udaipur – land of (no) lakes


after gujarat, we headed northward to the state of rajasthan. we were really excited about this since we had heard that this just might be the most interesting and colorful state in india. in rajasthan, there is a blue city, a pink city, and a golden city! together w/ those, the other most famous city in this state is Udaipur. it’s famous for being a nice pretty town next to a beautiful lake that has several islands.

but when we got there, there was no lake. during the last few years the monsoons that come throug this area and fill up the lake have been rather weak. since the lake is so shallow, it eventually dried up, and now there is hardly any water to be seen. the “islands” that used to be incredibly impressive since they have shimmering hotels that reflect off the lake’s waters, are no longer islands. you used to have to take a boat to get to the island hotels… now cars just drive across the dry lake bed.

nevertheless, despite the unusual absence of a lake in a town known for its lake, udaipur has still been a really nice town to see. it’s a town full of small winding streets that run up and down the towns many hills. the streets are so narrow, that there is barely room for two cars to pass each other and rickshaws have to maneuver very carefully to get past other cars, cows, and people. most of the buildings here have a white color and it adds an interesting uniformity to the town. the atmosphere is quite relaxed, but at the same time, it’s definitely a very touristy town. every building is either a hotel (with a restaurant on it’s top floor), an interent shop (w/ a bookshop and photo lab inside), antique shop, souvenir shop, etc etc. somehow, despite all the toursity stuff, udaipur still maintains a nice charm.

we’re staying at a nice (well, nicer) hotel that’s so much cleaner and better than the other places we’ve stayed at. our room has a little nook next to colored glass windows, a tv, an actual hot shower, and a big bed. all this for just 9 bucks. a real step up from the last place we were at!!

the first evening that we stayed here, i heard all this noise outside. loud music, firecrackers, people chanting. i went outside to investigate, and there was a wedding procession walking by our hotel. it was rally really cool to see. everyone was dancing around and having a blast to the music as they walked. the groom was seated on a decorated white horse and he towered above the walking crowd. but, i wondered where the bride was in all this? wherever she was, she definitely wasn’t nearly as prominent as the groom!


3 thoughts on “udaipur – land of (no) lakes”

  1. Hi, Vlad, your travelogue is quite interesting. Since you were wondering where the bride was in the wedding procession, and in case you didn’t figure it out by now, the procession is called a “baraat”, i.e., the groom’s party is proceeding towards the bride’s house, where they will be welcomed by the bride’s party and that is where the bride and the groom will be united and the wedding ceremony will be performed.

  2. If I were supersitious, I’d say that the lake dried up because of the greed of hotel which decided sometime in the 80s to do away with all those delicate beautiful balconies surrounding the lake palace and enclose them for more hotel rooms. It was almost criminal–I stayed in the palace there in 1968 as a Peace Corps volunteer and was enchanted. I know that I belabor the point, but India lost something extraordinary when the lake palace was “disfigured” for commercial reasons. Maybe in 100 years, someone will recognize the alterations and knock the offending enclosures and return the building to its original beauty–maybe the rains will return!
    Gail 12 Aug 2008

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