A few years ago when I moved from Mexico City to Los Angeles, I remember someone telling me that the definition of intelligence is the capacity to adapt. I found the idea so beautiful and truthful that I adopted it as one of my mottos. It is precisly the reason why I make travelling one of my priorities. It takes you far away from your comfort zone and challenges you to figure things out no matter where you are on the map.
Remembering that L.A. lesson helped me deal with a challenge at hand: because we were sick we missed our night bus from Jodhpur to Udaipur. But we didn’t stress out – instead, we enjoyed our last night in Jodhpur taking care of each other. The next morning, we had a driver take us to our next destination.
Everything happens for a reason. Not only were we comfortable traveling by car, but another side of India was revealed as well. We saw plantations providing different kinds of produce like bananas, mustard and cauliflower. We saw shepherds leading herds of sheep, cows and goats. We saw women working in the rice fields. We also saw children walking to school in their uniforms.
A few people told us before our trip: “You will love the south of India!” We weren’t in the south yet, but it felt more tropical and even more colorful than before. If this is what awaited us as we travelled down the country, I couldn’t wait to see more.
Our driver Ratan, suggested to stop halfway to see a Jain temple called Ranakpur. It was right in the middle of our journey and after reading about it online, it was a no-brainer. It’s supposed to be the most spectacular temple of its kind (If there’s such thing as all of them are).
History says the construction was started in the 15th century by a Jain businessman from the area, after having a divine vision. The site surely seemed like it came out of a dream. The main structure rises from the slope of a hill, impressively and beautifully.
Inside, the marble carvings tell the story of the conquest of the four cardinal directions, and with it, the cosmos.
I couldn’t stop thinking, “How long did it take to carve all this!?” The answer is more than 50 years.
It made sense that it is considered one of India’s architectural wonders and we verified it ourselves.
We continued our drive not without stopping for lunch.
As we were enjoying some rice, spinach and potatoes (the only things offered on the menu we felt safe to eat while still recovering), Ashley and Alan showed up (our British friends from Pushkar). We were happy to see familiar faces. They joined us, we exchanged travel stories (including ours at the hospital) and once again, said goodbye.
It was hard to believe that our time in the Rajasthani region was coming to an end.
And what a great place as our last stop! Udaipur.
This city is known as “The Venice of the East” – at least that’s how some people call it.
Another nickname is “The City of Lakes” as it’s surrounded by water making this destination unique from other Rajasthani towns. The place is beautiful, peaceful and majestic. It was the best spot for us to finish recovering and be 100% for the rest of our trip.
After checking in at the hotel, we went for a stroll around the old city.
Udaipur is famous for being the “artsy” town of the region. The place is filled with art galleries and people selling paintings and sculptures of all sorts.
People here also seem to be very proud that the 1983 James Bond film “Octopussy” was shot here. You can see a bunch of shops and restaurants claiming they were in it.
A street led us to one of the ghats where we spontaneously found the sunset. Locals and visitors sat there, quietly, observing the city turn to night and the water changing its palatte.
When we got hungry, we walked to a restaurant that was recommended by our travel agency. It was on the rooftop of the stunning Jawat Niwas Palace hotel.
With a view of the lake and floating palaces, we ordered pasta with vegetables and lemon-ginger tea.
The next morning Matt was still feeling a bit weak so he stayed at the hotel and napped. Like in Jodhpur, he again insisted for me to go and explore some of the city.
The City Palace was a ten-minute walk from the hotel so I went there. I purchased a ticket, the audio guide and headed inside.
The audio guide had the option to choose a music track from the era (daytime or nighttime songs) as one visits parts of the complex. I picked daytime and walked around listening to the soundtrack. This elevated the experience. It transported me to a time when these rooms – now filled with tourists – were inhabited by royalty.
I liked the furniture and props that were kept in the rooms. It gave me a sense of how the different spaces looked and what it must have been like to be a maharaja.
After I was done, I met with Matt back at the hotel. He was feeling better so we went out to have some lunch and then took a boat ride around Lake Pichola, with a short stop to one of the floating palaces.
For sunset, we went back to Jawat Niwas Palace Hotel and ordered some fresh juice, while we watched the sun disappear for a second time.
We couldn’t leave Udaipur without having one last meal by the river. This time, we headed to Jheel’s Ginger Coffee Bar & Bakery, a popular spot for its good coffee and breakfast. We ordered a mushroom omelette and a Nutella and banana pancake to share.
A rickshaw picked us up to take us to the airport. Bombay was next.
More lessons learned:
– When visiting Ranakpur, make sure to get the audio guide. You will understand what everything is, instead of just walking around the temple not knowing what you are looking at.
– Rajasthan is the biggest state in India.
– Some cities in Rajasthan are color coordinated: Jodhpur is Blue, Jaipur is Pink, Udaipur is White (for the most part).