From Udaipur with Love

I was childishly excited to arrive in Udaipur. So much so that I briefly considered getting a safari suit tailored so i could run around its narrow streets like a girl Sir Roger. Octopussy was largely filmed here and, while this era of the Bond franchise feels more dated (and comical) than others, it's the Bond of my tentative years and so retains a distinct fondness in my heart. Don't get me wrong though, Connery IS Bond and my fave Bond film is, controversially, On Her Majesty's Secret Service (yes the one with Lazenby), but for these few days Roger the Dodger is King.

Duncan Bond, about to storm the Lake Palace
On our first night in town we found ourselves sitting on a rooftop, drinking contraband beer out of a teapot and watching Octopussy on an old telly. It was a total tourist cliche, half the restaurants in town had a 7pm showing of the film to encourage you to part with your rupees, and we were only too happy to oblige on this occasion. And fun it was too... it's rare you can watch a film and be able to see its key locations, many of which we had visited earlier that day, from the comfort of your (uncomfortable) chair.

City Palace
Lake Palace
Lake Garden Palace
Udaipur is set around the picturesque Lake Pichola and is home to the famous Lake Palace on Jagniwas Island, the Lake Garden Palace on Jagmandir Island, the City Palace and the Monsoon Palace... all of which, you'll be delighted to hear, featured in a certain Bond film.

Bond Girl Jo, about to storm the Monsoon Palace
View from the Monsoon Palace, with bonus Monkey
It's also home to the Nukkad Guest House where we whiled away a very leisurely week or so, taking our foot off the travelling pedal a little after a busy month exploring Rajasthan. It was a pleasant place to stay with the kind owner Raju doing his best to please, despite being overworked and understaffed. We suspect he was a bit too tight to employ/pay any staff so he relied solely on his family, including his newly acquired daughter-in-law, to do all the chores.

Sunset vew from our guest house
Raju's wife also gave cooking classes so we excitedly signed ourselves up and fasted a little (well we skipped lunch) to create a bit of space for the feast that we expected to follow. We learnt how to make six classic Indian dishes, which was nice, but it would have been a lot better if our teacher had been able to crack a smile or show any enthusiasm in what she was making... and if the resulting food that we had seen being cooked hadn't made us both ill. Thankfully not THAT ill though, and it gave us an excuse to stay in bed all the following day watching back to back episodes of Breaking Bad. Silver linings...

License to ill
Udaipur probably had enough different locations to view the sunset from to fill our week. Twice over. As it was, we watched the sun descend the clear azure sky and disappear behind the Aravalli Hills whilst boating across the lake, from the top of a cable car, from the (sadly delapitated) Monsoon Palace and from a selection of 'sunset view' cafes (particularly the ones with good coffee and wifi).

Sunset #1: from a boat on the lake
Sunset #2: from atop the Cable Car
Sunset #3: from the Monsoon Palace
Sunset #4: from a cafe with great coffee & decent wifi
At a nearby Haveli we spent a pleasant hour watching a traditional Rajasthani folk dance and music show...

And we also hired a driver for a day to visit a massive fort at Kumbhalgarh and the Jain Temples at Ranakpur. While undeniably impressive, we reckon you've read enough about such things already... and, as incredibly spoilt as it might sound, so have we. Here are some photos though...

Kumbhalgarh Fort, with the 2nd longest wall in the world after the Great Wall of China
Ranakpur - a small selection of the 1,444 intricately-carved marble columns, and a marble elephant for good luck
James Bond will won't return in the next blog post Bundi-ful...


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