Udaipur Overview

I arrived in Udaipur, the City of Lakes, in mid November 2009 after a 17 hour over-night train journey from Mumbai and checked into a budget backpacker's guesthouse in the Old City.

My first impressions were of the contrast between the splendor of the amazing historic architectural landmarks and the poor sanitation of the modern streets. Again, I was overwhelmed by the culture of haggling at shops and my own feelings of embarrassment as I made cultural behavioral bloopers.

Sadhu on Bench near Lake Pichola

From my Sacred Sojourns blog, written 3 days into my Udaipur stay:

"Udaipur…what can I say about the almost magical beauty yet jolting realities of this place?

Imagine, if you can, being in a medieval world, where royalty holds sway in palaces (both real and metaphorical) and common folk struggle to survive in narrow streets teaming with animals and refuse, where open sewage gutters flow in front of luxury restaurants.

Imagine the sounds of dogs, donkeys, cows and locals echoing off plaster walls competing with motorbike engines and auto horns. Imagine muezzin’s prayer calls resounding from mosques throughout the day and Hindu chanting emanating from lakefront temples, competing with modern Bollywood music blaring from rooftop boom boxes and the sounds of construction.

Streets meander past fabulously painted and ornately carved doors and windows and intricate building facades. Shop fronts overflow with richly colored saris and pashminas, traditional antique silver and semi-precious stone jewelry, hand-tooled leather journals, and statues of various Hindu gods in all sizes, old and new. Fruit and vegetable sellers ply their goods between cyber cafes and mobile phone shops.

From the rooftops, especially at dawn and sunset/dusk, the city seems to float above Lake Pichola, as if emerging from or sinking into a dream. Five hundred year old palace ramparts rise on one side, ghats lined with shops and temples on the other, and in the shimmering lake, the mirage-like Jag Mandir and gleaming white Lake Palace complete the scene.

The incongruities of India continue to astound me, sometimes with laughter, sometimes with fears and tears. You never know what will happen next, here."
Cows Grazing in front of Vegetarian Cooking Class Sign

Schoolgirls Walking Behind Construction Pack Animals

Motorbike Parked Beside Traditional Rajasthani Wall Mural

Udaipur, I feel,  was where I finally began to embrace being in India.

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