Udaipur on Rivers
Pushkar to Udaipur
It took a few days, but we succeeded to gather a small group to hire a jeep to Udaipur at a price we could all handle. This was all arranged around the illustrious Shiva’s Travel Agency in Pushkar, an agency specialized in Israeli travelers. By Thursday morning the 13th we finally set out on our way, having our luggage hoisted on to the jeep. There were five of us – one young post-army guy, a mother-daughter pair, me and Einat. Einat is a young handicapped Israeli girl whom I was fortunate to meet on this trip and got to love. Thanks to social media, we still keep in touch a year after the trip.
The drive was long and fairly boring. The views monotonous. I was feeling uncomfortable and irritable most of the ride not realizing why, until the mother, who insisted on A/C , consented to open the windows. Following that, I did great.
It is becoming more and more common among Israelis. Parents join their post-army children at some point during their trips to India and the “East”. They usually travel together for several weeks, and then the sons or daughters take off on their own, or back to their friends. With the parents they of course enjoy more luxuries for a short while.
Reaching Udaipur and the Nukkad Hotel
Night view over Little Prince and Jasmin Restaurants viewed across the river from rooftop Nukkad Guesthouse, Udaipur
To each their own
When we eventually arrived at the rikshaw/taxi hub by Udaipur’s gates, the group broke up. The mother-daughter couple took a taxi to their fancy pre-reserved hotel. The post-army guy, who was scrimping and saving every rupee, insisted on finding the cheapest place possible. He quickly jumped off the jeep and split.
Me and Einat, who obviously could not “run fast” were the last to remain in the jeep. A number of rickshaw drivers were all trying to get us on their vehicles. Eventually we picked one and told him to take us to a Lonely-Planet-recommended guesthouse – the Nukkad Hotel at the very center of the old town.
The Nukkad Hotel
It had to be on the first floor to make it easy for Einat to climb (only 20 steps), but the room was fairly funky. The manager gave us a discount, but it was still more expensive than my oustanding Kalyan Hotel room in Jaipur. Kalyan was a hotel with services – hot water, cold water brought in thermoses to the rooms. Everything was clean and beautifully decorated. The room had a gorgeous shower with amenities, including a sterilized toilet and cups. There was pretty furniture, fans and a beautiful double bed. It cost all of ₹765. Here we paid ₹800 between the two of us…
This was the first time I shared a room on this trip. Einat slept on the double bed and I slept on a big metal container-type box covered with a mattress. I crawled into my sleeping bag liner and put my shawl above for extra cover. The blanket was too disgusting, so I used it only to cover the the lower legs. This was also the first time I felt unsafe using the given sheets at an accomodation in India, which by itself is quite remarkable…
There was a rooftop restaurant with awesome 360-degrees views, but it was reached through more than five flights of stairs, out of which the top ones were of the narrow spiral metal-net type. Einat insisted on climbing them, and she did. This girl’s determination and grit put me to shame.
We had a nice meal and took many pictures, but afterwards Einat could not sleep until 3 in the morning. She felt that ants were crawling over her, and the next day started immediately to look for a different place.
Udaipur Morning Stroll - Photos at Every Corner
In contrast with the room, the city was wonderfully clean, and the views magnificent.
I took an early morning stroll by myself. Einat stayed in the room for a while, and later went out searching for better accomodation.
Beautiful murals on houses in old parts of Udaipur City, Rajasthan
The walk was refreshing and exhilirating.
In comparison with Udaipur, Pushkar was a total hovel: cows and cowshit everywhere, “only-milk-not-money” lady beggars sticking to one with unclear intentions, children asking for “chapatti”, weird saddhus wasting away, broken pipes creating ponds in streets causing water shortages, electiricy on and off…
Udaipur City, in contrast, combined European air and dignity with classical Indian majesty and artistry. [I describe the specilized marble work in the sequel post, Udaipur on Rivers II ( in preparation).]
The main problem in Udaipur was the abundance of motorcycles in the small, narrow alleys. Serious danger, a constant near-hit situation as I elaborate below.
The city also had very nice stores, lots of arts and crafts, incredible architecture and amazing heritage sites. The old parts reminded me of some neighborhoods in Jerusalem. Photo opportunities were lurking for the photo enthusiast at every corner.
Udaipur Evening Magic on the Waters
When the sun started to sink [and after my tour of the City Palace and the lake boat ride described in the sequel post (in preparation)], I went out again for an evening stroll, this time with Einat. We walked down to the river.
According to udaipurblog.com, “Udaipur has been blessed by, not just one, but nine major rivers“. I wasn’t totally clear which was a river and which was a lake, but beauty did not mind our definitions.
River views. Little Prince Restaurant and Jasmin Restaurant at dusk. Both are Hebrew-fluent…
We crossed the bridge and I took videos and photos of the magical water movement and the lights. The bridge and the river created a European feel, atsmosphere. The water was a bit dirty, but not horrendously so.
When we reached the Little Prince Restaurant that we saw the night before from Nudkkad’s rooftop, the owner came out and addressed us in perfect fluent Hebrew. The wonders of the Israeli presence in India… [You can read my posts series on the Israeli Phenomenon in India here.]
Ladies in saris on Udaipur bridge.
Udaipur – other side of river
…and some challenges
Walking with Einat around the town had been quite a challenge because she refused any help. Motorcycles were approaching us abruptly from around corners, unawares of her difficulties. I was freaking out, but she proceeded to walk calmly, balancing herself precariously between the ditches on the sides of the roads and the traffic. This was India alright, so there were no sidewalks. Slowing before a turn is not a common practice even when the alleys are narrow as in Old Udaipur. Einat survived it all admirably.
Earlier she went by herself to check options regarding moving into the Minerva Hotel, and found out the Israelis were planning for a Kabbalat Shabbat at the rooftop restaurant. The Israeli group energy was stronger in the Minerva Hotel in comparison with Nukkad that was a bit more cosmopolitan. I went back there later and reserved places for the two of us for the evening…
Miverva Hotel and the Udaipur Israeli Scene
Kabbalat Shabbat on the roof of Minerva Hotel, September 14th, 2018
When we arrived, waiters were arranging tables with white tableclothes and cutlery. Once we were all seated, they placed different vegetarian Israeli entries like eggplants, couscous with soup, halla for Shabbat, lentils and matbuha and also Indian pakora with broccoli, in the middle of the long tables. The best dish was the fried cooked spiced potatoes. I did not find the food exciting, since after all I did not come to India to have Israeli food… There were no desserts or drinks, not even water…
The Kabbalat Shabbat was conducted in two separate spaces for the religious and the non-religious. The energy was pleasant and fairly relaxed.
Israelis celebrating Kabblat Shabbat on Minerva Hotel’s rooftop restaurant, Udaipur
The view from the roof was spectacular. White palaces lit around the lake and against the moonlight.
This night I had the room to my own. Einat could not reserve a room at the Minerva for the night (she moved there the next day when I already left), but our hotel manager arranged a private room for her on the second floor. I kept sleeping over the container, apprehensive of the ants. The next night, after a trip to the nearby castles and temples [to be published] I was already on my sleeper bus to Ajmer, an adventure I recounted in my post: Udaipur to Ajmer – The Infernal Sleeper Bus Ride.
I am also dedicating a separate post to the magnificent Udaipur City Palace and boat ride. [See: Udaipur on Rivers II – City Palace and Sailing the Lake (in preparation)]. A third post about the magnificent jeep trip around Udaipur is also in planning.
Keep posted. Subscribe!