It’s been difficult to start writing about India again with a pandemic hanging over us like a lead weight.
So far there have been over 3,605 deaths in the UK, and we face social distancing measures. Meanwhile, the Indian government have taken a much stricter approach, by imposing a 21 day lockdown throughout the entire country, in a bid to avoid further deaths. With a population of 1.3 billion, and so many densely populated communities, it’s critical that the government do everything they can to get an early hold on the virus.
I feel incredibly grateful to have planned my trip to India for the end of 2019. I know many haven’t been so lucky and face having to postpone or cancel that trip of a lifetime. Thank you India, for drawing me to you when you did.
However, with so much worrying news about this global pandemic, I felt it was important to try to write about something more positive, something to give us hope, hope that when this pandemic is under control, we will be able to travel around the world once more.
As we woke up on Day 9 of our trip, it was surreal to be waking up in India at the start of not just a new year, but a new decade.
Our guide, Afsha, had organised for a local Palm Reader, who was an ex mathmatician, to come to our hotel for anyone brave enough. I certainly wasn’t! Palm readers, tarot card readers, and anyone carrying anything that looked remotely like a crystal ball, had always terrified me. I’m not sure why. I guess I’m too scared to hear what my future has in store for me. Or perhaps I’d rather leave it to chance? With so many of my fellow travellers signing up to see him, I had a fairly free day ahead of me. And after the fun of New Years Eve, I was looking forward to a day of wandering around the sreets of Udaipur on my own.
First up, was a trip to City Palace, which was just a short walk from our hotel. At just 300 rupees (£3.20) to get in, Rajasthan’s largest palace is surrounded by beautiful towers and balconies. It also has the most stunning views overlooking the City as well as Lake Pichola.
Construction of the Palace began in 1599, however, it has been extended by various maharanas since.
The main attraction within the Palace, is the museum, which is part of the Palace open to the public.
Whilst the entire city seemed to be queing up to get inside the City Palace Museum, it was lovely to have some time away from the rest of the group, and to mingle with the locals as they enjoyed their bank holiday.
Spending time on my own, trying to remember not only the way to City Palace (following our orientation walk the day before), but also to one of the rooftop cafe’s afterwards, which Afsha has recommended the day before, reminded me of why I like to travel alone.
Not that I didn’t enjoy travelling with the group, I did. But there is something so freeing about travelling alone. I love to do things at my own place, and more than anything, I love pushing those comfort zone barriers.
I also like peace and quiet every now and again, something you don’t always get when your with a group!
Next up, after City Palace, was a lunch stop at the rooftop cafe Afsha had recommended the day before. It wasjust down the road from the Palace, so was easy enough to find. As I sat on the rooftop, overlooking the streets beneath me, it was lovely to soak up the warmth of the Rajasthani sun, watching the locals and the tousists alike going about their business.
However, soon enough, my peace and quiet was broken, as others from the group made their way to the rooftop cafe for a bite to eat too, with tales of their experience with the palm reader.
After lunch, I wanted to spend some time walking around the rest of the city, revisiting places we had seen briefly the day before, but hadn’t had chance to take many photos. Accompanied by Aussie Donna, we headed off back into the bustling city streets, doing a bit of haggling as we walked by the shops towards Lake Pichola.
After a lovely day wandering around Udaipur, it was time to head back to the hotel briefly, before we made our way to Bagore Ki-Haveli, home to the local Cultural Show. Bagore Ki-Haveli is an 18th century haveli which sits directly on the waterfront of Lake Pichola, with 138 rooms, it was built by the Prime Minister of the Royal Mewar Dynasty.
Sadly I don’t have any photos from the Cultural Show. It was unclear at the time as to whether photos were allowed to be taken and if so, how much extra it cost. The show (which kept us entertained for around an hour) is a delightful way to spend an evening enjoying local Rajasthani folk dance and music.
Somehow, at some point during the afternoon, myself and Eric (part of the Chu and Eric, the most adorable Chinese/American couple from our group) found ourselves talking about the palm reader. We were both sceptical (or nervous in my case) about palm reading, however, hearing the stories from the rest of the group had made us curious. Afsha happened to mention that the palm reader would be back at the hotel in the morning, and before I knew it, I had said to Eric, I will if you will…
So with a date with the palm reader booked in for the following morning, it was time to head back to the hotel in order to hit the sack. It would be the last good nights sleep we would get for a couple of nights, as the following day we would be leaving Udaipur and Rajasthan, as we made our way towards our first overnight train of the trip, which would take us to the west coast of India, and the city of Mumbai.