Day 2: Soaking the Sights of Udaipur
There are many things to see and do in Udaipur. It’s always best to plan ahead and see only what’s truly possible in the number of days you choose to spend here. On our second day, we decided to slow down our pace, all that climbing can take a toll on your legs. After breakfast, we took a rickshaw to Gulabh Bagh. Upon entering the gates, a canopy of trees welcomes you. There are many small gardens in which you can choose to spend time in or hide from the sun. The zoo is located much deeper inside the gardens. The ticket was surprisingly cheap which explained the sorry state of most of the animals in the zoo. A lone tiger was injured and roaring in pain. To add to her misery, a group of adolescents teased her repeatedly. We tried to dissuade them and ended up in a petty skirmish of words. Not to let that incident mar our day, we continued towards the other sections. There were many birds (sadly caged), deer and peacocks. It’s best to avoid the zoo, especially when you can see the same wildlife (un-caged) in many sanctuaries across Rajasthan. Hopefully, someday the management will maintain it better or shut it down completely. It was fast approaching noon and we decided to try a typical Rajasthani Thali (something you must try in Rajasthan) for lunch. On the way, we stopped at Shikarbadi to catch a glimpse of grazing deer. However, the deer don’t come before evening and we didn’t want to spend time waiting. Besides, Shikarbadi is an upscale lodging facility and might be apt for those who like to splurge in the niceties of life, when on holiday. So we hopped on a rick and headed to hotel Natraj. After a wholesome meal, we proceeded to Lake Pichola. There are many places along the banks from which you can opt for a boat ride. We had to wait for roughly half an hour for the previous boat to return. An elderly expat had chosen a quite spot in the shade to capture the lake in water colour. Finally, our boat arrived. Our boat-man wasn’t a man of many words and got quite agitated when we asked him questions of the many structures in the lake. Incidents like these make you realize the flipsides of a thriving tourism industry. There were many more similar incidents we would experience in the coming days. After the boat ride, there wasn’t much we could do, so we settled for a quite coffee and called it a day.
Day 3: Udaipur- Ranakpur – Jodhpur
The next day we set out for Jaisalmer. Mr. Sharma arranged for a rather, dubious looking cabbie for our trip. Jaisalmer is 487 km or 8 hrs from Udaipur. You can alternatively choose to take a train between the two cities. However, road trips are the best way to explore the rustic countryside. En-route, we decided to stop at a Jain Temple in Ranakpur. Built in marble, the temple attracts tourists and pilgrims alike. Like most temples, the walls of the temple are adorned by intricate carvings. Once in the temple, you are shielded from the sharp rays of the afternoon sun and there is a general sense of calm. A young boy, probably a temple helper, explained the importance of the different forms on the temple walls and ceiling to interested travelers. Unfortunately, it was hard to tail him through the temple and after a while we gave him a miss. In another area, a priest distributed prasad to pilgrims. There is a rather incredible legend associated with this temple. Near the entrance of the temple, roughly on the second step of the flight of stairs, a believer can wish for a special boon. It is believed that wishes come true here. We tried our luck too. The temple premises has a large dining hall for visitors and pilgrims to have meals. At a nominal fee of 25 INR you can get a complete vegetarian meal. It was time to continue our journey to Jaislamer. Not very far from the temple, a group of langoors tried to befriend us. These monkeys are probably fed by travelers and that’s why tend to jump at your car window. After Ranakpur, we had a long journey to cover to Jaisalmer. We reached Jodhpur by late evening and Mehrangunj Fort was shut for the day. We did manage to see a panoramic view of the city. Since we had lost a lot of time and didn’t want to test the pot-holed roads with the driver (somewhere during the journey we realized he had a bad leg injury), we found a ‘decent’ family lodge in Jodhpur. Never before, had we been so happy to hear children shout and scream. The children made us more secure of our choice of rest. Jodhpur seemed like a developing city with pockets of infrastructure. After being followed and ogled at, by two bikers; it made good sense to call it a night. 1000 INR for a good night’s sleep was definitely worth it.