Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Udaiper, India

"I was conscious that I was experiencing something unforgettable, one of those magical moments which we only understand when it has passed.  I was entirely in the present, with no past, no future, absorbed in experiencing the morning, the music, the sweetness and the unexpected prayer.  I entered a state of worship and ectasy and gratitude for being in the world.  I understood once again that the grandeur of God reveals itself through simple things."
~Paulo Coelho

The moment we arrived in Udaiper, I knew that it was something special.  It's said to be the most romantic place in India (Javed, my guide and a local, maintains that it is the best city on earth), but maybe the reason I fell in love with Udaiper is because of its proximity to Lake Pichola.  As a Cancer, I'm always at my happiest when I'm near water.

The first day in Udaipur, I followed the "usual" tourist agenda.  In the morning, I had henna painted on my hand and arm.

In the afternoon, I visited the City Palace (largest palace in India, built over the span of 300 years)...

Another City Palace shot.  As you can see, it's quite stunning...

Next, there was a stop to Jagdish Mandir, a Vishnu temple in the heart of the "tourist strip."  There was some sort of ceremony going on while I was visiting and I got admonished for taking this picture.  Whoops.  Tourist SNAFU.

The following day, my introvert self felt like being alone so I split with the group and went to read and write at a cafe along the bank of Lake Pichola.  Little did I know that this was going to be the most interesting day of them all. 

The revelation that I made in Udaiper is that when you travel alone, you become a fascination.  So many people want to know the story of the solo traveler and approach to talk.  Immediately, I met another writer from America.  Her name is Lisa, she's awesome and she's traveled all over South America on her own.  I also met four Europeans. 

After I'd had my fill of reading, writing, and meeting fellow travelers, I decided to wander some more.  Wow, the things you see in India.  Like women doing their laundry in Lake Pichola...

And a little girl standing next to a big cow...

Then solo me bumped into one of Javed's friends.  And after some conversation and a cup of Chai tea, I hopped on the back of his motorbike, and he took me to the less "touristy" part of Udaiper.  First, there was a small island where I took pictures of all the exotic plants.


Then we visited Shilpgram, a cultural museum featuring rural arts and crafts.  Afterwards, we drove through what seemed like a mountain rainforest to the Monsoon Palace to watch the sunset.  At that moment, riding on the back of a motorbike through some of the most beautiful terrain on earth, monkeys visible in trees, the wind whipping my hair, a thought arose:

"This is what it feels like to really live."  

Later I was invited to an Indian wedding reception.  Marvelous. 

I capped off the night drinking whiskey on a rooftop, watching fireworks (from the wedding reception) on the other side of Lake Pichola. 

Sometimes it pays to go off on your own and be a solo traveler!

No comments:

Post a Comment