This story starts at day 3 since Rajasthan was a chapter in the middle of our trip to India and we loved to frame it exploring metropolitan Mumbai.
Our flight to Rajasthan couldn’t have been smoother and we quickly learnt that we had to hold our boarding pass at all time, that men and women proceed separately and it’s necessary to be independent along the way.
Once in Udaipur we took a taxi to the hostel and already the ride was extremely interesting, we finally saw cows just wandering around and we couldn’t ignore the massive zinc factory that employs 2.000 people in a city of 500.000.
We checked in at GoStops Udaipur and I couldn’t be happier to spend 1 hour on the rooftop enjoying the beautiful view over the Royal Palace while Sourena was catching up with some work.
The very early sunset is the only thing reminding us that winter is coming and we decided to walk around check some options for dinner to finally choose Ambrai for its outstanding view over the lake, the Palace and everything else.
After the lovely dinner we walked around the peninsula to take some photos and admire the lights on all the beautiful buildings framing the lake.
We woke up overexcited about the breakfast at the hostel and got very disappointed, so we called for a “but first coffee” and stopped at Edelweiss Café, a little place where a photo of the German owner stands proud at the entrance and we could enjoy a delicious coffee and banana bread.
From there we slowly walked uphill to reach the Jagdish Temple, a beautiful and peaceful spot in the crazy centre of Udaipur.
This was the first proper Hindu temple we ever visited and we learnt that you can tell Hindu from Jain temples by the fact that the first are heavily decorated on the outside and the second instead on the inside.
We were also shown the layers of evils, animals and humans portrayed in the marble. Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu were everywhere and the symbolism was extreme and quite confusing, plus we discovered that miniature paintings are made with brushes made of squirrel hair that falls during the monsoon season.
After explanations about art, religion and what felt like everything else we smoothly avoided buying a painting and headed to the Royal Palace.
We entered from the Badi Pole, its entrance arches, the royal square and beautiful views over the side of the city that nobody cares about.
We visited the palace without a guide and it felt like a good idea since it took 2 hours for us to just walk around and I can image we would still be there if we were following a guide. We would also know much more about it, but it’s ok like this as well.
At a certain point we realised we were hungry and picked Jagat Niwas for lunch. It was the best idea. The location of their restaurant is unbeatable and the beautifully decorated building is the perfect frame for it. Delicious food helps to have a top experience.
Very pleased with the lunch we went back to the hostel for a nap because we are not ashamed of being older than we used to be and only after we felt recharged we grabbed an undrinkable coffee and rickshaw to go to the cremation ground of Mahasatiyan.
We were the only visitors and we walked around this outstanding cemetery with the cows in the tall grass. It felt very surreal.
A local guided us around giving some unrequested information that we barely understood but still tipped at the end of the tour. The only piece of information we are confident about is that the cemetery in divided in two areas: royals and high staff members, for a total of 372 tombs.
On the way back we overlooked the Chandraprabhu Ayad Shwetambar Jain Temple and convinced our driver to stop at the Sunset Point on our way back. It was not easy.
Before going back to the hostel we gave another shot to a coffee break and Café Grasswood was the perfect place for it. Coffee was good, as well as their vegan brownie and on top of that it is a great place for people watching.
We took it very slow till dinner time. We decided to follow Zomato’s app to pick a restaurant and we were not disappointed.
We choose Tribute, a restaurant a bit outside the centre, still very close, but in a completely residential area. It was a nice change and a lucky shot as we walked passed a wedding reception and got invited to join. We felt slightly out of place but at the same time glad to be part of it. We were shown the gift, introduced to the father of the bride and fed sweets in what felt like the standard order of priorities.
Only after that we were allowed to leave and enjoy our dinner.
We thought about stopping on the way back as we had officially promised, but decided to go back and sleep early in preparation for the sunrise yoga session planned for the day after.
We had set the alarm for 6:40 to meet our yoga teacher for a private class at the Shri Sita Ragunathi Temple. I had fallen in love with this place immediately, it was the first place I noticed just a couple of steps from our hostel and I felt it had something special. When I discovered that yoga practices were held there I was determined to make it happen.
We woke up early and met Seethu at this amazing location and it was perfect: the sun rising from the city, the gentle and energising yoga, the music coming from the temple and the expert approach of our teacher.
After our yoga session we went to change and had breakfast at a nearby café called Jhul’s. We had pancakes, muesli and eggs and ordered sandwiches and cake for the long ride to Jodhpur.
Our driver was waiting for us right in front of the hostel and we left for a day trip through rural Rajasthan.
We had agreed with him to stop at the Kumbhalgarh Fort and the Ranakpur Jain Temple and the journey turned out to be longer than expected: very few streets fall in the highway category and in any case it feel like there are no rules for the traffic, the tiny villages along the way are dense of people and holy cows and it’s easy to find any other random animal walking undisturbed in the middle of the street.
