Udaipur, city of lakes and palaces. Days 5 & 6

8 11 2009

Continuing on from Kumbalgarh, it was about 80km into the town of Udaipur. Udaipur, the royal city of lakes and palaces is justifiably famous. Why?

Udaipur's City Palace

The city is built on and around Lake Pichola and contains a vast number of royal palaces. If you can remember the James Bond movie, Octopussy, you will remember part of this city. Much of it was filmed in the Lake Palace (now a hotel) and in the Monsoon Palace. While we didn’t get time to visit the Monsoon Palace, we could see it on top of a mountain just out of town.

Lake Palace and Monsoon Palace

When we arrived into Udaipur it was a challenge to get to our hotel. We were stuck in traffic for quite a while and only once we got close to our hotel did we find out that a large tree had fallen, taken out a wall and brought the power lines down, right out the front of our hotel. This also meant no electricity for a few hours. It’s India, no big deal.

We initially went out to see some traditional Rajasthani dances. A short(ish) performance showcasing a range of different dances. Quite interesting.

Rajasthani Folk Dance

Rajasthani Folk Dance

The next morning we headed over to quite possibly one of the most amazing palaces in India, the City Palace of Udaipur. This is the largest royal palace in Rajashtan and stunningly beautiful.

City Palace of Udaipur

Entering through the gateway in the street we came into a large courtyard, still with parking spots for elephants, now used by cars.

Udiapur Palace Gateway

Udaipur City Palace

Golden Face

Like most such places it has been partly turned into a museum. The guard was rather proud of his moustache and happily posed for photos.

Mr Moustache

More pics from within the City Palace

Indian God's

Screened Tower

Need a Hand?

The next day we ventured out onto the lake for a cruise. The centrepiece of Udaipur, it gives great views of all the famous sights as well as superb photo-ops.

Lake Pichola Panorama

Gnats on Lake Pichola

Udaipur City Reflections

Our boat dropped us at one of the floating hotels, so we could wander, take pics and pay exorbitant prices for drinks. The option was there for dinner but not at those prices.

Smoking Elephant

Cats Royal Box

Reflections of a Lake Palace

Sunset came quickly with us still on the lake.

Lake Palace Sunset

Sunset over Lake Pichola





Hill Forts at Kumbalgarh, Day 5 begins

23 10 2009

Oh India, why must you be such a contrasting place? You have both the best and the worst of travel. Really you do.

Located 80km North of Udaipur is the formidable hilltop fort of Kumbalgarh. Built during the 15th century by Rana Kumbha, this fort has some of the most impressive fortifications I’ve ever seen. Its huge walls stretch 36km and are still intact. Supposedly this makes them the 2nd longest continuous walls in the world, after China’s Great Wall.

Kumbalgarh Mountaintop Fort

These walls meant that during its entire history, the fort was only defeated once, by the Emperor Akbar, and that was aided by the poisoning of the water supply. Put simply, this is one of the most secure forts around.

Defenses of Kumbalgarh

Kumbalgarh Defenses

Kumbalgarh Defenses

We were in for a bit of a surprise when we arrived, as there was a French film crew filming part of a travel documentary, using a pair of old American mustangs to travel to various forts and around India. More impressive was their use of a camera mounted on a remote control helicopter. A toy that looked very difficult to use, but loads of fun.

Filming at Kumbalgarh

The fort itself used to have a temple at the top of the hill. Unfortunately now the temple is just a bare shell

Kumbalgarh Fort

We spent a good few hours exploring the remains of the old fort and temple complex. Unfortunately much of it is ruins now, but still it remains highly impressive.

Within the vast 36km walls are other settlements and temples. Obviously at 36km long we couldn’t walk the whole walls, in fact we barely had time to do a few hundred meters. There was plenty to be seen in and around the main area. Numerous temples are right there, mostly allowing entry.

Temple at Kumbalgarh

One of my favourite views was through the main entrance/exit doorway of the final set of defences, the entry into the main fort. It opens out and shows the vastness of Rajasthan and the defences of the fort.

Grand Exit

And of course, how could I forget the monkeys? These cheeky buggers were hanging around the entrance, where the restaurants were. They obviously want nothing better than to steal food from tourists.

Monkey at the Fort

After the fort, we endured the next few hour onwards and into Udaipur, our home of the next few days, and the goal of the next post.