IMAGINE WAKING UP BY A LAKE DURING SUNRISE. Isn’t it romantic? My sleeper bus took me from Jodhpur to Udaipur in 7 hours. This one-and-a-half decker bus has normal seats with sleeping compartments above them. My bus was full and I was lucky enough to get the first sleeper seat at the front, good for the bone-rattling journey they say. The bed is quite dusty and not as cosy as I wish it would be, but surprisingly, I fell fast asleep.
We arrived in the city of Udaipur at six in the morning, just in time for sunrise. The Lake Picchola turned from dark grey to a vibrant orange as the sun peaks its way above the horizon. The town is quiet and has an artsy feel. Although somewhat touristy, it has cleaner streets and less hectic crowds, reminding me a bit of Dharamsala.
I was greeted by Jai, a fellow Couchsurfing host at his guesthouse. The house was built 400 hundred years ago and is preserved well enough for living. All houses here have rooftops with views of the lake. Even though they are mostly old and desperate for a fresh lick of paint, the old city sends an ancient charm that brings a familiar warmth in your hearts. Jai’s family is also a heart-warming bunch. Pooja, his wife cooks really good ‘pakora’ (vegetable fritters) while her daughter and niece loves to talk and gossip.
Coming from the Brahmin caste and a family of astrologers, Jai’s forefathers were respected advisors to the royal family. According to Pooja, when the royal astrologers are invited to the seating hall, the King rises and never takes his seat before the astrologer takes his. Jai did not inherit the knowledge from his ancestors. He ventured into the tourism industry and has 25 years of front desk managing experience in many big hotels. He and his son plays the sitar and I hope to hear a personal concert during my stay here.
Though touristy and crowded with foreigners, Udaipur is still lazy enough, probably because of its stagnant and quiet Lake Picchola. At night, the water reflects beautiful lights from the Jagmandir and Jagniwas islands, both containing royal palaces that are now converted into luxury hotels. The moon shines brightly above, with a calm reflection on the lake. As romantic Lake Picchola looks at dawn, its mesmerizing view at night wins over all hearts.
The beautiful Lake Picchola lights up at night
Romantic European-style outdoor seats at one of the courtyards of the palace
Rain-washed garden benches in the palace
Brightly colored walls and carpets fromthe insides of the palace