Saturday, 10 May 2014

Travelogue - A trip to the royal land of the Ranas - Part 2

I started writing this travelogue quite a while back. You can read Part 1 here. Before the memories fade, let me get on with the remaining parts :)

Day 2 dawned and after a hearty breakfast, we landed outside the office of a travel agency to board the bus to Udaipur. While waiting, we were entertained by a huge herd of cows with big horns having their feed of fodder right on the road. These huge cows are a very common sight on the roads of Ahmadabad. Many times, our car would pass really close to one of these horned biggies and I would shudder with fear. They are there everywhere - on the main roads, side walks - you name it.

They rule the roads!!
The bus arrived after a good half an hour's wait and we filed in with a bunch of school girls and some teachers . The kids created  quite a riot throughout but their excitement was infectious and we couldn't help getting drawn to it. They boisterously demanded for their choice of movies to be played and cheered every time a favorite number came up. In the meanwhile, the scenery outside was fabulous! Lush greenery, mountains and small rivulets accentuated by light rains all the way :) It felt wonderful to watch outside the window and get lost in the mesmerising scenes.

The shiny rain washed roads

Soothing greenery all the way
After about 4.5 hours of a very pleasurable journey, we alighted at Udaipur and headed straight to a famous restaurant that serves authentic thali to have our lunch. I ordered a Gujarati while the husband ordered Rajasthani.

The bountiful and delicious thali
After a sumptuous lunch, we headed to our place of stay - The Taj Lake Palace. The hotel is located in the middle of Lake Pichola and was the summer palace used by the erstwhile royal family. It is now maintained as a luxury hotel by the Taj Group.
This part of the trip was supposed to be a surprise planned for my birthday and my husband kept me guessing saying we were going to an island. But it broke when trip advisor played spoil sport by flashing a pop up in front of my eyes a few days before the trip. He was sourly disappointed, having spent hours and hours planning things without my knowledge. I was even more disappointed seeing that I had defeated his efforts :(
However, we got over it in a day and were now eagerly looking forward to a day to be spent living like royalty. We alighted just outside the jetty and entered to catch the first beautiful sight of the Lake Palace standing regally amidst the waters.

View of the Lake Palace from the shore


The ornate boat jetty at Lake Pichola 

A short pleasant boat ride took us to the entrance of the palace. It felt magical to step into the regal structure standing right in the middle of the lake. We were welcomed with a shower of flowers and a royal umbrella held for us as we alighted :) 'To us, you are king and queen' they said and we sure were beginning to feel like one :)

The boat we took to travel between the hotel and the lake shore

After the check in formalities, we were shown around the various facilities inside. We slowly started taking in the beauty and grandeur of our surroundings.

The reception area of the Taj
The palace room where we had opted to stay had a beautiful view of the lake around and the city palace situated across. The decor was very ornate and ethnic as befits a palace.

The Palace room
After some rest, we headed to the swimming pool. It turned out to be one of the most ethinic looking pool areas I have ever seen!

The Swimming pool lit up for the night
The husband went swimming while I sat on one of the walls and was content staring at the placid blue lake surrounded by heritage palaces and mountains. And I was completely transported to a different world.

The pool deck overlooked these serene surroundings .. 

.. and these regal heritage buildings
In the evening, a heritage walk around the palace had been organised. If you visit this place, do not miss the heritage walk. A guide and a group of us started out from the palace entrance and were taken around each and every section of the palace with a briefing of what each area had been used for, when it was in use by the royal family. The Taj has taken great pains to preserve the palace in look and usage.
The Lily Pond located at the center of the lake palace - this was the place set aside for the royal ladies to play holi 

A walkway inside the hotel - the king seen in the portrait is apparently responsible for the near extinction of leopards in the surrounding areas - thanks to his reckless hunting

A terrace inside the palace that opens out to the lake's panorama
After this very interesting tour, we were all given refreshments. A dance performance of a local art form was organised for the evening. It was a fabulous show of grace and balance.

One of the many astounding balancing acts that the performer did.
We spent the remainder of the evening roaming about the palace and watching all the breathtakingly beautiful views it offered from various vantage points. Post dinner, we called it a day after really feeling like king and queen for a whole day :)

6 comments:

  1. The palace/hotel looks SO beautiful! No wonder you felt like royalty. :) I would love to plan a trip here myself. :)

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    1. Do visit ! It is beautiful beyond words :)

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  2. The hotel looks like some grand palace. Also, loved the swimming pool. Beautiful pics :-)

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    1. Thanks Ashwini ! Welcome to this space :)
      Yes, it is an erstwhile palace converted into a hotel.

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  3. Wow..such a grand place to stay in and how sweet of your husband to plan such a sweet surprise for your birthday! The pics are awesome and so is the travelogue.

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    1. Thanks Uma :) Yes it was really nice of him to have done it. Even while we were at the trip, I started worrying about what on earth I was going to do for his bday after all this :(

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