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Old 30th April 2015, 22:09   #1
Join Date: Mar 2015
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Default Mumbai to Udaipur & around - In the land of the Maharana


[Warriors like Rana Pratap are born only once. We salute you for being the pride of the Rajputs]

This is my first travelogue on T-BHP. Since the last two years, I have been following the travelogue section of T-BHP religiously. Now it seems that I need to give back something to this great forum. So here goes..

2015 seems to be a year of many a long weekends. 2nd to 5th April, 2015 (Thursday – Sunday) was one of these. So my wife and I started making plans for a weekend getaway. Now both of us are from Udaipur, but stay in Mumbai. After a lot of deliberation we fixed our destination – Udaipur!! The logic being that this time let’s explore Udaipur as the tourists do and not as residents. Now it may be surprising, but often we don’t explore the cities where we belong to. Udaipur is also always rated highly as a tourist destination and is known by a lot of different names – “Venice of the East”, “Lake City” etc. So we thought let’s see what the fuss is about. :-p

So by the third week of March it was decided that we will go to Udaipur, Kumbalgarh and Ranakpur. This time Udaipur will be explored in depth. I also invited my friend and his wife to join us for the trip and they agreed readily. So it was decided that our trip will be as follows:

**1st April, 2015 – leave from Mumbai in the morning – reach Udaipur late evening
**2nd April, 2015 – Local Udaipur sightseeing
**3rd April, 2015 – Ranakpur Jain Temple and Kumbalgarh Fort
**4th April 2015 - Local Udaipur sightseeing
**5th April, 2015 – leave for Mumbai in the morning and reach late evening.

I had sold my two year old Swift Dzire Vxi in the month of March, 2015. Simultaneously, I had also booked a Toyota Etios VX which the dealer had promised to deliver in the last week of March, 2015. However, it turns out the Classic Grey colour which we wanted was not available immediately with the dealer and he informed me that there will be some delay in procuring the car and he will be able to deliver only by 10th April or so (finally delivered on 13th April, 2015).

I was devastated on hearing this and all visions of driving my new car on the inviting roads of Gujarat and Rajasthan in my head went off with a “Poof” was sulking for the rest of the day. In the evening my wife asked me why was I sad. I told her that we may have to defer our plans since the car will not be available. Thought about it a bit and decided to go ahead with our plan but needed a different mode of transport. Informed my friends about the same and they said they were OK with any alternate way of reaching. So first we looked up trains but there was a long waiting list. Did not want to take a chance with tatkal booking. My wife has traveled a couple of times to Udaipur by air conditioned sleeper coaches which run during the night. Made some inquiries and selected Shrinath Travels. Booked four tickets for their overnight sleeper bus service to Udaipur. It starts from their Andheri East office (near Vishal Hall) at 5.30pm and reaches Udaipur at 8.30 am the following day.

So the final plan after all the roller coaster planning was modified as follows:

**1st April, 2015 – leave for Udaipur by the evening bus
**2nd, 3rd and 4th April as decided earlier
**5th April, 2015 – return by evening bus service to Mumbai
**6th April, 2015 – reach early morning and run to office!

1st APRIL, 2015:

The day of our trip was here. Since our bus was in the evening, I attended office for half a day. Reached home at 3 pm and quickly finished packing (I usually pack very quickly and always boast of this to my wife who is a meticulous planner and packer. She always has the last laugh though since I always end up forgetting a few things.). My mother packed dinner for us and my wife also packed some sandwiches and snacks for the trip. Left home at about 4.45pm for catching the bus. My friends were to meet us directly at the bus stand. The bus was already there when we reached. It was a sleeper coach with a 2 x 1 configuration with a lower and upper deck. We had booked two double sleepers.

Our Bus to Udaipur - Shrinath Travels - A/c 2 x 1 sleeper - quite comfortable mainly due to good roads in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Most importantly reaches on time!
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At 5.45pm the bus started from Andheri East and took the NH-8 to Udaipur. Given the evening time it crawled in the traffic and was finally able to reach Borivali in one hour. Had a brief stop opposite the National Park for picking up more passengers. Finally around 7.15 it left from Borivali. Getting out of Mumbai took its own sweet time and was finally able to do so by 8.15 pm. Meanwhile in the bus the four of us were in good spirits. Played some cards and polished off the sandwiches. At about 9.15 the bus stopped near Manor for dinner. It was a half hour halt at an okayish dhaba on the highway (don’t remember the name, but nothing to remember about). Since we were already carrying our dinner, just ordered some butter milk and curd from the dhaba. Finally around 10 the bus was off for its long haul through the night. We finally slept around 11.30pm. The NH 8 was excellent with butter smooth roads and the bus was easily maintaining 80-90km/h.

2nd APRIL, 2015:

Woke up around 6 am. By this time the bus had already crossed Ahmedabad. It stopped for morning tea at Shrinath Hotel somewhere near Shamlaji on the highway itself.

