We spent the night being tossed and shaken on our sleeper train but also lulled into sleep, at least on and off through the night. The train drew in more or less on time and we held our breath that our bikes had been loaded onto the train and arrived with us. We needn’t have worried – they arrived safe and undamaged and released back into our care after David had leapt across various railway lines to the parcel office to sign his life away again.
A short ride from the station took us to a guesthouse in the heart of the tiny lanes of the old city. Feeling slightly woozy from the night we revived after having breakfast on their little roof top terrace and a hot shower. We were last here in 1988 – where we splashed out and stayed in the famous Lake Palace Hotel (featured in one of the Bond films) for 20 dollars. It is now about 600 dollars a night! We were perfectly happy this time in our little guest house which was bright and clean with a very friendly owner.
Udaipur is a beautiful city full of palaces and temples. We set out into the sunshine and strolled down to the lake then through the streets to Jagdish Temple. The streets were picturesque and atmospheric but potentially lethal as motorbikes and scooters zoomed through at tremendous speeds with little regard for pedestrians. We felt safer on the bikes!
Jagdish temple was constructed in 1651 and covered in beautiful sculptures. Inside devotees were singing loudly and playing drums in front of the black stone image of Vishnu. All very lively.
Then on to the main event of the day. The wonderful City Palace. Dating from the 15 hundreds it was added to by each subsequent Maharana of Mewar. It was full of intricate architecture, beautiful courtyards, carvings and stain glass. We took our time with an audio guide and sucked up the atmosphere. It gave us an interesting introduction to the history of Rajasthan. We know we have a feast of palaces, temples and forts coming up over the next few weeks so decided on a tactic that we would see one place well and in detail rather than try and see every ‘site’ in a town or city.
The rest of the day was spent planning out our next 3 weeks in some detail to make sure we have a ‘tour’ that gets us to Delhi at the right time. We then treated ourselves a delicious evening meal to fortify ourselves as we get back on the bikes tomorrow.