City Palace, Udaipur is a beautiful place, only I had just enough time to run through it. The thing that amazed me was the camera fee of 200 Indian rupees. I know the SLR toting (myself included) crowd may not mind it. But 200 rupees even if you wanted to use a cell phone camera did feel steep. This is the highest amount for a camera fee that I have encountered. For me the entry and the camera fee was taken care by The Rajputana who invited me to Udaipur.
The construction palace was started by the Maharana Udai Singh and many other kings over the years. I actually attended a session by Maharaja Arvind Singh of Udaipur where he mentioned that the Lake Palace used to be his summer home! ! But without much ado and detours let me present a photo feature of the City Palace, Udaipur, which is what I wanted to do from the beginning.
As far as I could figure out the tour could be done only in one way, which is a good thing for me, I don’t need much to get lost. But as I said I did a hurried trip and I could actually be wrong. I just kept following the signs and I got out of the place safe and sound. The stairs were the entry point for me into the palace.
To me the Sheesh Mahal was the grandest room of them all. I wonder what was it used for originally? Was it used for meetings and gatherings on special occasions, I wonder. There was an audio guide available, I paused around it but I knew I simply didn’t have time to do any justice to it if I hired one.
There are many spots within the palace which give a fabulous view of the Udaipur city. But then why would I expect any less, after all this a place fit for kings and queens!
I really like the use of colored glass in Rajasthani palaces. Hawa Mahal, Jaipur also has many such nooks and corners. I also feel a lot of such features had practical use as well. I wonder if these glasses were better at keeping the sun out? Now if only they would let me sit down with a book in a corner somewhere along this passage!
Whenever I look at such long passages, me of the 2-3 bedroom drawing dining mentality, end up thinking how my whole home would fit in many times over in this corridor itself!
I wonder if this is what is meant by wearing rose tint glasses? It, for sure, makes the view much more soothing to look at, even when the sun was harsh! But then what would I know, I hardly ever get to see the world through rose tint glasses, or do I actually get to do so sometimes?
The security personnel encouraged me to visit this section of the palace, as I was rushing out. You see, even by mistake I would not like to be left inside this vast palace. I am sure the resident ghosts must be coming out after the closing time to conduct their daily affairs! But I am glad I heeded to the advice as the section had a lot of silverware and beauties like this palki. However, after that I had only one thought, and it was to get out before the doors closed!
I paused again only when I was safely in the outer courtyard where vivid paintings graced the walls. I know this is not how a history blog post should be written. But this is how I felt about the place and it is the only way I know to write!
I was attending a one-day conference organized by my institute at The Radisson, Delhi. A speaker was talking about the HRH group of hotels (Historic Resort Hotels). It usually takes me a minute or two to pay real attention to a presentation. I was not in that frame of mind yet.
Suddenly I heard the words, “When my father decided to convert it into a hotel, all the family members were opposed to the idea, including myself. You see The Lake Palace, Udaipur used to be our summer home.”
Forget about getting attentive, I nearly fell off my chair after hearing this. It has never crossed my mind that the Lake Palace could be someone’s summer home! The speaker was the Maharaja Arvind Singh of Mewar.
After listening to his talk, I was wondering if they monitor what is written about them on the net? I had this vague idea about reading something about bird droppings and ants in a balcony of the Lake Palace Hotel room! But how do you tell this to a Maharaja?
During the lunch, I dared to approach him and said, “Can I ask you a question?” Standard procedure of breaking ice during a conference with a speaker, only I had never done it with some who has Maharaja attached to his name (though he uses the title of Mewar and not Maharaja). He was gracious enough and said yes. So I tried to keep a neutral territory and inquired if they monitor the web and keep a tab of what their customers say about their stay at the various properties owned by them? He replied that they have a website and I could find a lot of information there! I tried again, and said these days many people search the net before planning a trip and many people write about their experiences at various places, a lot of information can come up in these searches. While I was trying to explain this to him in some detail with examples, he suddenly said, “I cannot eat standing, why don’t we go inside the conference hall and continue this talk there?”
So a few minutes later, the Maharaja with a small portion of boiled food on his plate and me with a soup, occupied a table. There were two other people with us and I think they worked with him.
We did a bit of small talk, where I told him I am a hard core budget traveler and though I have been to Udaipur, I do not even dream of staying in the Lake Palace. He added that all kind of travelers have a place in Udaipur and even the hippies are good for the economy. I was wondering if he kept me in that category! Because if he did, it is funny even to try and imagine myself as a hippie! But I did not press the point.
Gradually, I mentioned having read about ants (could not bring the bird dropping part) in the hotel room and the need in today’s world to keep a tab about what is written about a company on the web in general. He became thoughtful and then added; “Maybe my managers block some feedback.” He added to the lady in his group, “We probably need to open a web based feedback from our customers but the problem is if we get to know about it after they have left, we cannot do anything about it.” Then he turned to me and said, “Why don’t you send the links to me that you are talking about and send it directly to me.” I added in a low voice, “In that case, I need your email address.” He took out his card and wrote his email and phone number on it.His card has three lines:
Arvind Singh Mewar
Soon our head of school for the Bengal campus joined the group and we chitchatted about tourism in general. Then I took their leave to grab some food before another session of the conference started.
PS. I have sent the links to him but I wonder if I will ever get a reply?
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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