Friday, February 20, 2015

Udaipur


The Lake Palace Hotel, Udaipur
Udaipur - a dream city built around a number of artificial lakes, with a dream hotel, the Lake Palace seemingly 'floating' in the middle of Lake Pichola (it's actually built on an island.) We were greeted (and security checked) on shore and handed to a canopied craft to take us to the hotel. There we were greeted by a distinguished man with a luxurious moustache to escort us to the hotel under a highly decorated Indian umbrella.
As we walked to the front door, I was showered with sweetly-swelling rose petals. This happened at the Rambaugh Palace in Jaipur, another Taj hotel, so perhaps this is standard for their properties. Despite its staginess, I loved it; I laughingly protested once when leaving that I hadn't got the full treatment on the way out, and the imposing gentlemen rushed to my side with the umbrella ever afterward.

Lake Pichola was full, due to this year's spectacularly good monsoon. As little as two years ago, due to several years of bad monsoons, the lake was completely empty. It would have been a crashing disappointment to arrive at this fabled locale to find the lake not there. Our room had a lovely oriel window, with comfortable cushions - I called it 'my' window although we did fit in two people at times - which overhung the lake and was a beguiling place to loll in comfort gazing over the lake at the main palace.

Udaipur Palace
The Maharanas of Udaipur built several beautiful palaces here. Their main palace is the second biggest palace in India. Part of it is now a museum, part a hotel and the newest part is the residence of the current Maharana. Its massive presence dominated the shoreline view from the hotel. I have included some pictures of pretty parts of the palace.

The Lake Palace was once the Summer Palace. Though just a couple of minutes boat ride from the shore, it picked up cooler winds in the summer heat. And at the crest of a nearby hill, we could see the Monsoon Palace, more comfortable during the rainy season, pictured at left.

On our boat trip around the lake, we made a stop to tour the so-called Party Palace, the scene of special receptions and parties in the old days. The current Maharana is a consummate businessman and now runs this as a hotel, and also rents it out for parties and weddings. Apparently Bollywood stars like to fly in for special occasions here.

As the room key is put in the slot on arrival (like European hotels, indian hotels sensibly turn off the power when you're out of the room and putting the key into the slot signifies you're 'home'), the TV automatically starts running a video and the sonorous voice of a stately man with a full beard and mustache greets you. It is the current Maharana welcoming you and describing his hotels under Taj management along with a bit about their history and background.

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