Morning Tea - Whether glass half full or half empty???
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Somewhere on the way before Udaipur, the bus stopped for diesel. Had a look at the pump attendant and was shocked. I could have sworn he was Novak Djockovich!!!!! See the pics below and decide for yourself…

What Novak does when he is not playing.
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Finally the bus reached Udaipur at 9.15. Father in law came to pick us up from the bus stand. Reached my wife’s home, met everyone and had an excellent brunch [Thank you M.I.L!]. Finally, by 12 we were ready to start exploring Udaipur. My FIL lent us his Wagon R for our use for the next 3 days. Filled her up and we were off.

Before the trip, my wife and I had worked up a rough list of places which we would be visiting in the city. Since we had 2 days in Udaipur we decided that it was better if we had a plan in place so as to not waste time once we are there.

We started from my wife’s house by 12.15. The first place on our agenda was the City Palace. On the way we saw the Vintage Car Museum and decided to see it first. We bought the entry tickets for the museum – Rs 250 per head! “Wow!” I thought, it better be worth it. Some background about the Vintage Car Museum:

“The Vintage & Classic Car Collection is a car collection and a museum with a difference. All the vehicles on show have belonged to the Maharanas of Mewar both past and present. Despite some vehicles being over seventy years old, each one has been painstakingly restored so that they are in working order.

The collection is housed in the original former Mewar State Motor Garage, a glorious setting for such a fine assortment of vehicles. The bougainvillea - coated Garden Hotel and Restaurant, a property of HRH Group of Hotels, Udaipur, is also contained within the garage’s grounds. The semi-circular motor garage with its forecourt is housed within a greater courtyard, creating a pleasant hideaway from the bustle of the streets. One of the original Shell petrol pump is not only still standing, but also in a usable condition. The motor garage itself was built at a time when the only cars in town belonged to the Mewar State Motor Garage and the present day surroundings make this garage as wonderfully stylish as it must always have been.”
[Source: www.eternalmewar.in]

Most of the cars here are maintained in excellent condition and are working. However, given the number of cars and the overall size and things to do here, the ticket price of Rs 250 per head was not justified. Maybe if they allow you to drive these beauties it would be a different case..

So the following cars were displayed:
a. 1946 Buick
b. 1938 / 39 Cadillacs
c. 1930 Ford – the main attraction
d. MG TC 1946
e. 1959 Morris Minor 1000
f. 1924 Rolls Royce
g. 1934 Rolls Royce Phantom II
h. Vauxhall 12

We also saw a couple of Ford 4 wheel drive jeeps and a couple of Chevrolet School buses with a wooden body. There were also a couple of horse drawn buggies used by the royal family.

We spent about 45 minutes at the museum. It’s a good place, however not worth the ticket price.

Some Pics of the Vintage Car Museum:

1930 Ford
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The Rolls Royce Insignia on the Phantom II
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Royal Buggies
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Ford 4 x 4
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From here we moved to the City Palace. The City Palace of Udaipur is one of the most beautiful and well maintained palaces in India. The drive to the main gates is through the narrow streets of the old city, but once you see the palace for the first time the grandeur and the beauty hits you instantly.

The palace is divided into three parts – the first part is the royal family residence – Shambhu Niwas, the second part consists of two hotels – Shiv Niwas Palace and Fateh Prakash Palace and the third part is the museum which is open to the general public. Since we were in April, the summer had already started and temperatures were in the late thirties and hence there were not too many people around. Some background on the City Palace:

"More than four centuries ago, in A.D. 1559, Rana Udai Singh II the father of Rana Pratap, laid the Foundation of the City Palace after the birth of his grandson Amar Singh I and on the advice of a Hermit Goswami Prem Giriji Maharaj, who had a small hut on this hill. The enormous complex of the old palace standing on a low ridge called Rana Magri (Rana’s Hill) overlooking lake Pichola on the west is a tribute to the constructive genius and architectural taste of the Maharana's of Mewar, ranging from Rana Udai Singh II to the present 76th Custodian of House of Mewar, Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar.
It has been so planned and integrated with the original building that the entire structure assumes a shape of one edifice from the exterior, with canopies, towers, domes, cupolas, bastions, beautifully carved balconies and ornamental turrets.

The City Palace built by Rana Udai Singh II has been added to and extended by the successive generations of Maharanas, notably by Rana Karan Singh, and Rana Sangram Singh II. Maharana Sajjan Singh and Maharana Fateh Singh further expanded the palace in the 19th century.

The building is a unique depiction of the architectural and artistic evolution of Mewar through centuries. The City Palace has always been a self-sufficient developing centre within itself and shall continue to grow into an ideal prototype of a living palace complex.

The City Palace Museum, Udaipur was set up in 1969 by Maharana Bhagwat Singh ji to safeguard and preserve the cultural heritage and the time honoured traditions of the people of Mewar."

