Udaipur is lovely. Nestled in a basin in the hills, the town is set around a series of lovely lakes, some of which are man made. After a week or so in desert country, its been lovely to reach a place where water runs freely. Centuries ago the lakes were drained at various times to allow the building of the palaces in them. Now these islands house grand heritage hotels.
The palace, situated on the shores of the lake, is enormous. The original structure has been divided into four parts - two of which are occupied by hotels, the third used by the royal family, and the fourth, which we visited, is open to the public.
I got side tracked from all the historical architecture when I caught sight of the guard's horses. Well known for the distinctive inward curve to their ears, these are magnificent animals. I hadn't realised how big they were, standing at least 16.2 - 17hh. I had imagined them smaller and finer. Apparently the Maharajah has a breeding programme and produces some fine stock. I was amused to see two were skewbald. Maybe Bandit has a new career ahead of him.
After the palace we cruised the lake, and stopped for morning tea on one of the islands. Later we toured an art studio which specialises in the art of punctillo. This technique is of ancient origin and used in the paintings throughout the palace. Many of them tell specific stories of events in the royal court. Most revered is a white stallion who, although badly wounded himself, saved his master from death in battle. An enormous painting, with a cast of thousands of warriors, tells the story. A statue to this animal stands at a roundabout in Udaipur itself.
We rounded out the day with a visit to the local folk art museum and a puppet show. Tomorrow we fly out of Rajasthan and continue our journey in southern India. I can't recommend this trip highly enough. Every single day has been exciting and rewarding. The food has been of high quality and I've over indulged. A diet lies in my future.
The palace guard
The palace by the lake
Horses going to the mews
Honour guard off duty
View from the palace over Udaipur
Hotel on an island in the lake, made famous in Octopussy
Another island on the lake
The pigeon is not impressed
Keeping India green
Diorama at the folk museum
The folk museum