Before I begin, I really want to tell you that this post about Udaipur was my first travel blog ever, and marked the beginning of my journey as a travel blogger.
I normally spend my weekends either exploring a nearby travel destination or chilling at my pleasant little apartment in Gurgaon. It was one of the cosy Saturday afternoons of December’18 when I chose to pamper myself by not stepping out of the blanket much. At such occasions, Netflix proves out to be the best companion, indeed. It has some great content that can help you make the most of your solitude during weekends, but for a person who has a bit of penchant for travelling, it has some superb travel shows too. An hour or so into watching ‘The Luxury Travel Show’, I observed that although my eyes were constantly gawking the screen, I could not help think constantly about one of the most luxurious trips I had last year. Udaipur! And I found myself typing this travel blog in the next 15 minutes.
It was one of the days in April 2017 when I received an invitation to attend one of the most luxurious destination weddings of the year as a blogger in one of the most astounding wedding destinations in India, the city of lakes: Udaipur. Varun Chaudhary, the younger son of Nepalese billionaire Binod Chaudhary had decided to tie the knot with Anushree Tongya, the lovely daughter of Jaipur-based businessman Rajkumar Tongya and I could not feel any less excited to attend the wedding of the year. Thanks to the occasion and my fortune that I got to observe the land of royals through the lens of luxury and regalia.
Nestled in the largest state of India, Rajasthan or the land of kings, Udaipur boasts of lovely and whimsical landscapes of beautiful lakes mollycoddled between the hills of the south slope of Aravali range. Although it is said that the best time to visit the city is during the winter months, April wasn’t bad. As far as I could recall my previous visits to the city, the winter months were definitely breathtaking. The city is well connected to New Delhi, via a flight. Catching an early morning flight from Delhi, I reached my hotel in Udaipur just on time. My stay was successfully managed at in a luxurious room at Hotel Lakend that overlooked the beautiful sight of Lake Fatehsagar disappearing into the horizon at its furthermost stretch from where small hills stood as the guards of the city. The hotel is my personal recommendation for anyone who wishes to relax and unwind. If the view and the location aren’t relaxing enough for you, the hotel boasts of an amazing pool, which is set right opposite to the lake. Apart from that, you can always get yourself pampered in the spa in the hotel.
The schedule of the wedding functions was orchestrated in such a way that the guests get to visit all the major spots of the city. To start with, on the very first day, the brunch was arranged at the iconic Taj Lake Palace, where the guests were supposed to extend the pre-wedding blessings to the couple, followed by a small sightseeing tour of the city. Settled in a small island almost at the centre of Lake Pichola, Taj Lake Palace is a heritage property owned and managed by Taj Group of Hotels. It is accessible via jetty (a small motorboat) from Badipal Guest Jetty centres situated at the nearest bank of the lake.
Upon reaching there, I was a tad more than just mesmerised seeing the beautiful kaleidoscopic opulence of the palace. It was shining like the brightest penny in the world. It glistened with pride while welcoming the guests. The fusion of Indian music with Chicago jazz played by some of the most talented artists was indeed something that one doesn’t get to encounter every day. The mellifluous tunes of the music, sweeping across the long hallways of the palace were indeed spellbinding. It’s an experience that is recommended for every person who ever visits Udaipur for a taste of luxury.
Soon after lunch at my hotel, I strolled through the narrow lanes alongside the lake, to finally reach a highly chaotic market right outside the City Palace. Since it was almost nearing sunset, the palace was reserved in my travel list for the following day. For the remaining part of the day, the busy marketplace helped me utilise my time.
A well-planned and guided tour of the City Palace starting early in the morning lasted for almost 2-3 hours. If you have a propensity towards exploring royalty that India held, this tour would place you closest to the luxurious lens, which the ancient rulers of the city used to see their lives through. It seems that one is taking a walk through the rich history that the Mewar region has to boast of, almost like living inside the recently appreciated mindset of Bollywood director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali. One definitely needs to pay a visit to the palace if one wishes to stand face-to-face with the history of one of the most prosperous kingdoms of ancient India. The view of Lake Pichola from the small windows and large jharokhas of the palace can put some of the best sights of the world to shame.
Following the schedule of the wedding functions, the guests were invited to an extravagant cocktail party at The Leela Palace. The lake-side hotel has been beautifully architectured with the design communion of palatial regalia and modern hedonism. One can reach the hotel after taking a short scenic boat ride in a traditionally embellished boat, cherishing the unparalleled sights of the Lake Pichola and the Aravalis. The party was at Sheesh Mahal, an open-air area that overlooked the gold-glistening magnificent view of the City Palace and the majestic tunes of Rajasthani Folk music greeted the guests in the most Rajasthani way.
I spent the early hours of the next day morning exploring the hotel. It was supposed to be a long day as the schedule suggested. The Mehandi function was scheduled for the day at the Oberoi Udaivilas, culminating at a gala dinner and music-night at the entrance garden of the city palace. I am sure the mention of Oberoi Udaivilas would ring some bells in the minds of people who follow Bollywood. As you would be able to recall, that’s where Aditi (Kalki’s character) in Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani got married. The hotel was extravagantly ornamented with flowers and the most artistic decorations. The floral fragrances from the paradise seemed to have descended down the Earth to impart their divine freshness to the sun-kissed Udaivilas.
The series of functions culminated into the union of two souls on the last day of my visit at Jagmandir Island Palace, which seemed to be garbed in the most exquisitely beautiful ethnic attire, complementing the vibe of the wedding.
Not to mention that observing the city of lakes through the lens of regalia is, in a way, a dream come true, a tick-mark in the bucket list. It seems that somewhere in between the walls of the city palace, the lofty hills and the calm waters of the lake my soul has been trapped to such an extent that till date I can hear it calling in spite of the loud chaotic routine of my corporate life. Intending on catering to this call sometime soon.
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