We got ourselves dumped into the car and headed to Udaipur – The City of Lakes. The first day, I went for some quick shopping along with my nine month old son. Some days, I think I’m Tarzan! Luckily, he (my son, not Tarzan) did not get restless even though we shopped for handicrafts in the scorching heat. My Hush Puppies felt it the most because of their direct contact with Mother Earth.
The shopping center called Hathi Pole was attractive with all the various types of colourful handicrafts made by the artists themselves. Slippers, mobile pouches, shawls and bags were among the things that caught my eye and I paid for it. My friend and I looked like two hippies with large bags of loot behind us (almost like Santa Claus’). Yes, we had shopped quite a bit.
Next day, another friend and I visited the Udaipur palace. We were short of time and the palace would close in a couple of hours, so we decided to get done with the palace and then head on to our next touristic visit. We had to leave our cab at the security stop from where it took forever to reach the gigantic spiked doors of the palace. We enjoyed the view of Lake Pichola on the way up. We hired a guide and because he took us through the museum by fluently telling us who did what and what the kings used and which was the king’s favourite wife, and so on, the question I always put forth to my mother since class ten, was answered. Why were we being taught history? I was guessing that maybe it was to become a palace guide because I was totally fascinated by his flawless history memory. He was answering questions better than my history teacher did. It was like as if he had lived in that era along with the kings and queens.
The palace had more of battle paintings, silver items and old photographs on display. The ornament windows, which were an inch deep, from which the women were permitted to peep, led me to think about the lives the women, of the palace, led. They were not allowed to be seen so they had to struggle and strain their eyes if they wanted to watch, through those windows, the events taking place within the palace. They were to get to their rooms before the sun set because the narrow (almost claustrophobic) corridors, leading to their respective rooms, did not have light except for the sun light shining through the thin and opaque marble windows which allowed some light through. I questioned how a mother would find her child in this palace, with numerous corridors leading to various rooms, without disturbing anyone. He said there were nannies.
The corridors were narrow and the doors were a little more than five feet high, so in many places in the palace, my head would almost touch the top. Almost! I wondered how a huge person (length or breath wise) would feel walking through these spaces. I mean the guide could have been taking us to a dungeon to chop our heads off for all we knew as we girls were blindly following him through the winding corridors deep into the palace not even sure if we were on the top floors or the basement.
From a helicopter, the palace looks like a ship, amazingly built. This we know because of the model of the palace placed in one of the halls. There was a make-up room, a place where the king smoked (hookah), baby room, honeymoon room which was so small that it confirmed that nothing else happened there, except what was supposed to, on the bed. The rooms were pretty far from each other so how the king remained fat was a mystery. It was probably the rich food with no exercise. I, myself, had managed to put on quite a lot of weight in the mere nine days in Rajasthan.
The king built a palace each for the summer, winter (now known as the Taj Lake Palace, supposedly the most romantic hotel in the world) and monsoons (located on the top of a hill) and each of them had a different queen in it. Each of the palaces overlooked the serene Lake Pichola.
After being captivated by royalty, we headed to Saheliyon ki Badi (a huge garden made by a king for the royal ladies). It did not fascinate us despite the lavish garden with fountains, elephant statues, a lotus pool and wonderful walkways so if you want to enjoy it, visit it before you visit the palace.
I imagined little royal girls playing around giggling there at the garden. How their lives turned out when they grew up was quite a sad memory. I’m glad that the world has come far from the mostly suppressed life of a woman. So, let us all enjoy the structures made by the kings while raising our daughters to be independent, strong and fearless, yet good, human beings.
Take a look at more pictures HERE.