[Source: www.eternalmewar.in]

We hired a guide [Rs. 200 for 1.5 hrs] for taking us around the palace. This was more for the benefit of my friends since my wife and I had been to the palace earlier. He showed us a number of interesting things around the palace and also the history behind the place. We covered a number of places within the complex. Some of the places worth mentioning are:

a. Badi Mahal: It is the central garden courtyard of the palace. It has a swimming pool where the royals play Holi. There were trees growing around the courtyard even though we were about 8-10 stories high from the ground. The guide explained to us that this palace is built on a hill and hence these trees were always there before the palace was made. The construction was done without removing these trees and hence they look now as if growing from the stone floor of the palace (spoiler alert for anyone who has not visited the palace yet)

b. Chini Chitrashala: where you can see Chinese and Dutch ornamental tiles.

c. Surya Chopar: Where a large emblem of the sun (Surya) adorns the wall. It was customary for the Maharanas to worship the sun every morning before breakfast. This emblem was used for worship in case the sun was covered by clouds (say during monsoons).

d. Mor Chowk: Houses 3 glass jewelled peacocks. These were crafted with 5000 pieces of coloured glass. Very beautiful indeed.

e. Zenana Mahal: the ladies chamber which has beautiful jaali work. From here the ladies could watch the processions since they were not allowed to join in these.

f. Sheesh Mahal: Palace of mirrors with a beautiful glass dome.

g. Weapons museums: Where Maharana Pratap’s actual weapons and armour (25kg!)

h. We were also told the story of Chetak, Maharana Pratap’s loyal horse. It is said that the injured Chetak carried the Maharana (also injured in the battle) away from the battle at Haldi Ghati. After taking the Maharana to safety, Chetak died from his wounds. There is a memorial at Haldi Ghati for Chetak at the place where he died. Also Chetak Circle in Udaipur is named after him.

Will let the pictures do the talking now:

The City Palace Complex
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The Taj Lake Palace seen from the City Palace
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The City Palace seen from Pichola Lake
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The City Palace and the Lake Palace from Pichola Lake
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One of the 3 Glass Peacocks at the Mor Chowk in the City Palace
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Around 4 pm we finished our tour of the City Palace. Our guide left us back at the main gate with a Namaste (which he said actually meant “No More Stay”).

Our next destination for the day was the Monsoon Palace – Sajjangarh. This is the favourite place of my wife and me in Udaipur. It is arguably the best place in Udaipur to see the sunset from. It also offers excellent 360 degrees view of the city.

The palace is built on a hill and is surrounded by the Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary. The winding road to Sajjangarh snakes through the jungle. Cars can be driven right to the top. However, the Wagon R did have some trouble climbing up the road, especially at the hair-pin bends towards the top and had to downshift to the 1st gear a number of times. However, this was not surprising since there were four of us in the car. However, we drove up slowly enjoying the cool breeze and the quietness of the jungle. Also again being summer there were not too many people at the top.

Once we reached the top, we parked the car. There were only 3-4 more cars present there. It was around 4.45pm when we reached there and the sun was still beating down. Hence we decided to sit at the café for a while and wait for evening to set in to finally walk up to the main palace. Had some soft drinks at the café and enjoyed the sight of a few langurs and a solitary dog enjoying themselves in the water sprinklers of the lawns there. Seems like the dog was good friends with this bunch of monkeys. For a moment we felt like joining the monkeys enjoying the sprinklers in the hot sun.

At about 5.30 we started to explore the palace. Now the palace itself is nothing great and is not very big. It is all about the location and the views of the city below. The palace is 2 stories high. However, as per the original plan, it was supposed to be nine stories high. However, it was not completed. The best parts of the palace are the balconies located on the first and second floors. It is to be noted that the place is extremely windy. The winds are strong and sometimes keeping balance is not easy, especially in the balconies. We explored the palace further for some time and by 6.45 the sun had started its descent into the Aravallis. We took up a strategic place on the main terrace and set up the camera and the tripod. Finally got to see the beautiful sunset and clicked a number of photos. After the sunset we spent some more time on the terrace enjoying the views (now with the lights coming up) and the winds. Finally around 7.45 we were the only ones left.

Some Pics from the Sajjangarh Palace:

Sajjangarh - The Monsoon Palace
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The views from the Palace
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Views of the City:
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View from the Balcony
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Capturing the sunset through the balcony
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Just before the sun disappears
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Dried tree silhouette
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By now we were very hungry since we had not eaten after the brunch at home. We decided to have dinner at Ambrai restaurant. This open air restaurant is located in Hotel Amet Haveli near Chand Pole. It is on the banks of Pichola lake opposite the City Palace. It offers excellent views of the City Palace, Ghanghor Ghat, Lake Palace and Jag Mandir.

The road leading to the restaurant is extremely narrow. Even two small hatch backs cannot cross each other side by side. My friend had to get down a number of times to stop the traffic coming from the opposite side. I myself had to reverse a few times to let the oncoming traffic pass. After a frustrating 30 minutes through this narrow approach road we managed to reach the restaurant. Parked the car and went in to find a table. We were awestruck by the views offered by the restaurant. The City Palace and the Taj Lake Palace were lit for the evening looked very beautiful. However, we were told that there was no table free for the evening and a prior reservation was required for dinner here. We were all highly disappointed to miss out here.

