A Visit to Rajasthan
India is a fantastic place to visit and has some of the most famous sights and tourist attractions in the world. I worked in the country for a few years, between 2000 and 2004 and this afforded me the opportunity to view some of the sights and visit some great destinations in the country. The office I was based in for most of my time in India was in Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat and one of the places I had considered visiting was Rajasthan, which is the state to the north of Gujarat.
When you hire a car in India it generally comes with a driver and as luck would have it the works driver we had came from a small village in Rajhastan, so myself and a colleague arranged for him to take us to Udaipur for the weekend. This benefited us all as our driver got to visit his family and my colleague and I got to spend some time looking around Udaipur and seeing the sights of Rajhastan.
We travelled up on the Friday night after work and it took around 5 hours to get there and we eventually arrived in Udaipur around 11.00pm. We hadn’t arranged any hotels so the first thing we did was try to find one. Our driver said he knew of a good hotel and took us to see it. It turned out this hotel had been one of the local Maharajas palaces and it still retained many of the original features. So for our first night in Rajasthan we slept in style in four poster beds, surrounded by ornate furniture and artwork. It was an excellent introduction to Udaipur and the next morning our driver headed of to see his family and my colleague and I set off to explore.
We decided first to have a walk around and see what sights we could see. The first thing we saw on leaving the hotel was an elephant available for rides but decided to have a look first and come back later for an elephant ride. On our walk we saw Pichola Lake and the famous Lake Palace hotel which is one of the best sights in Udaipur. Following this we decided to go back and have an elephant ride. The owner invited us to have some tea with him, which we duly did. As is the case with a lot of the local Indian tea was extremely sweet and milky and while drinking it the elephant decided it was time for a toilet break. I was pretty close to being covered with elephant pee and was informed by the owner that it is considered lucky if the pee hits you. Not sure about that, but I will take his word for it. Unfortunately the elephant ride took exactly the same route we had walked, but never the less was an incredible experience.
Having seen the Lake Palace Hotel, we decided to have lunch there and got the boat over to it. Following lunch we decided to check out the room rates and, even though it was quite expensive, decided we could not pass on the chance to spend a night there. The hotel is fantastic and the rooms and other areas are magnificently decorated. We had found a rickshaw driver to help us move our bags to the lake palace and arranged for him to come back a 6.00pm so he could take us to a restaurant for an evening meal. Just before 6.00 we got in the boat to go across to the shore only to find out, the boat we had got on was actually going to tour the lake. The tour lasted about 45 minutes and I have to commend the rickshaw driver because he did wait for us and took us to an excellent restaurant.
The following day our driver returned and we went with him to his village to meet his family. According to him we were only the second westerns to visit this village in living memory. We got a tour of the village during which a crowd of the locals followed our every move and we were introduced to many people before we left we had a meal with the driver and his family. During the trip to the village and afterwards on our way back to Ahmedabad we got to see some of the Rajasthan scenery, a lot of which is desert and we saw quite a few camel herds.
All in all it was an excellent weekend and we got to see the sights of Udaipur and experience a bit of local Rajasthan life in our driver’s village. It’s a fantastic place to visit and I would certainly urge anyone who gets the chance to take it.