Day Twelve: On to Udaipur, the White City of Lakes
We woke up to our last day in Ranakpur. Wylie developed a scratchy throat and clogged sinus combo, so he slept in. I thought I’d catch some vitamin D and poolside vibes, so I took my lazy morning self out to the lawn right outside.
Immediately, a very chatty and nice man by the name of Tulsi (like the plant, holy basil) came up to talk to me. I found out very quickly that he was the head chef of the hotel and grew most of the menu’s spices and veggies on his own personal farm a few kilometers up the road. When I told him about Wylie’s sickness, he jumped at the chance to show off his folkloric knowledge of ayurvedic concoctions that would help alleviate his symptoms. A cup of hot water with ginger, lemon, mint and salt three times daily would do just the trick. After giving me a tour of the hotel’s kitchen, “Tulsi the teamaster” brewed one of his magic potions and soon, Wylie’s belly was happy.
We packed up and off we were again on the most bucolic mountain drive to Udaipur. We swirled through the Aravalli hills and stopped a few times upon Sono’s recommendation – once to watch the most beautiful cows till some farm soil the old-fashioned way and again, to check out a massive clan of sleeping bats hanging from a few trees off the side of the road. I have seen more animals coexist out in the wild in India than I ever have anywhere else in the world (wild cows, camels, chickens, exotic birds, goats, sheep, dogs, and now bats). India is one happening zoo without the cages. We’re all just coexisting in one natural habitat – I think the inner vegetarian in me is coming out. Have I mentioned I’ve been off all forms of meat since we got here?
As we drove into the city of Udaipur (approx. 1 million people), we began to see wealth appear around us, including the second recognizable brand I’ve seen thus far in the whole of our trip – United Colors of Benetton. Unlike the other cities we’ve been to, this one seemed much cleaner and orderly. Before entering the heart of the city, Sono dropped us off at a garden to take in the views. One of the famous kings had built this garden in the late 1700s for the royal women and their maids of honor, and since then it has been recognized as the most glamorous garden in the whole country.
Afterwards, we decided to settle for a scrappier hotel (quite literally in the same compound as a parking lot and dumpster) and splurge on a fancy dinner at Ambrai by Lake Pichola, the famous and biggest lake that runs through the city. We got our bearings and navigated our way through the narrow cobble stoned streets past shop after shop of leather bound books, silver jewelry, instruments, ayurvedic massage centers, henna stands, a plethora of hotels advertising nightly screenings of “Octopussy,” and other touristy knick knacks. We crossed a skinny bridge over the lake and into the quaint and very peaceful neighborhood of Chand Pol where all the newer more luxurious lakeside hotels and restaurants are located.
We made it to Ambrai and took in the sunset views of Lake Pichola. As the night sky emerged, the warm up-lighting revealed the glory of the City Palace across the water. I got myself an eggplant masala and Wylie ordered something super spicy with potatoes. For dessert, we had ourselves the most delicious fried dough doused in hot honey with two scoops of vanilla ice cream, otherwise known as Gulab Jamun. Holy moly, you better get your taste buds on this pronto. Seriously, it’s the best way for your taste buds (and stomach) to cut through spicy Indian food and cap off a magical evening in Udaipur.