Venturing out further: Udaipur
After sightseeing in Mumbai, a weekend getaway in Lonavola and a work trip to Delhi, we wanted something even more adventurous for our Diwali break. We settled on Udaipur.
What pur? There are lots of them (“pur” means city, or settlement) in India and I’d never heard of this one, but apparently it’s one of the top places to visit in India, especially if you’re looking for romance. There are palaces, lakes, and palaces in lakes. It’s in a state called Rajastan, between Mumbai and New Delhi.
Rajastan is the former Mewari (or "Marwari") Kingdom known, among other things, for its horses. Mewari horses are a rare breed and have curvy ears that can twist almost 180 degrees. India doesn’t allow them to be exported for fear of losing all the good DNA to wealthy foreigners. Not even Jennifer Lopez got to take one home, even though she apparently really wanted to.
We stayed at a ranch filled with Mewari horses, from newborns to big stallions, which the kids loved to feed, pet, and ride. Though few of them actually allow kids to sit on their backs these days because they lost the routine during COVID and need to be retrained.
Udaipur is known as the city of lakes. One of the main attractions is taking a boat ride to the little islands, which have surprisingly elegant structures on them—some even palaces. Another key feature of the city is the towering palace sitting on top of the hill in the (tourist) city center. It’s an endless series of rooms with few treasures in them but plenty of history and great views.
There’s also lots of great shopping in Udaipur, but it gets overwhelming quickly. On the first day we bought an incredible painting made with only one hair, on cloth. The artist demonstrated it to us by drawing on my daughter's nail and we got so enthusiastic we bought his most popular painting, which takes him months to produce. The next day we bought a few accessories like bangles and scarves, but then we were done. Unfortunately shopkeepers kept trying to draw us into their stores and we kept having to say no. We did visit a giant store called Ganesh Emporium, where many celebs have shopped, but it was far too much to take in. There were many beautiful things I was interested in, but there was just so much I couldn't focus.
We spent five days in Udaipur and mostly stayed on Krishna Ranch, recharging after two busy months in Mumbai. Life gets hectic here! The ranch owner took us on a four-hour hike through the hills. I tried fresh water chestnuts, which are delicious, we ate lots of rice and dal with chapatis, and simply enjoyed the peace and quiet of the idyllic farm, the horses, a free roaming goat and some very noisy wild peacocks.
I also loved that the ranch owner's wife is Dutch. Given my own Dutch background it makes me feel more confident about staying at a place that’s a bit off the beaten path. Plus I get to meet other Dutch people that way!