By now we all were very hungry and also the frustration of the narrow approach roads earlier made us a little cranky. By now it was 9.30 and we were running out of options of dinner since places in Udaipur start shutting down by 9.30. However, my wife said that we could go to Fateh Sagar for some street food. We all agreed and left for Fateh Sagar. While leaving from Ambrai we noticed a small lane outside the hotel through which a lot of people were coming and going. Inquired about the same and were informed that this small lane leads to Manjhi Ghat. From here one can enjoy the same views are Ambrai. Made a mental note to include this place in our sightseeing on day 3, since today we all were very hungry and did not want to defer dinner any further.

We reached Fateh Sagar around 10.30 and were surprised to see it quite crowded at that time. A lot of youngster were there zipping around in their cars and bikes on the road around the lake. Selected a decent looking place at the food plaza (called Chowpatty, I believe). Food was not bad but service was quite slow.

Finally reached home around 11.30pm and we all were extremely tired. All in all it was a satisfying first day. Fell asleep almost immediately. Tomorrow was the excursion to Ranakpur and Kumbalgarh.

**END OF DAY 1**
Day 2 contd...

Last edited by ashver9133 : 1st May 2015 at 13:23. Reason: Updating the incomplete travelogue
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Old 1st May 2015, 15:34   #2
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Default re: Mumbai to Udaipur & around - In the land of the Maharana

Day 2: 3RD APRIL, 2015:

Today was the day for some driving. Today was the much anticipated excursion to Ranakpur Jain Temples and the Kumbalgarh Fort. Woke up by 6 am. We had planned to leave Udaipur by 10 am.

As we were all up, we decided to go to Fateh Sagar Lake for some morning walk. So drove down to the Fateh Sagar ki Pal. One portion of the road which runs along the lake is cordoned off by the police with barriers. This is used by people for their morning walk. We reached there around 7am and there were a lot of people of all ages enjoying the cool morning by the lake side. We also took some leisurely strolls along the walkways made by the lake. There were many people swimming in the lake. It was very tempting but we were not carrying any change of clothes and decided against it. The calm waters of the lake along with the cool morning breeze were extremely relaxing. My friend and I are bird enthusiasts and we decided to do some bird watching. We spotted a number of birds in the next half an hour. Some of these included – Grey Hornbills, Common Kingfisher, Spotted doves. Some water birds such as egrets and cormorants were also there.

A small note for any bird enthusiasts in the forum – Udaipur is a paradise for bird watchers. There are a number of bird species which we spotted. The highlight of the trip included spotting of two Egyptian Vultures. These birds are endangered and not easily seen. We saw a couple of these during our visit to Sajjangarh Fort. Visitors can also head to Jaisamand Lake which is located about an hour’s drive from Udaipur towards Banswara (we could not go due to paucity of time). This lake is Asia’s second largest man-made lake. There are islands in the lake which provide sanctuary to a large number of migratory birds.

Fateh Sagar Lake under one of the many chattris:
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Fateh Sagar Lake - the Solar Observatory is located in the middle of the lake. One can also see Sajjangarh on the hill in the background:
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So after spending some more at the lake we finally headed back home since we had to start for Ranakpur by 10am. Our plan for the day was as follows:

**10am – Start for Ranakpur (approximately 90 kms)
**12pm – Reach Ranakpur, spend 1 - 2 hour in sightseeing and 1 hour for lunch
**3.30pm – Start for Kumbalgarh fort (approximately 50km)
**5pm – Reach Kumbalgarh, 1 hour for sight seeing and sunset views
**7-8 pm – Light and Sound Show
**8.30 pm – Leave for Udaipur (approximately 100 km)
**11pm – Home

We were finally able to leave home by 10.30 am from Udaipur. My wife’s brother also accompanied us for the trip. That made us 5 in the Wagon R. On the way we enjoyed eating “Bandar Baati” which are seeds enclosed by a dried and flaky skin. These are scattered all along the road at many places. This skin is to be peeled off (good luck cleaning the car later on) and the seed is edible. I don’t know the English name for the same. A picture of this is attached below:

Bandar Baati: Uthao, Cheelo aur Khao!
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The route taken was NH 76 towards Abu Road. The highway was four lane and divided, with very low traffic and butter smooth roads. It was an extremely relaxing drive and we drove in a very sedate manner just to enjoy the road. The turn off for Ranakpur comes up approximately 7 kilometres after the toll (Rs. 50). The turn off is well marked. After the turnoff we drove along the SH32 which is single lane but with good roads. One can easily maintain 60-80 km/h here. About 28 kms into SH32 one comes to the village of Sayra. From here at one needs to take a left turn for going to Ranakpur temple. For reaching Kumbalgarh one has to continue straight. Once we took the left the road becomes narrower but the surface is still good. The ghats also start from here and the Wagon R had difficulty climbing in various places, since it was loaded with 5 persons.

At about 1 pm we finally reached the temple. After entry from the main gate we made our way to the parking lot. Left the car there and proceeded towards the temple. The parking lot is behind the main temple. Around the parking lot there are various dharamshalas and also the canteen. When we reached the main entry gate to the temple we were informed by the guard that we should proceed to have lunch first since the canteen closes by 2pm. We saw our watches and it was close to 1.30. So we went straight first for lunch. Waited for half an hour in the canteen while lunch was being served in a first come first serve manner. When finally our turn came the server asked us for our coupons. To our horror we realised that we had forgotten to buy them. Rushed to the counter but were informed that lunch time was over and coupons were not available any more! We pleaded with the cashier that we were already waiting for lunch for half an hour and were not aware that coupons needed to be bought before hand. Finally after 15 minutes of begging, he sold us the coupons for lunch. This was one lunch which we really earned! The lunch was very simple and very tasty. It was Jain food so no onions or garlic or potatoes were used.

