The romance of Udaipur
HAVING lunch at Jagat Niwas, reclining on cushions in a private window alcove framed by scalloped archways, I concluded that Udaipur must be the most romantic place in India, if not the world.
The White City of Rajasthan is almost unbearably romantic, with creamy palaces floating on the lake, sunsets and boat cruises to croon over. Other nicknames for Udaipur include the City of Dawn and the City of Lakes.
In the City Palace, the impossibly decadent lives of Udaipur’s royal Mewar family come to life. War, honour and extravagance loom large, but also romance.
Two large swings are set above a tank of cool water in an open air courtyard. The king and queen would enjoy the breeze and throw flower petals at each other.
Mirror mosaic rooms are aglow with colour and light. Through the scalloped archways I can see the distant Aravillli Ranges.
These days they have some form of constitutional monarchy and the king is essentially a hotelier, with two portions of the palace now converted into hotels. These provide us mere mortals with a chance to be pretend royalty on holiday.
I took a lake cruise at dusk to Jagmindir Island to get the best views of the waterfront palaces and gardens, overhung with creepers and set about with domed follies. From the water you can see the full magnificence of the largest palace complex in Rajasthan.
Wandering around the island and watching the sun go down from the terrace, the palaces gleam white and then golden.
Another day, another sunset, this time from the “Monsoon palace” a few kilometres away from Udaipur by auto rickshaw.
Triangle-tailed kites soar high, swooping around the abandoned castle as the orange disc of the sun sets in the west, tinging the sky pink. From here I can see the whole gamut of Udaipur’s lake and palaces.
Back in the city, the calls of holy men in various temples echo around me and I can hear drummers and singing approaching from a few streets away.
It is Saturday night and wedding parties are taking place all over town. Brightly-dressed ladies, flowers and fireworks. Yes, Udaipur is the most romantic place in India.