilings, anywhere there was space, full of paintings in miniature. All show events from the past, special days but also everyday scenes. They were painted as historical records. Not much was written down, but events were painted on the walls. So we, the visitors could see, did not have to read, the events that took place. It's like a series of photos, but since there were no photos in 1600 those happenings were painted. Some were wall-sized but with very small and accurate detail. Every face in the paintings is different. Each rider, each horse, elephant, ladies in their saris, etc. were painted as they used to be, just very, very, small. The brush that was used to paint those large pictures had only 2 hairs; hairs from the ear of a squirrel or sable. This brush provides a very, very fine detail, even within the clothing of the people, their expressions, their body language.  Amazing India!

Much Tiny Detail In This Painting
Those artists, those painters were special people; it took generations to develop this art form. Today, there are no more commissions from the Maharana for them.

Rather Garish Decor
Those artists, still around, now have to rely on tourists for their income. So, naturally, there are shops that specialize in miniature paintings, and also of course, there are good artists and not so good ones. I looked and priced some of them, just to be curious. Sorry, it was way over my head. A picture as large as my hand for US$ 4000, - was just too much. I understand the delicacy and time it takes to paint those scenes, still a lot of money, even though I would have liked to support those artists.

Udaipur has ‘only’ about a half a million people, a manageable size for India. Udaipur lives off tourism, even though the state of Rajasthan also lives off the mining of zinc, cadmium, marble, phosphates and talc. These old Mountain Ranges (Aravalli) are full of natural resources.

Members of the Royal Family Exercising Their Horses
It can get hot in summer (112F) or 44C and while there is a lot of greenery visible, it is a desert city. Today, in March, it was already 31C.

On the way out of the Palace, we saw 3 horsemen in military uniform and we were told they were part of the Royal Family exercising their polo ponies. It must be nice to live at this high level with palaces, polo horses, luxury cars, etc. from birth. For 76 generations money is no object.

We Had Dinner Under the Stars At the Edge Of the Balcony

Dinner at night for us was “under the stars“, on Milky Way quite visible. People from the wedding party at the next table in their finest dress, in saris, kept us company. It was a festive and romantic evening and ending to our first day in Udaipur.
the terrace of the hotel. There were no other lights on around us (only the flickering candles on the table); it was a clear night, starry skies with the

After Dinner We Watched Some of the Wedding Celebrations
But the Blue Lights Turned the Pictures Blue

Pictures Inside and Outside the City Palace

Entrance To the City Palace

Gateway Into the City Palace

Tile Work

Beautiful Ceilings Inside the Palace

Part Of the Reason Jaipur Is Called the Pink City

All the Doors Are Works of Art

Peacock Decoration Above a Door

Close-Up of Above Doorway

Filigreed Work Around the Arches

Rifle Collection

Beautiful Women In Beautiful Saris

Working Hard

Their Faces Are Very Expressive

Camels For Hire, For a Price

Want to Ride?

A Colourful Group

Need Some Material?

More Pictures Inside the Amber Fort

Inside the Amber Fort

No Idea Why This Sculpture Is Here

Looking Closely At the Above Sculpture

Stunning In All Her Finery

Looking After the Palace Garden

Palace Gardens

Amber Palace Artistry
More Artwork

Hans and Dinesh Seeking Shade

Everywhere You Look, More Beauty

Latrines Only Used By Royalty. Hate To Think What
Everyone Else Used

The Mirror Palace In the Amber Fort

Tiny Mirrored Pieces Reflect the Light

Whole Walls With the Mirrored Tiles

Looking Into the Mirrored Palace

Artwork Using Tiny Mirrored Pieces

More Artwork