Chennai Journal
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Udaipur Part I

Marty and I had a wonderful stay in Udaipur. This will be the first of a couple of posts, since we spent three days there, taking in the sites both in the city itself and we also took a side trip to a fabulous Jain temple and a fort.

From the airport, we were driven by a smartly dressed chauffeur--replete with turban---to a boat dock where we boarded a small power boat that took us across the lake to the welcoming party from the Oberoi Udaivalas.
The Oberoi is one of the luxury hotels of Udaipur, the other being the Taj Lake Palace. Marty and I splurged and stayed there for two nights. The views are magnificent (see several of these up top on Flickr) and the service efficient and mostly not too cloying--usually a problem at these upper class establishments. The food was good---even Marty enjoyed a vegetarian mezze-- with a marinated feta cheese that was so outstanding that we called the chef over to explain---he prepares a marinade of mint, cumin, cilantro, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil, and lets it sit overnight. Other dishes were also good---Marty had a tandoori lamb that was excellent as well.

While at the Oberoi we did an afternoon of sightseeing--to the Monsoon Palace, which was visible from the open hallway in front of our room, and which provides breathtaking views of the city below. We also visited the auto museum which houses the luxury car collection of the maharaja of Udaipur, including the famous Rolls Royce that was used in Octopussy, which was partly filmed here. The collection also includes some old Morrises, several other Rolls Royces---including one with a purdah screen so the Muslim women could ride--and even a Ford Model A.

Another famous sightseeing spot in Udaipur is the city palace, which is the largest palace in Rajasthan and was built beginning in the late 1500s by Maharaja Udai Singh, for whom Udaipur is named. We went up and down narrow stone staircases to view courtyards and gardens, and room after room of gold and silver encrusted artwork, depicting processions of the Maharaja, peacocks, and the three sacred animals of Rajasthan--the elephant for luck, the horse for power, and the camel for love. The architecture is a blend of Mewar--Rajasthani--Mughal, and Chinese.

The Maharaja had several wives, each with their own quarters. One interesting room to me was the queen's guest bedroom, which was used when the queen had sleepovers with her girlfriends.


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