After lunch, we made our way to the temple. Along with the entry fee there is an additional fee for cameras and mobile phones. Since we had about 7 mobiles and 3 cameras between the 5 of us we decided that we will carry only one camera inside and leave the remaining items in the lockers. My friend who was wearing shorts was informed that he need to rent trousers as wearing shorts was not allowed inside the temple. Ladies in sleeveless clothes were also asked to cover up using a dupatta or something similar.

The temple itself is in one work – Magnificent. I have been to various temples around the country and this one is right on top of my most favored ones. There were not too many people around again and we had a leisurely walk inside the temple.

Some background on the temple:

“Ranakpur is widely known for its marble Jain temple, said to be the most spectacular of the Jain temples. The renowned Jain temple at Ranakpur is dedicated to Tirthankara Adinatha.

Local legend has it that Dharma Shah, a local Jain businessperson, started construction of the temple in the 15th century following a divine vision. The temple honors Adinath, the first Tirthankar and founder of the Jain religion.

The town of Ranakpur and the temple are named after the provincial ruler monarch, Rana Kumbha who supported the construction of the temple.
The temple, with its distinctive domes, shikhara, turret sand cupolas rises majestically from the slope of a hill. Over 1440 marble pillars, carved in exquisite detail, support the temple. The pillars are all differently carved and no two pillars are the same. It is also said that it is impossible to count the pillars. Also all the statues face one or the other statue. There is one beautiful carving made out of a single marble rock where there 108 heads of snakes and numerous tails. One cannot find the end of the tails. The image faces all four cardinal directions. In the axis of the main entrance, on the western side, is the largest image.

The temple is designed as ‘Chaumukha’—with four faces. The construction of the temple and quadrupled image symbolize the Tirthankara's conquest of the four cardinal directions and hence the cosmos.”

[Source: www.wikipedia.org]

We found an English speaking priest who acted as our guide around the temple. There are supposed to be 1,440 carved marble pillars inside the temple. Each pillar has a different carving. He also showed us one pillar which was slightly leaning and crooked. He told us this was deliberately done so that "iss mandir ko kisi ki nazar naa lage" Walking around the temple was a very serene and calming experience. This temple is unlike many other temples which have maddening crowds. The temple itself is quite large and it does take a while to cover the entire complex.

Some pictures of the temple:

The Main Temple Complex:
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A sample of the intricate carving on the temple walls:
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One of the beautifully carved domes of the temple:
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Carved dome ceiling of the temple:
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Few of the 1,440 pillars of the temple:
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At around 4.15pm we finally collected our stuff from the locker room and started our drive towards Kumbalgarh fort. The idea was to reach around 5pm and explore the fort for an hour. Since we already knew that that we needed to walk up a steep pathway to the top of the fort we wanted to reach in the evening only so that the temperature was cooler. Kumbalgarh fort is about 50kms from Ranakpur.

The route leads back to the village of Sayra. From here one needs to take a left turn to go to Kumbalgarh. The road from Sayra to Kumbalgarh fort is quite bad. It is full of potholes and craters. It also passes through a lot of small villages where the road becomes narrow enough for just one car to pass. At a few places we were stuck when cars from the opposite side approached (the Scorpios and the Dusters were bullying the small Wagon R here). It took us almost an hour to negotiate 30 kms to the fort. The area surrounding the fort is a sanctuary and is quite a dense forest. We did not see any animals though except a large number of langurs which were present all through the route. Stopped enroute at a place where there was one tree filled with langurs. These monkeys come up to the car in anticipation of food. But we did not give any food to them. Animals in the wild should never be fed. It makes them dependent on humans and they loose their natural habit of looking for food in the wild. Clicked a few pictures and proceeded further.

Monkey Business:
Mumbai to Udaipur & around - In the land of the Maharana-langur-family.jpg

The rest of the journey was uneventful and I was left to negotiate the potholes while the others dozed off. We reached the base of the fort at around 5.30pm. There were a lot of cars already present and obtaining a spot for parking was quite a task. We were finally able to get parking after 15 minutes of back and forth. We bought the entry tickets for the fort (Rs. 5 only) and also the tickets for the light and sound show in the evening after sunset. We all had a banana each to rev up our energy levels since we knew that we had to climb up a steep pathway to reach up to the top of the fort.

Some background about the fort:

“Kumbhalgarh Fort is the second most important fort of Rajasthan after Chittorgarh. It is a World Heritage Site included in Hill Forts of Rajasthan. Built during the course of the 15th century by Rana Kumbha and enlarged through the 19th century, Kumbhalgarh is also the birthplace of Maharana Pratap, the great king and warrior of Mewar.

