Sunday, 10 June 2012

Pushkar and Udaipur

After Jaipur it was a quick run down to Pushkar in the heat. The roads got a LOT better. Mostly 6 lane highway all the way there. Maybe one or two sections of roadworks but you could actually keep the speed up to cover the distance and the traffic was very minimal (honestly officer, I was doing no more than the posted 40km/h limit on this wide open 6 lane highway).

Once I got to Pushkar I found one of the hotels listed in the Lonely Planet, they were off down an alley and my bike was parked outside, safer than directly on the main street. I took a room with air conditioning because it was still in the 40s here, but it had to be cleaned. I was the only guest there that night, and it's the low season, but the only room they showed me needed cleaning. While it was being cleaned I had an awkward chat with the owner, one of those chats where the other person is looking at you but they're actually staring off into space behind you and not listening. I waited out the chatting in my hot riding gear.

Bike parked in the alley. Brushed by wandering cows all day long
The owner informed me that because the family were all going out later that night to watch Rowdy Rathore (posters everywhere here with the tagline "DON'T ANGRY ME") that the restaurant would be closed. I said that was fine, the Lonely Planet listed a heap of places and trip advisor gave me a whole list of options to try.

However, this being low season... The first place on my list to try had staff in it, but they said they were closed and they were only there to clean all the items in the kitchen (noted: pots and utensils cleaned once a year). The second place I tried had a note up saying they were closed until July, which was odd, there were still local and foreign tourists around. I've been trying to avoid unreviewed places just as another tool to avoid food poisoning. I eventually found Rainbow Restaurant, so I was saved! Also note that because Pushkar is a holy Hindu town that alcohol and meat and eggs are banned.

Pushkar exists just because of this holy lake:

Pushkar Lake. 

The kids that watched me for a bit then came up to say hello.
There's not much else too Pushkar. A lot of shops (a lot of leather shops for a vegetarian town), the lake, and closed restaurants. It's not worth staying more than a night, and even that's pushing it. The biggest thing I noticed is how people left me alone. I wasn't the tout magnet I was in other places and no one wanted to come up and practice their English with me. I was just left alone to wander around freely and explore, such a nice change.

But then in the morning it was up at 6:30 and on the bike by 7:30 to try and escape some of the days heat.

View from the short road to Amjer.

The road cut through the hill to Ajmer.
Again, this was a very good day on the roads to Udaipur and I was able to cover a lot of distance quickly. There was just one incident where the 6 lane highway turned into a 2 lane road through the hills where a truck decided to overtake another truck around a corner and it narrowly missed me after I dove off the road. That really doesn't happen often in India. The trucks are often the better drivers, the bus drivers are the worst (followed by tuk tuks, motorbikes, cars, then goats, then cows).

Took a short look up one of the gravel roads to get a better view of the place.

Udaipur is in those mountains there.
About 30km out of Udaipur there are places along the highway which sell marble. This went on for 20km! 20km of places to buy marble and each one was only about 50meters wide! If you want marble this is the place to come. You could spend weeks visiting each one getting the exact right bit that you wanted. I'm surprised there's any of it still left in the ground.

The traffic in Udaipur was another refreshing change too. It was around midday when I got there but the streets weren't insane. It was somewhat normal (compared to the rest of India). 

Another thing I noticed was the temperature, the maximum here was in the mid 30s here and everywhere else has been in the 40s. So much more pleasant to move about in. It felt like winter.

It was also another eerie place where there were minimal touts and people/kids left me alone or didn't acknowledge me. One tuk tuk driver asked me every time I walked past if I wanted a tuk tuk. Surely he should have seen the pattern emerging.

I had picked one hotel out off Agoda that I was going to look at which was about half the price of all the other places, and with air conditioning thrown in too. However, once I got near it I found them pulling up the roads. There was no way for me to get down to the hotel along that road and there was no detour. So I consulted a lot more of trip advisor, lonely planet and agoda and eventually found Raj Palace which had a garage underneath to park my bike in. I had locked my bike though and they came up to my room to ask if I could move it so they could fit another car in, but then they asked me to leave it unlocked. Sure why not. However when it came time to leave they had moved my bike into another garage... A bit worrying, I keep it locked so I know where it is and if it's not there it's been stolen.

Anyway, onto the sites of Udaipur. First one is the City Palace!

The entrance gate.

The palace from inside the grounds. It's been added on to by several different rulers.

The emblem of Rajasthan.
This is actually called the "City Palace Museum", and you're allowed to take you're camera in with an additional 200Rs fee. The security here is just silly though. Once you get into the palace I had to show the camera ticket to a set of guards who search your bag and the they attached the ticket to the camera. However there was a guy there making a fuss of some sort over my camera strap, no idea why but the guards just said I had a ticket and it was ok. Then step two of the security process: get the ticket out to show the guard at the bottom of a set of stairs, he stamps it and you move up the stairs. Step three: at the top of the stairs, with no other way to get there from the bottom of the stairs, another guard asks to check your ticket... Well I guess they've got to put people in jobs here.

This was carved from a single block of marble.

The view out over Udaipur.

A marble fountain.

A garden area at the top of the palace, everythings made from marble.

Marble lattice work. It's like this stuff just comes out of the ground!

Well, at least they have a fire exit, I wonder who has the key.

Using an exhibit to adjust your hair.

The mirror room!

A view over the city side of the palace grounds

These things were put on top after India gained independance.

A spot at the top of the palace.

But I can't go up there :(

A chair is made for each of the Singhs, this is one of them.

This is a sign that you have too much money. This is a door made of Ivory. How many elephants and rhinos did it take to make that!

Bored guard.


Mirror room number two.
And that was it for the palace. There was another exhibit of crystal objects that you could see, but it was 500Rs ($10) and no cameras allowed. I went to get lunch instead.

Ultra wide panorama shot of the Lake. The wide building in the middle of the lake is one of the top ten hotels in the world.

But this one goes to 11.

This is the kind of Indian street you dream of! No traffic, no cows, nice surface!

Someone, somewhere has referred to Udaipur as "The Venice of India" so now that appears in all the guidebooks and wikitravel. But if Venice is this full of trash, urine odours, and cows, and noise then I'm crossing it off the list of places to go.

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