The last stop of the Rajasthan part of the trip after Jodhpur and Jaipur was Udaipur, known as the City of Lakes.
An artificial lake which is perfect for boating trips and taking in the mesmerising scenery across Udaipur, Lake Pichola is well worth a visit. Lake Pichola also contains palaces, museums, temples and restaurants if you tire of checking out the stunning waters, (which you won’t obvs). The boating trip starts from Rameshwar Ghat and takes visitors to island Jagmandir where tourists can explore and feel like royalty. Check those quarters out!
Checking out Jagmandir made me feel like I was a queen checking into my luxury retreat without a care in the world. Butlins, take note. The attraction has been converted into a small hotel with just seven hotel rooms but also a restaurant, bar and spa which is pefect if you’re craving a luxury holiday away from the perils of society in your own little island.
Another magnificent palace? India is truly spoiling us. City Palace is also the largest palace in Rajesthan. The palace exhibits a blend of Rajasthani, Mughal, Chinese and European culture. Take a look at the beautifully designed women’s quarters Zenana Mahal which has been converted to a museum, perfect for curious people like me who want to gawp at what would have been my home if I’d been a rich Rajesthani Princess.
Jagdish Temple was a beautiful mandir situated outside the royal palace. I loved seeing the beautiful temples in India which were a world away from the ones in my hometown. The temple is mainly devoted to Lord Vishnu, the Hindu God who is the preserver of the Universe.
My next stop after Jaipur was of course, Jodhpur, likened to the being the ‘blue’ city in contrast to Jaipur’s pink paradise. Full of beautiful scenery, more magnificent architecture and colours, I was excited to see it.
The main stop on my Jodhpur Jaunt was architectural beauty, Mehrangr Fort. The fort is 410 feet above the city and boasts terrific views. It also contains a road leading to the city which is great if you want to do your exploring on foot.The fort divides up several palaces which are a must-see such as Moti Mahal, Phool Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Zenana Dude, Takht Vilas, Jhanki Mahal.There are also two temples. From paintings to palanquins, Mehrangr Fort is showcases the wonderful scenery of Northwestern India as well as a majestic palace. The fort and museum also contains pieces of heritage art includng costumes, carvings and decoarations.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see as much in Jodhpur due to time constraints, but on my next visit I will journey to sights such as Bal Samand Lake, Mandore Garden, Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park and Kaylana Lake.
I must apologise for the backlog of India posts that I haven’t uploaded but quarantine has given me the chance to finally update these and post it!
Known historically as ‘The Pink City’, Jaipur exceeds expectations to become a terracotta paradise. But why is it called ‘The Pink City?’. The Maharaja of Jaipur sought to impress Prince Albert during his trip to India in 1876. This included building lavish buildings and gardens as well as repainting the city pink in order to create an atmosphere of hospitality. To this day, the pink colour scheme remains.
My exploration started with arriving at the Pearl Palace guesthouse which blew my mind. A heritage hotel, it combines traditional indian architecture and art for a truly authentic experience.
My first stop was the Amer Fort. Mughal architecture, lavish marble walls and an opulent courtyard, I couldn’t wait to get a slice of Rajesthan history. It also contains Sheesh Mahal, an ornate display of mirrors. I was in awe of how beautiful the fort was and the courtyard gardens were nothing to sneeze at either. The stunning backdrop was a pretty picture of Indian countryside.
Usually, when I want to build something beautiful I stick to decorating my Christmas tree but it looks like palaces have always been in style as India is full of them! Mosaic patterned walls, sculptured mirrors, no wonder so many people flock to see this important piece of Jaipur’s history. The palace is divided into four different levels with different attractions such as the Diwan-i-aam (Hall of Public Audience), the Diwan-i-kaas (Hall of Private Audience), Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors) and the Sukh Niwas where winds blow over waterfalls to create a cool climate.
There is also two light shows every evening. One is in Hindi which starts at 8 and the English one is at 7.30. There are also puppet shows and a classical dance program which can be located in Sukh Mahal.
If you want to go shopping for gifts/specialty items and traditional wear then look no further than Bapu Bazaar. Famed for being the place to sharpen tourists’ bargaining skills, Bapu Bazar is a delight with a plethora of items which appeals to all sorts of people. I picked up some colourful trousers which unfortunately reminds me of this meme*:
*Substitute for India.
But I didn’t care because they were pretty and cheap! I also took the time to stock up on Lehengas as it had been way too long since I’d bought new ones. Colourful Bangarees and jewellery were also selling fast and I took this opportunity to pick up some.
Authentic Rajasthani culture? Cultural performances? Great food? The Chocki Dhani village enticed us because it was a chance to see a glimpse of the ‘real’ India and satisfy my urge to delve into my roots. Chocki Dhani is an ethnic resort and model village attracts both tourists and locals, not only for their promising attractions but also the culinary experience with an extravagant open air buffet restaurant.
Walking inside after paying the entrance fee, I was lost on what to check out first. I opted for a puppet show where a man was using a wooden control bar and string to move a few cute doll figurines who were decked out in traditional Indian wear including little minature cloth saris.
In the village there were different performances going on. We stopped to check out two Indian girls in gagra cholis (traditional skirt and top with intricate designs and colours) who were dancing energetically. A man was providing the background music by using a tabla (classical drums). There was so much spirit and passion I stopped to watch.
There were other dance performances going on. One in particular was enjoyable because one of the girls tried to coax audience members into showing off their moves too! Eventually, one woman did come up and dance proving that positive energy is contagious.
Another performance which I coudn’t tear my eyes from showed a young woman dancing on glass!
There was lots to do and see at Chocki Dhani. From the unconventional art of palm reading to a merry-go-round to games for kids. After seeing the many attractions, we settled down to eat at the candlelit buffet dinner. There was so much to choose from. You could have Rajasthani cuisine or more Western cuisine as there was a pasta bar. My favourite was the pani puri which came served with different chutneys and dips that I had about 13. No regrets!
Overall, my experience visiting Chocki Dhani was amazing and I loved that so much Indian culture was showcased here.
For the ultimate cinematic experience, I strongly recommend a visit to the grand Raj Mandir, a luxurious cinema in Jaipur. With two staircases and a magnificent foyer. Odeon, take some notes. It is worth noting the cinema exclusively shows movies in Hindi without subtitles. I am not fluent in Hindi but can understand it to an extent, (before anyone calls me a coconut, my mother tongue is Gujarati) so I was looking forward to testing my language skills.
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