So all in all we could only move very slowly and when we finally arrived at the fort it was a relief.
We arrived with the idea of staying few, but ended up spending two full hours exploring it.
This Kumbhalgarh Fort has the second longest wall after the Great Wall of China and it is amazing. The surrounding nature, the colors, the temples and the size of the whole complex are outstanding.
We told our driver we were ready to move to the next location and shared some food with him as well.
Writing about having a driver makes me feel like a rich princess, but in India it’s not such a ridiculous thing, for a full day of service, including fuel, taxes and tolls we paid 4.200rupees, more or less 50 euros.
The second part of the trip was easier to handle and it felt like we arrived quite quickly at the temple. We could start exploring only after an annoying “admission is free, but foreign tourists are obliged to get an audioguide for 600rupees”.
It is truly beautiful and well-kept with its interior décor and 1444 columns, but the organization around it is the least friendly. A priest forced us to tip his prayer for us and the list of rules at the entrance is much longer than you wish it to be.
During the visit we met many school groups of girls and they were all very curious to know more about us and ultimately tried to swap clothes with me.
We still had quite a drive till Jodhpur so we kept on moving and slowly it started getting dark.
We drove for a total of 6 hours in poverty and simplicity so arriving in a big city felt alien, even more since we were staying at a luxury hotel in the heart of it.
We had booked a double room overlooking the fort and it surely had some wow factor to it. Raas is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, designed in full respect of the original architecture with a modern twist and with careful attention to the details and to great service.
After days at a hostel this was the best treat we could give ourselves.
We took a perfect shower, changed in clean clothes and headed out to feel a bit the city and have some food.
Arriving by car we were amazed by the square around the Clocktower so we went back to see more.
We had read about a place called Nirvana Café and decided it was a good option for dinner. When we arrived it was completely empty and we started doubting the decision but it was late and staid anyway and it turned out to be the best food we had in the whole trip.
We started the day with a dive at the pool and it became immediately clear that we had a mission for the day: to explore the city as quickly as possible and come back to that perfect oasis.
After an amazing breakfast, we followed the shortest and steepest path to the Mehrangarh Fortress and it felt like a proper work out, the amazing view from the top was a nice price at the end.
We bought tickets to the museums and we ended up spending a couple of hours just staring at the views and the details of the buildings.
We ventured to the areas with fewer tourists and exited the fort from a different gate and found ourselves exactly where we wanted to be: the blue city. Jodhpur is rightly famous for it.
We walked through the blue streets of the old town towards the Stepwell, getting lost along the way and fascinated by the crowd. When we finally arrived, I was quite disappointed. The overpowering smell of putrid water was too much to handle and we went to hide in the Stepwell Café where we could still enjoy the view, but at safe distance. The beautiful interiors convinced us to stay and we felt ready to venture for a fresh salad and a calzone. Just because. They were delicious and our stomachs survived even this test.
Since it was a bit too early to just head to the pool we decided to visit the Jaswant Thada, a monumental palace overlooking the city and completely made of marble. It’s smaller than I expected and the contrast of the white marble with the desertic landscape makes it very fascinating.
Satisfied with the day, we felt like we deserved to chill so we went back to Raas by rickshaw, got spots by the pool, enjoyed the frozen coconut water and mint complementary treat and kept on enjoying the rest of the afternoon between sun, shadow and water.
The only challenge at that point was to find a place for dinner and at the end we decided to postpone the decision by having cocktails first at the rooftop bar of the hotel.
A bit tipsy and in a good mood, we went to the Namaste Café, a little place just around the corner.
Almost every restaurant in the city offers a rooftop to enjoy the Fortress at night and while waiting for the food we got entertained by the music that was playing for the whole city from a wedding venue at the base of the hill. We were so confused and amazed, that’s all we could speak about during the whole dinner.
By the end of another tasty, yet light, dinner we decided to check the shops at the Clocktower. We almost bought a carpet but instead decided that we could just head back and chill at the lounge of the hotel and go to sleep.
Since we had a flight 14:00, we managed to follow the perfect morning plan: do some yoga, have a delicious breakfast, do some targeted shopping and enjoy the pool till check out at 12:00. It was amazing.
I think I never flew so relaxed. We didn’t even stress out when the police stopped us on the way to the airport because our driver didn’t wear a taxi driver uniform and we had to wait for the report to be filed.
We just kept on enjoying the city moving chaotically around us, again at the Clocktower square.
We also didn’t know that we were heading to the cutest airport ever, not bigger than a big living room and closer to a bus terminal than an airport, it was the perfect place to summarize all the good memories and get excited for our friends’ wedding reception back in Mumbai.