Surrounding the shimmering Lake Pichola with purple mountains in the distance, Udaipur is arguably the most beautiful city in Rajasthan. The "City of Lakes" or the "Venice of the East" is an ancient quaint city with temples and palaces at every turn and bustling colorful bazaars. The winding streets of the city center are sprinkled with intricate artwork on nearly every wall. Basically, Udaipur is a romantic white marble paradise.
We took a bus from Pushkar to Udaipur (a looong, exhausting, confusing night) and arrived at Moustache Hostel early in the morning. Luckily, our room was ready early and we were able to get some well-deserved sleep. Since we are blessed with time and traveling slowly, we had a total of seven nights in Udaipur.
There was a nine day Hindu festival called Navratri that began during our stay in Pushkar. Navratri celebrates the Goddess Durga and her nine avatars. Each day is dedicated to a distinct avatar with an attached color to symbolize this. On the last night, a wooden statue representing evil is burnt to symbolize the victory of good over evil. Over the next five days, we found ourselves in multiple parades and celebrations daily. The music was so loud and continued until 4:00 am! We were in awe of the Indian's rich culture, tradition, and dedication to their faith. The day after Navratri, a large Muslim holiday was celebrated in Udaipur. Although each religion has their differences, it was beautiful to see the harmony and respect given to one another.
Other than festival encounters, the first few days were spent wandering the streets, scoping out good food, mingling with travelers from all over the world, participating in a walking tour the hostel hosted, and getting sunburnt at a rooftop pool.
Our French friends, Thom and Mathilde, arrived in Udaipur halfway through our time there. This is the third time we've met up with them -- each time in a different city. We were having trouble getting a hold of one another the day they arrived. After waiting around for a while, Daniel and I decided to get on with our day. We hadn't been out of our hostel for two minutes before we saw them on the street. Turns out, their hotel was wifi-less and filled with mice. Yuck!
The next few days with our friends were filled with henna, enjoying the swimming pool again, a sunset boat tour around Lake Pichola, getting squished and groped inside of City Palace, exploring the Ahar Cenotaphs, trying on sarrees, and laughing until we cried trying to communicate with one another.
Daniel and I went to a cooking class our last night in Udaipur. We enjoy cooking "Indian" food at home, so we thought it would be enriching to learn the real thing. We walked to the home of Hari, the woman hosting, and were instantly welcomed by her entire family and two French men also in our class. It seems that tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, cumin, saffron, and ginger are the staple ingredients used in 90% of the dishes. We learned how to cook masala chai tea, vegetable fritters, malai kofta, palak paneer, bhurtha, garlic naan, and chipati. We ate SO much food and enjoyed the company and hospitality! Our time with Hari was reminiscent of an evening spent with family or good friends. As a bonus, we were sent the recipe book to use in the future.
That ended our time in Udaipur, but I would have happily stayed another month! We are currently in Jodhpur (the Blue City) and headed west to the Thar Desert tomorrow.
Side note: we finally unburied our GoPro from our bag, so be on the lookout for an Udaipur video soon.