Exploring the Charming Town of Udaipur
A Relaxing Retreat
When we stumbled upon the captivating town of Udaipur, we knew it was the perfect place to unwind and indulge in leisurely activities. We spent countless hours at our favorite cafe, nestled under a shady tree by the serene Lake Pichola, immersing ourselves in the tranquility of the surroundings. Donna delved into books about different Indian cities and potential destinations while mapping out our future tourist route. Meanwhile, I lost myself in the pages of an English-translated copy of the Mahabharata, a profound Sanskrit epic I discovered at a local bookstore.
The Epic Tale of the Mahabharata
The Mahabharata, which literally translates to “Great Epic of the Bharata Dynasty” in Sanskrit, is one of the most revered ancient Indian epics in Hinduism. It narrates the monumental battle between two groups of cousins, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, as they vie for supreme power and control over the kingdom. This epic poem is a staggering masterpiece, consisting of almost 100,000 couplets, making it about seven times longer than the Iliad and the Odyssey combined and fifteen times lengthier than the Bible!
But beyond its surface-level narrative, the Mahabharata holds countless layers of profound meaning, imparting invaluable life lessons. It serves as a reminder that life, no matter the adversities faced or the injustices endured, always carries on. It emphasizes the importance of taking righteous actions and eradicating evil from our lives.
Unveiling the Bhagavad Gita
Within the vast expanse of the Mahabharata, one remarkable story stands out—the Bhagavad Gita. Translated as “The Song of God” in Sanskrit, this revered Hindu scripture delves into the cosmic struggle between good and evil, manifested through an epic 700-verse dialogue. Describing life as a series of battles between contrasting forces—spirit and matter, soul and body, knowledge and ignorance, and abundance—teaches us that each individual must be entwined in the universe’s divine order to wage their personal war. A battle that, sooner or later, must be won while fostering an eternal relationship between the soul and the divine.
Udaipur’s Silver Screen Charisma
In addition to indulging in the intellectual feast of the Mahabharata, we took long, leisurely strolls through the enchanting streets of Udaipur, immersing ourselves in the unparalleled local atmosphere. It felt like we had stepped onto the set of a cinematic masterpiece. In fact, Udaipur has served as the stunning backdrop for several Hollywood and Bollywood films, including notable titles like The Darjeeling Limited (2007), The Fall (2006), Octopussy (1983), and Gandhi (1982), among others.
Discovering the Majestic City Palace
One of Udaipur’s prized gems is the iconic City Palace, which boasts four centuries of history. Situated on the eastern bank of Lake Pichola, this architectural marvel enchants visitors with a mesmerizing display of villas, ornate halls, magnificent gateways, picturesque courtyards, and sprawling terraces, all embraced by lush gardens. Crafted from the finest materials such as granite and white marble and adorned with intricate silver and mirror work, the City Palace attracts hordes of tourists, although its popularity often leads to overcrowding.
A Memorable Date Night
Seeking a romantic evening during our time in Udaipur, we decided to embark on a “date night” that involved dinner and a movie. Unfortunately, the movie selection did not lend itself to being the epitome of romance, as Bram Stoker’s Dracula was the only film playing. Nonetheless, we embraced the opportunity and made it our plan for the night. After freshening up and donning our finest attire, we headed to our charming little cafe by the lake and indulged in a candlelight dinner. Our menu consisted of grilled chicken and mashed potatoes, among the few dishes Donna could comfortably savor in India. While the medications we acquired in Indore had alleviated some of our health concerns, they hadn’t completely eradicated our amoebic situation.
Following the delightful dinner, we strolled hand in hand to the local movie theater and purchased two tickets for the show. Little did we know that our cinematic experience would take an unexpected turn.
A Comical Encounter
As the courteous usher ushered us inside the theater, we traversed through heavy red velvet draperies, stepping into a dimly lit auditorium. Our eyes gradually adjusted to the darkness as we scoured the room for unoccupied seats. To our surprise, the theater wasn’t particularly crowded—a stroke of luck for us. Shortly after, the soundtrack resonated and warbled as if someone were turning a crank. We could almost make out the Columbia Pictures lady with a torch appearing, and the movie seemed poised to begin. However, the flickering lights and vague images on the screen left us befuddled. It felt like we were attempting to decrypt an enigma hidden in a darkened film. Light-heartedly, I jokingly suggested that the projector bulb may have flickered out, leaving the staff to project the movie with a flashlight. While my jest held a hint of truth, we eventually gave up on deciphering the indiscernible visuals and decided to embark on an impromptu nighttime adventure through the captivating streets of Udaipur.
Embracing Udaipur’s Nighttime Charm
Greeted by the refreshing coolness of the evening breeze, we reveled in the contrast it offered to the day’s scorching heat. As we meandered past charming cafes, we observed animated conversations over steaming cups of chai, painting a vivid picture of intimate moments shared in the city’s cozy establishments. Because another visitor had taken our chosen cafe table, we continued our leisurely stroll along the lakeside. The moon cast its ethereal glow onto the tranquil waters, creating a breathtaking spectacle that exuded an aura of unparalleled romance. It was an enchanting scene, far more evocative than anything Dracula could offer.
Farewell to Udaipur
As our days in Udaipur drew close, we couldn’t help but feel a bittersweet tinge in our hearts. While our time spent in this charming town had been truly memorable, our adventure had to continue. The weight of our dwindling purse reminded us of the imperative to move on. Once captivating and enchanting, Udaipur’s name now seemed to echo a slightly somber sentiment—”You die poor.” With reluctance, we made the decision to bid adieu to this remarkable destination and set our sights on Pushkar, the sacred city that houses the exclusive Brahman temple—one of its kind in all of India.
Next: Holi in Pushkar