Udaipur – a city of palaces
Old photographs always have a tale to tell. They come with memories ,usually laden with mixed emotions. While cleaning my cupboard,I came across several albums which were filled with pictures taken during various trips. Life was basic and analog then , but the special moments were all Kodak moments . A frame could go wrong,a bit of over exposure or the light could be dim, but the trip is still special.
Of the several albums, I chose my trip to Udaipur. We were tourists then , not travellers and went where the crowds beckoned us . I still remember the day we boarded the mid night Air India flight to Bombay from Madras. We stayed in the airport to pick up the connecting flight to Udaipur. History has always fascinated me as a kid and growing up on Amar Chitra katha stories,one had heard several legends of kings and queens . I had imagined Udaipur as filled with beautiful palaces, where time stood still with dashing Rajout princes brandishing their swords and brave princesses sweeping the men off their feet . But I was wrong
The first thing that struck me was the obscure airport . Next were the loud brash men staring at women like they have never seen them before . And people were cold,unfriendly. Like any naive tourist , we had a chauffer driven car which took us places ..but it was much later that we realized that everything was fixed here . Maybe it was after that we became travellers and not tourists
And yet I wasn’t entirely wrong. Three places that made Udaipur memorable for me are the City Palace , the Jag Mandir and the Lake palace in Lake Pichola .There is also the Fateh Prakash palace , but I think the Lake Palace is surreal, almost a dream . .Floating on the sheer blue waters , its so beautiful that you wish you could live there for just a night . Carved out of marble, it is an island of love, built in 18th century by Maharana Jagat Singh 11 . To me , it’s the ultimate romantic destination surrounded by the pristine lake Pichola and the Aravalli Mountains . The lake itself is enchanting as it changes myriad hues as you ferry down towards Jag Mandir
It was quite breathtaking when we first saw this . Delicately carved out of marble and mosaic and blended with blue stones, this was supposedly a hideout for Prince Khurram , known to us as Shah Jahan by the Rajput king ,Maharana Karan Singh .There was no time to think history then as we allowed the beauty of the place to sink in . The craftsmanship is amazing as you gaze at the elephants who seem to be watching over the palace
And finally the city palace which towers over the Pichola lake . It seemed never ending as we moved from one gate to another , from one hall to another . Endless array of pillars, majestic courtyards, several balconies overlooking the lake, towers , coulourful mirrors and glass , elegant carvings, beautiful doors and windows …it’s a palace where you could lose yourself and go back in time …