After a lovely meal last night overlooking the lake, we were up early this morning and onto the ferry over to the landing stage. We were met by Vikram and our guide for the morning, Chadhra. Clearly one of the warrior caste, but with a great sense of humour, and excellent English, without ever having been to the UK.
He explained that Udaipur has a population of over half a million, based upon the precious metals, granites and marbles of the region, but that tourism is now the biggest industry following the filming of The Jewel In The Crown for TV and of Octopussy, the James Bond movie. Now all the worlds great stars come here to be married, or to entertain the others at the weddings. Madonna, Lady Gaga and Lionel Ritchie recently. And today at our hotel, the president of the Maldives ( not Moldova! ). Boy do these guys travel in style! What an entourage.
Anyway, Chadhra took us to the King’s Palace, his museums and gardens, and got us in before the general opening, which was a stampede! And it was amazing. The oldest monarchy in descendants in the world – over 70 consecutive monarchs. Needless to say, a humble abode!
The melange of architectural styles is fabulous, from Moghul, Arabic, European etc, and the use of glass and mirrors is truly stunning. Then onto a temple, which was very interesting, but no photos allowed. Because the King’s son is getting married here later this month, everyone is practising their singing and dancing, and it actually seems very similar to Native American Indian culture.
And I’ve made up the ceilidh band with the Indian squeeze box – bellows and keyboard, but very different design – called a melodian, I think!
We had a great time driving around Udaipur, and then walking back to the hotel through the old town. You can see why they like you to arrive by their boats on the lake!!