Rajasthan Part I: Udaipur, Ranakpur, Jodhpur
From Pune, we took our first night sleeper bus to Udaipur, in the western state of Rajasthan. It was actually a pretty fun and comfortable ride. Funny story: We stopped to get dinner at about 11pm at a roadside restaurant. We were eating our super cheap and delicious thalis, when we started freaking out because we saw our bus suddenly pulling out. We thought it was leaving, so we rushed up to wash our hands and pay, making a scene that everyone noticed because we weren't even half-way through our meal. My mom rushed to our bus to stop them and the driver said, ok we’ll wait 5 minutes. People around us laughed and they told us to calm down and take our time, that the bus would wait for us to finish our meal. The lady owner of the restaurant also chuckled and motioned us to sit down and take our time. We had paid for our meal so we deserved to finish what we paid for. So they waited for us and all was good that night.
Lesson learned. One thing you learn in India is to relax and remain calm, no matter what. You will notice that locals here are never in a rush or agitated. What for? It’s something we Westerners should surely try and follow. We are all too often in a hurry to get to the next place, complete the next errand, next meeting, etc, etc…All the time! Let’s just relax and take it slow, my friends! ;)
Udaipur is a beautiful place to spend a few days in. Historically the capital of the Mewar Kingdom, it is also known as the "City of Lakes" or "Venice of the East." It is a very romantic city where you can take strolls amid the old, narrow streets or take a boat ride to see the City Palace and sunset from the lake.
We stayed at the Backpacker Panda hostel in Udaipur, right next to Lake Pichola. The staff there were super nice and helpful and there was a great rooftop terrace where I practiced yoga and had a great view of the lake. They have dormitory rooms and private rooms; very clean, good location, and highly recommended.
My favorite things in Udaipur were:
- Millets of Mewar: a vegetarian restaurant using local, raw, organic ingredients with vegan and gluten-free options. They have Indian food as well as Western options, and they also host cooking classes! Highly recommended if you're looking for a healthy alternative, good vibes, and very kind staff ~
- Ashtanga Yoga Ashram: my first yoga class in India, with a traditional Ashtanga teacher (Yogacharya Jaswant) respecting the lineage and traditional teachings as defined in the Yoga sutras of Patanjali. Highly recommended.
- dinner at Ambrai: my mom had the best lamb curry of her life and I had a lentil dal. This restaurant has the best panoramic view of City Palace and Lake Palace with a pleasant garden.
- Shilpgram Festival: winter rural arts and crafts festival to see real rural Rajasthani culture! Artisans and craftsmen come from all over India to sell their goods.
- cultural show at Bagore Ki Haveli: daily shows for low price, don't miss!
We took a private taxi to Jodhpur and stopped in Ranakpur on the way. Ranakpur is a village famous for its beautiful white marble Jain temple. It was definitely worth the visit. The temple has amazing carvings and a magnificent sacred geometry that makes one feel as if you've walked into heaven.
We arrived to Jodhpur by sunset and unfortunately were only there for one night because we wanted to make it to the desert to bring in the New Year. Nevertheless, I had a very good impression of Jodhpur. Our guesthouse, Namaste Caffe, was awesome! It was located in the walled city and I'm sure they have the best rooftop with the best view of the fort and surrounding area. I would have enjoyed staying more time here. I had my birthday dinner at another rooftop restaurant overlooking the fort and we left the next morning by bus to Jaisalmer for our desert adventures.