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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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