Rajasthan is what many people think of when they think of India. It is in western India and is known for its forts, palaces, wonderful temples, and amazing hotels. There is color everywhere!! You will see women in brightly colored saris, men in orange or red turbans, orange decorated trucks manufactured by TATA, small farms with women working in the fields, fruit stands at the intersections and people everywhere.
Udaipur is a “fairy-tale”city with marble palaces and lakes surrounded by a ring of hills. It was founded in 1559 and is dominated by the massive City Palace overlooking Lake Pichola. Both the City Palace and the Lake Palace Hotel are featured in the book, 1000 Places to See Before You Die.
In Udaipur and the surrounding area, make sure you see:
Kumbhalgarh Fort: This is a massive fort built in the 15th century at 3,500 ft above the border between the Marwar of Jodhpur and the Mewar of Udaipur due to its commanding view of the surrounding countryside.
Adinath Jain Temple: This is a beautiful white marble temple in Ranakpur, 56 miles northwest of Udaipur, with outstanding carvings on every surface. Jainism was founded in the 6th century BC and is based on a doctrine of non-violence towards all living beings. They are strict vegetarians. I watched the pilgrims, with many putting a sandalwood paste on the images in the temple.
City Palace: This is a huge palace on Lake Pichola which is a combination of Rajput military architecture and Mughal-style decorative techniques. It is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. Part of it is a hotel with an attractive restaurant in Durbar Hall where we ate lunch and enjoyed the great views. The palace has beautiful ceilings and courtyards. Surrounding the palace are some very nice stores carrying handicrafts of the area. I enjoyed wandering through the shops.
Rajasthan can be very magical. Along the road to Udaipur, I saw a group of men in red turbans but was unable to take a picture. After lunch I went in search of the men but saw none along the road. I walked a short distance and to my delight I saw a large group of these red turbaned sheepherders resting under the trees to escape the heat of the midday in a small farmyard. Many reclined on beds or platforms. They were dressed all in white with red turbans. Many had brown, wrinkled faces. I looked through the gate and very cordially they invited me in!