Udaipur Pt. 4 – Last But Not Least…

After a night in Kumbhalgarh, it was time to head back to Udaipur.  Our flight back to Mumbai was at 9pm, giving us about half a day to cross a few more things off of our short Udaipur bucket list and tie up some touristy loose ends.

The first stop was at a self-proclaimed “health food” restaurant on Hanuman Ghat called Millets of Mewar.  As soon as we entered, I could see why this place was a top ten pick on TripAdvisor.  Comfy mattresses covered the first floor, lounge music emanated softly from the speakers and perhaps most importantly, the walls and menu were full of foreigner-friendly buzzwords like “organic”, “fusion”, “local” and “vegan”.  The phrase “gluten-free” also managed to hop on a flight east and find a home here.  This was, I realized, an excellent lesson in Marketing 101.  Other restaurants in touristy Indian cities, take note – you probably qualify for at least half of these distinctions as well.  Use them!

Chairs upstairs or mattresses downstairs. Take your pick!

Chairs upstairs or mattresses downstairs. Take your pick!

Those who know me well will attest that I could eat pan-Asian food all day, every day and so I when I saw a peanut stew with rice on the menu, I ordered it in a heartbeat thinking that it would be inspired by the flavors of Thailand.  Sharnita meanwhile chose to feed her Mexican food addiction by ordering the Indian tacos.  Unfortunately, the peanut stew wasn’t anywhere close to what I imagined it to be and tasted a bit bland for my liking.  Sharnita’s tacos were comparatively a lot better – instead of a corn tortilla, the beans and veggies lay on a thick, crisp khakhra that appealed to the Gujarati in me.  We capped the meal with their famous millet cookie sandwich, which was a tasty combination of Nutella, fruits and jam in between two…you guessed it…millet cookies.

The peanut stew with brown rice.

The peanut stew with brown rice.

The millet cookie sandwich.

The millet cookie sandwich.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After lunch, we headed downstairs and sprawled on the mattresses to catch up on some reading.  I had brought J.G. Ballard’s Empire of the Sun to Udaipur and while I intended to finish it during the trip, I hadn’t even creased the spine to read a single page.  It was time to make some headway.

While at Millets of Mewar, I learned about a couple offbeat tours that I would have liked to take if I had only learned about them earlier or if the weather was better.  The first was a bike tour with Art of Bicycle Trips, which leads a half-day trip to explore Udaipur’s rolling countryside.  The tour covers 30-40 kilometers and costs Rs. 1,950 per person, which includes a group leader, a 21-speed bike and refreshments.  For more information, click here.

The second is an art walk led by Nirmal Prajapat, a zero-waste contemporary artist who introduces visitors to the Mewari arts by taking them to a local artisan community called Neemach Mata.  There you’ll be able to interact with local artists and even try your hand at pottery and miniature painting.  The walk lasts two to three hours and costs Rs. 1,000.  It seems that I may have missed out on at least a couple of opportunities to better immerse myself in Udaipur.  If you’ve taken either of these tours then please let me know in the Comments section below.  I’m curious to know what they’re like!

Leather-bound books are popular souvenirs...

Leather-bound books are popular souvenirs…

...as are coin pouches.

…as are coin pouches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At around 5:30pm, Sharnita and I decided to brave the busy, loud streets to uphold our tradition of finding small keepsakes for one another when we travel.  Remembering the awful experience of our first day, we avoided the area around Jagdish Temple and instead stepped in and out of a number of stores on Lal Ghat until we came across a shop called Nakoda Arts that sold miniature paintings.  The owner of the store, Rajesh Velawat, is himself an artist and showed us some of the paintings that he’s currently working on.  We particularly liked the ones that portray Rajput life and bought a couple for around Rs. 1,200 each.  He mentioned that he also offers painting classes so drop in and ask if you’re interested.

One of our miniature paintings.

One of our miniature paintings.