Built on a hilltop 1100 metres above sea level, the fort of Kumbhalgarh has perimeter walls that extend 36 kilometres (22 miles), making it the second longest wall in the world. The frontal walls are fifteen feet thick. Kumbhalgarh has seven fortified gateways. There are over 360 temples within the fort, 300 ancient Jain and the rest Hindu. From the palace top, it is possible to see kilometers into the Aravalli Range. The sand dunes of the Thar desert can be seen from the fort walls.

According to legend, in 1443, the Maharana of Kumbhalgarh, Rana Kumbha, was initially repeatedly unsuccessful in attempts to build the fort wall. A spiritual preceptor was consulted about the construction problems and advised the ruler that a voluntary human sacrifice would solve whatever was causing the impediment. The spiritual advisor advised building a temple where the head should fall and building the wall and the fort where the rest of his body lay. As can be expected, for some time no one volunteered, but one day, a pilgrim (some versions suggest a soldier, and some, that the spiritual preceptor and the pilgrim were one and the same) volunteered and was ritually decapitated. Today the main gate of the fortress, Hanuman Pol, contains a shrine and a temple to commemorate the great sacrifice.

Kumbhalgarh also separated Mewar and Marwar from each other and was used as a place of refuge for the rulers of Mewar at times of danger. The fort remains impregnable to direct assault, and fell only once for two days, due to a shortage of drinking water, to the combined forces of Mughal Emperor Akbar, Raja Man Singh of Amber, Raja Udai Singh of Marwar, and the Mirzas in Gujarat.”

[Source: www.wikipedia.org]

The fort itself is very well preserved by the ASI. The walkway upto the top is fairly steep but there are lots of benches on the way where one can take a break. To reach to the top one has to walk through a number of gateways. The main ones which are on the way are Halla Pol, Hanuman Pol, Ram Pol and Vijay Pol. The main palatial complex on top is accessed through three pols known as the Bhairon Pol, the Nimboo Pol and the Paghra Pol.

After passing through the various gateways there is a sign board which shows the birthplace of Maharana Pratap. This building is known as Jhalia ka Malia. Being from Mewar a sense of pride crept up inside me to see the birth place of arguably one of the greatest Rajput kings in history – Maharana Pratap. We have grown up hearing stories of his conquests and this was indeed a great moment.

The other interesting areas of the fort are the Kumbha Palace and the Badal Mahal. The Badal Mahal is the highest point of the fort. It was built by Rana Fateh Singh. It consists of two portions the Mardana Mahal and the Zenana Mahal. The Zenana like the City Palace in Udaipur has intricate jaali work from where the queens could see the various processions since they were not allowed to mingle with the males.

There are also a number of temples within the complex. We were able to visit only a few due to lack of time. The main ones are Ganesh Temple and the Neelkanth Mahadev Temple. We also walked a bit on the Great Wall of India. This fort has the longest continuous wall after the Great Wall of China. It extends to 36 kilometres. This combined with the strategic mountainous location were the main reasons why the fort was never conquered.

We were able to catch the sunset over the Aravallis from the terrace of the Badal Mahal. It was indeed a sight to behold. After the sunset we started our descent to the base of the fort. The light and sound show was scheduled to start around 7.15pm and we wanted to get good seats for the show.

The show lasts for about 45 minutes and tells us about the history of the fort right from the time it was conceived. The lights are used to provide theatrics to accompany the narration. It was very interesting and we really enjoyed the show. I would recommend everyone who goes to Kumbalgarh should absolutely not miss it. By the time the show was over it was around 8.15. Surprisingly even in the month of April the evening was quite chilly. By this time the fort and surrounding areas were very nicely lit up. It’s an absolutely amazing sight seeing the fort at night.

Some pics from the fort:

The zig zag pathway up the fort:
Mumbai to Udaipur & around - In the land of the Maharana-kumbalgarh-p1.jpg

Trudging up the steep path:
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The Great Wall of India - the longest continuous wall in the world after the Great Wall of China - 36 kms:
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Views from the top:
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At the top of the Badal Mahal:
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Sunset Pictures from the top:
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Mumbai to Udaipur & around - In the land of the Maharana-kumbalgarh-p3-sunset.jpg

Kumbalgarh fort lit up after sunset:
Mumbai to Udaipur & around - In the land of the Maharana-kumbalgarh-p4-night.jpg

Around 8.45pm we started our drive back to Udaipur. We did not want to wait longer since we knew the drive back would be through a lonely potholed road at night and we had to cover approximately 100 kms. Again till Sayra, the nightmare road continued and we took about 45 minutes to cover the 30 km. One thing we noticed was that people in most of the villages were already asleep and there was hardly any activity anywhere. We did not even see any dogs around. It was partly due to the fact that this road passes through the jungle and wild animals including leopards and sloth bears are inhabitants here. For most of the route till the road joined NH 76 (about 50km) we were the only ones on the road and there was absolute darkness. This mood was reflected in the car as well. But there were no issues. The road after Sayra till the NH is in good shape and we were able to speed up.

