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.