|Square and temple outside the City Palace in Udaipur|
10am start today, just as well! Still tingling a little bit, and Madan is also not quite 100%. We have half a day before we need to be back at the airport for our flight to Delhi. More than enough time to sightsee the City Palace.
We drive through the narrow winding streets of the old city quarter. Even early(ish) in the morning there is a good deal of hustle and bustle, shops and stalls selling wares, scooters and bikes darting everywhere. Just outside the city palace is another temple (Jagdish Mandir?) It’s at one side of a small triangular square. We also see one or two elephants, for tourist rides around the quarter. The temple itself is not all that remarkable. Well, if you’ve seen one, or more than one!, you tend to think “another temple”.
Through the palace gate, just up the road from the temple. It feels hot today. The heat and remaining effects of the bang lassi make me break into sweat as soon as we climb the steps into the palace.
The palace is a collection of large and small courtyards, rooms decorated with mosaics done in coloured glass, overlooking the lake or the city. Madan takes us from one room to the next. Some rooms have decorations, furniture, pictures of the various maharanas, and there are many miniature (as in detailed, not the canvas size, which can be very large) paintings of various battles, hunting scenes, etc.
Outside Madan steers us into the Kashmiri emporium, acting on my suggestion that we go and have a cup of tea somewhere! We’re offered tea and Ness is in pashmina-buying mode so leave her to it while I drink tea and smoke. Four pashminas later, £95 poorer, we walk out, promptly guided into the next shop, where we don’t buy anything.
Our morning sightseeing is over and it’s time to settle the bill at the TCI office. With the usual Indian efficient bureaucracy this is done in a jiffy, i.e. only about half an hour to pay a Rs.2050 (£not v.much) bill! We say bye to Madan. He tells us we have brought him good luck as he has just been booked for a number of groups between July and September, when he would not expect to have much/any work.
Rattan and the TCI rep drive us to the airport. A final farewell to Rattan also and then we go through the various formalities for the flight to Delhi. It’s a Jet airways flight, a better standard than Indian Airways by some margin. Good seats, good food (I have Nessie’s portion, Ness still feeling delicate). At Delhi airport we are met by the TCI guy who met us first time round. Our hotel is not far from the airport, convenient for an early start tomorrow morning. The roads are busy and congested, the hazy smog blankets the city. A giant statue of a god (Shiva?) en route, picture tomorrow.
View over Udaipur
The hotel, the grandly named Ashok Country Resort, is a simple affair. Whilst our room does have a double bed, it has no windows and feels like a tomb. It is changed for a room with windows but unfortunately no double bed, just two singles this time. Mattresses and beds feel comfortable. We should be in for a good night’s sleep. I go in search of a beer and end up parking myself in the restaurant and catch up on diary up to end of yesterday. It is not allowed to drink alcohol in the lobby as this is a public area, and the swimming pool (outside) is too dark and far away. Later I go back to find Ness and we go to have dinner in the restaurant. By this stage the hotel lobby has a large group of… wait for it… Dutch tourists, aargh! It doesn’t bother us and we have a relaxed dinner, read each other’s diaries for the first time and have an early-ish night.