Finally reached Udaipur around 11pm. There was hardly any traffic on the NH as well. There was still a matter of dinner. My wife suggested we go to Sukhadia Circle which has a lot of street food shops. Most of the other restaurants would be closed by this time. Luckily at Sukhadia circle most of the shops were open and we were able to have a good dinner.

Reached home at 12am and crashed on the bed. It was the end of another thoroughly satisfying day.

Contd…Day 3

Last edited by ashver9133 : 1st May 2015 at 16:08.
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Old 2nd May 2015, 13:44   #3
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 4th May 2015, 14:27   #4
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Wonderful travelogue there. Udaipur has a lot of beautiful monuments sand sites. Been there multiple times and I can never seem to get enough of it. The car museum is an added bonus.
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Old 7th May 2015, 21:27   #5
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Day 3: 5TH APRIL, 2015:

Day three started with a little disappointment knowing that this was going to be the last day in Udaipur to see the remaining places. We had kept our last day for meeting various relatives. There were still many places which we had to see and only one day in hand. So we put our thinking caps on and made a list of places which we had to see and should not be missed. The previous day while driving back from Kumbalgarh, we had made a tentative list of places which still needed to be covered. My friends also wanted to do a bit of shopping during the day. Finally after much deliberation we were able to list down the places which we would be visiting today.

Started from home around 11am after a very heavy breakfast (courtesy M.I.L). The first place which we visited today was Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal. It is a government institution whose aim is to promote and popularise folk arts, crafts, dances and literature of the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

The institution consists of two main divisions – the museum and the theatre. The museum exhibits a large interesting collection of Rajasthani articles such as puppets, masks, dresses, dolls, musical instruments, paintings etc. Folk dances of various regions of Rajasthan are displayed here.

The second part is the theatre where regular live puppet shows and folk dances are held. There are two special one hour shows every day each at 12pm and 6pm. This consists of a half hour puppet show and a half hour folk dance show. We were lucky to get tickets for this special show at 12 pm. This one hour show is excellent and is not to be missed. The puppet show is absolutely amazing. Strings are attached to these puppets which are then controlled by a puppeteer who makes them dance and move in a very life like manner. There are different short acts of 5-7 minutes each which are performed by different puppets. All along live music is played and singers sing various folk songs. This puppet show will be enjoyed equally by young and old. It is my recommendation to anyone visiting Udaipur with children to take them to watch this show.

After the puppet show, it was the turn of the dancers to perform various folk dances. The highlight of the dance show was the final act where the dancer balances 8 pots on his head and performs his dance over broken glass. This dance is called the Bhawai Dance and the Kalbelia tribe is especially renowned for this form of dance and the women perform this while balancing as many as 10 pots on their heads.

Some Pics from the Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandal:

Puppet shows at the Lok Kala Mandal:
Mumbai to Udaipur & around - In the land of the Maharana-puppet1.jpg
Mumbai to Udaipur & around - In the land of the Maharana-puppet2.jpg

Bhawai Dancer balancing pots while dancing:
Mumbai to Udaipur & around - In the land of the Maharana-dance1.jpg

By the time the show was over at the Lok Kala Mandal, it was about 1.30pm. We decided to say goodbye to the Lok Kala Mandal and head out for a bit of shopping. Since my friends were on their first trip to Udaipur, they wanted to do purchase some local wares. The best place to shop for local items such as handicrafts is Hathi Pol area. A short drive later we were at Hathi Pol and the ladies immediately had a wide grin on their faces. We told them that we should not spend a lot of time shopping since we had to visit a few more places.

Udaipur is mainly known for its historical places and its lakes. However, like most places in Rajasthan, it is also known for its handicrafts. Visitors can look for the following items in their shopping agenda:

**Handicrafts – toys, puppets (must buy), pen stands, wooden boxes etc
**Miniature paintings
**Jewellery – artificial and real, silverware etc. (The old city area and its
bye lanes near the City Palace are full of jewellery shops. A little further down is an area called “Bada Bazaar or Ghanta Ghar”. This is the traditional jewellery market.)
**Wooden Toys
**Clothes – Batik and Hand Prints, Bandhani sarees, printed bed sheets etc.

Shopping here with my wife made me realise one thing. How poor are the bargaining skills of people from Mumbai. My wife who is brought up in Udaipur is a natural in bargaining. It’s like this skill is hard wired in their DNA.

An interesting contraption which we saw in the market:

A Royal Bike!
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After about two hours of some fruitful shopping it was time to move to our next destination. We had decided to go to Karni Mata Temple. The temple is located on a hill in near the Pichola lake. There are two ways to reach the top – by foot, using a steep but paved pathway or by a rope way.

There is a decent parking area at the base and the ticket counter is also located nearby. However, there was some rush since it was a Saturday. We were informed that our turn would come in about one hour. We bought the tickets and were allotted our token numbers for the rope way. This token number is displayed on an electronic board and ones needs to enter the boarding area as and when the token number is displayed.