With miniatures in hand, it was finally time to bid adieu to Udaipur.  We hopped into our waiting cab and began the one hour drive to the airport.  Like on our trip to Ranakpur, Sharnita and I again sat in relative silence as we looked out of our windows.  The Old City gradually disappeared, billboards replaced signs for Octopussy and havelis slowly gave way to empty air-conditioned malls.  In a matter of minutes, the Venice of the East had transformed into just another tier-III Indian city.  At every traffic light, I observed the locals around me and I could tell from their faces that life here is hot, hard and hectic.  More concerned about their livelihood and the future, they seemed oblivious or even apathetic about the grand palaces that bordered Lake Pichola only a few kilometers away.  And who could blame them?  I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of sadness in that taxi – not because I was leaving Udaipur (hell no!) but because Udaipur was yet another example of an Indian city whose most beautiful days are most likely behind it.

What a difference a vowel makes.

What a difference a vowel makes.

This brings an end to my four-part series on Udaipur.  Thanks for reading!  Next week we’ll have a guest post about a night in a Tamil Nadu hill station.  Stay tuned!

Don’t forget to read about other Trabblr members’ experiences in Udaipur or even pen your own by clicking here.

You can follow me on Instagram at hershkumbhani.

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5 thoughts on “Udaipur Pt. 4 – Last But Not Least…

  1. Well maybe my saying this is a exaggeration but all you visited in Udaipur were the sites which Tripadvisor/guides/etc told you to but the real romance is not in these as they are all commercialised centres which have somehow left behind the charm which Udaipur has to offer.

    I dont know whether you saw these things which i am about to list down or not:
    1. Water painting in udaipur https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVuauevCQeI
    2. Gold Miniature art creations
    3. Visit udaipur during the Mewar festival in March/April
    4. Or Visit udaipur during the Shilpgram Festival in November/December
    5. Had Dinner at Jag Mandir/Ambrai
    6. Went to the Karni Mata Temple through a Ropeway designed to get you there
    7. Being force fed at Apni Dhani not in a threatening way but in a manner which doesnt want you to leave unless you are completely content after eating fondly called “Manuhar”

    These are just some of the things. But over and above that your saying that life is hard & people living there are more concerned about their own livelihood above everything else is true for every city you can name.

    The romance of Udaipur come not from the forts & temples but from the way people find time out of their hard lives to Sit at Fatehsagar/Pichola & admire the beauty of nature while discussing their own future plans or from the non interfering attitude of people towards foreigners and sometimes going out of their own way to help them find their way & last but not the least from the traditional Rajasthani culture (which is much more than the art and crafts available in the market & includes the preservation of that art centuries after centuries

    P.S. I hail from Udaipur & absolutely love it & would love to host you next time you plan to visit Udaipur to try and change your opinion.

    • Hi Harsh,

      Thanks a lot for your comment – if only I had known about these suggestions before I left! I just checked out Apni Dhani and it looks right up my alley. I’ve eaten at Ambrai on a previous trip.

      While I agree with some of what you say, I think that there are a few things that can be done to make Udaipur a more pleasant city for immersion and not just observation:

      1. Clean up Lake Pichola! There are dead birds hanging from power lines and there’s green gunk awash on the shores. I would have loved to sit by the lake, feed fish and watch the sunset but there was no way that that was happening.
      2. Create some pedestrian-only zones in the Old City. This would obviously require some planning but would improve the visitor experience by leaps and bounds.

      When it come down to it, tourists come to Udaipur for the forts, palaces and lakes because they can’t be found anywhere else in India. These are true advantages that the city has to maintain if it wants to continue attracting tourist money. Ignoring this would be detrimental.

      I’ll definitely contact you if I’m next in Udaipur – I haven’t completely written it off my books! Cheers.

  2. All four parts were amazing and full of fun to read . I am planning to visit udaipur myself . I downloaded this app Padharo Udaipur , They have many tour option of places u have mentioned . see you soon .. Udaipur!!!

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