Since we had about one hour to kill, we decided to explore the nearby area. A short walk from there leads to the Pichola lake area. There is an excellent promenade and lots of families were enjoying the evening over there. There are a number of boat operators near the promenade. Visitors can enjoy a boat ride in the Pichola lake. It is a beautiful experience, especially around sunset. We decided to take the boat ride. The ride is for 25 minutes and costs Rs. 125 per head. We bought our tickets and boarded the boat. These boats are motorised and have a capacity of about 15-20 persons. The Lake Palace hotel is located right in the middle of the lake. The boat ride is a wide circle around the hotel. We enjoyed this boat ride a lot and were glad that we chose to do it. Pichola lake is surrounded by some of the most beautiful buildings in the city. These include:

**The Taj Lake Palace hotel – was built as a summer palace in the 1700s. Since 1973, the Taj group has taken it on lease from the royal family and is running it as a luxury hotel.
**The City Palace – already described on day 1 of the travelogue
**The Jag Mandir – is the second palace located on an island in the Pichola. It was mainly used by the royal family for hosting parties. It is currently available for hosting functions
**The Oberoi Udai Vilas – one of the world’s best hotels
**Hotel Leela Palace – one of the luxury hotel properties of the Leela group
**Ghangour Ghat – where the festival of ghangour is celebrated in grand style every year.

Some pics from our boat ride:

The City Palace from the Pichola Lake:
Mumbai to Udaipur & around - In the land of the Maharana-cp-boat-ride.jpg

The Lake Palace and the City Palace:
Mumbai to Udaipur & around - In the land of the Maharana-tlp-boat.jpg

The Jag Mandir:
Mumbai to Udaipur & around - In the land of the Maharana-jag-mandir.jpg

After the boat ride we went back to the ticket counter of the rope way. Due to the rush there was still about half hour remaining for our turn on the rope way. Opposite the ticket counter is a public garden by the name of Deen Dayal Park, which over looks the Pichola lake and offers good views of the lake. We decided to go to the park to watch the sunset. Unfortunately it was not a clear day and there was a lot of haze (later on we learnt that a massive dust storm had struck the middle east and the effects were felt till India!).

Sunset from the Park:
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After spending 20-25 minutes at the park watching the sun go down in the haze and also watching a family of monkeys ‘monkeying’ around we headed back to the rope way. This time we were lucky and it was our turn to board. The ropeway consists of two cars of six seats each. Hence each trip can ferry up 12 persons at a time. The ride up is not very long and lasts for about 10 minutes. It was starting to get darker now and hence could not click any pictures here. We saw a lot of peacocks in the area below the cable cars.

Once on the top there are two areas to visit. The viewing platform which offers spectacular 360 degree views of the entire city. Unfortunately, due to the haze the views that day were not at all clear. We however, managed to click a few pictures of the city from top. The City Palace and the other historical buildings around the Pichola lake looked very beautiful from the top now that they were lit. The City Palace is one massive building and the top view offers an excellent perspective of the size of the palace vis-a-vis the other buildings.

City Palace from the Karni Mata temple:
Mumbai to Udaipur & around - In the land of the Maharana-view2.jpg

The Karni Mata temple is located nearby and is a small but beautiful temple. It is dedicated to Karniji who is the official deity of the royal family of Jodhpur and Bikaner (where the famous rat temple also dedicated to Karniji is located). The temple itself was being renovated at that time. After darshan, we spent some more time at the top just soaking in the views. By the time we started our way down it was around 8.30pm. We used the ropeway on our way down also.

Our last destination for the day was Manjhi Ghat. This was the place which we had earmarked to visit on the first day during our failed attempt to have dinner at the Ambrai restaurant. The last time we came here, we had a harrowing time negotiating the narrow old city roads. Hence we decided to take the car only half way and park at a safe place and take a rickshaw for the balance part of the journey. In the old city we found a pay and park near the Jagdish temple. From here we took a rickshaw to the Manjhi ghat (Rs. 60). Finally we reached there around 9.45 pm.

Manjhi ghat is located exactly opposite the ghangour ghat. It offers excellent views of the entire Pichola lake. At this time all the historical buildings around the area were lit up with yellow lights. It was a magnificent sight to see the City Palace in all its grandeur. From one side of the ghat we can see the City Palace and the Ghangour ghat. On the second side we could see the Taj Lake palace (also lit up in white light) and the Jag Mandir Palace. On the third side we could see the Oberoi Udai Vilas and the Leela Palace hotel.

Anyone visiting Udaipur, please note that this place is not to be missed. The ghat itself was not crowded at all and we were pleased to be here. We set up the tripod and the camera and took a lot of pictures of the City Palace and the Lake Palace. Manjhi ghat was the perfect end to our trip!

The City Palace at night from the Manjhi Ghat:
Mumbai to Udaipur & around - In the land of the Maharana-cp-manjhi.jpg

Taj Lake Palace all lit up:
Mumbai to Udaipur & around - In the land of the Maharana-tlp-manjhi.jpg

End of Day 3....
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Old 11th May 2015, 13:31   #6
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Awesome narration there my friend.
I love Rajasthan. I belong to the Kumbhalgarh area, some village it is. Our ancestors moved from there long long ago.
I'm planning to visit Kumbhalgarh and beyond very soon. The last time I was here, I visited til Ranakpur.
My plan is to visit even the infamous forts and havelies, and soak in every bit of history in.
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