August 31, 2014

My TripAdvisor Review No.54: Gulab Bagh (Sajjan Niwas Garden), Udaipur

“Good for an Outing with the Kids”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 29 August 2014 NEW
This is a large garden situated immediately below the embankment of Pichola Lake. It is more commonly known as ‘Gulab Bagh’ because a small part of the garden is dedicated to growing roses (gulab). The gardens were laid out by Maharana Sajjan Singh in the 19th century.

There is a small zoo and a toy train running around the periphery, hence it is an ideal outing with your little kids. We were more fascinated by the numerous squirrels playing around and feeding at our feet.

‘Victoria Hall’ is a building in the garden which houses a reading room and library. The vast open gardens, huge trees and shady pathways make these gardens an ideal place for a peaceful morning and evening walk as well.
Visited July 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

August 28, 2014

My TripAdvisor Review No.53: Haldighati, near Nathdwara, Mewar district

“Ground Zero of a Famous Battle”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 28 August 2014 NEW
Who has not heard about the famous and fierce battle between the forces of Maharana Pratap of Mewar and the Mughal Emperor Akbar, fought in the year 1576? It was fought here at Haldi Ghati (turmeric coloured hill), about 40 km north of Udaipur.

There is a museum depicting the events in the battle, and some events in Pratap's life. A documentary film is shown, as well as a light and sound show of the battle. There is a small lake with paddle boating facility which children can enjoy, and a restaurant serving a traditional Indian meal. One can also buy gulkand (rose jam) and rose water, which is produced locally here.

Rana Pratap’s horse Chetak sacrificed his life to save his master. A memorial has been built at the spot where the horse died, and it is known as ‘Chetak Smarak’. It is about 2 km from the museum.
Visited July 2014
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August 26, 2014

My TripAdvisor Review No.52: Falcon Tours and Travels, Udaipur

“Efficient and Timely Service”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 25 August 2014 NEW
I had contacted Falcon Tours and Travels online before leaving for Udaipur from Pune. They took a few days to reply to my email, by which time I had already booked the first leg of my trip from Falna to Kumbhalgarh. However we needed a cab service on our last day in Udaipur. Our check-out was at 11 am and our train departed at 9.30 pm. So we needed a cab for a day of sight-seeing after check-out and the hotel travel desk was quoting an exorbitant rate.

I called Falcon Travels the night before check-out and Karan sent the cab and driver details by sms within the hour. Next day the Tata Indigo arrived on time, chauffeured by Firoj Khan. Firoj was polite and courteous and drove us around Udaipur. He showed us to good restaurant where we had lunch. He waited patiently while we had an early dinner at Nataraj Dining Hall, just half a km from the Railway station, and dropped us off at the station at 8.30 pm.

While we were sight-seeing our luggage was secure in the cab and we could move around without having to worry about it. We paid him Rs.1800 for the day trip.
Visited July 2014
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August 25, 2014

My TripAdvisor Review No.51: City Palace of Udaipur

“Centre of Attraction in Udaipur”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 24 August 2014 NEW
For anyone visiting Udaipur, the City Palace, situated on the eastern banks of Lake Pichola, is a must see. It is a huge conglomeration of palaces built over 400 years. Its construction was started by Maharana Udai Singh in the 16th century and further additions were made by other Rajput maharajas of the Sisodia clan.

You have to purchase tickets to enter the palace complex. The damages are Rs.115 per adult and Rs.250 if you want to click photos. Guides can be hired between Rs.200 to Rs.250. There are separate charges of Rs.550 if you want to visit the crystal gallery.

This palace has a unique architecture, with jharokhas, courtyards, balconies, cupolas, columns and towers. It is supposedly one of the biggest palaces in India. You have to be prepared to spend at least 2 hours if you really want to explore all the rooms, passages, terraces, patios and apartments. You literally have to squeeze through some of the narrow staircases. There are fascinating exhibits, wall paintings, murals, silver work, inlay work, colour glass mosaics and curios to be seen.

One can get beautiful views of the city and the lake from the upper terraces.

You have not really visited Udaipur if you have not been to the City Palace. It will give you the feel of the royal culture and experience the erstwhile glory of the Mewar dynasty.
Visited July 2014
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August 23, 2014

My TripAdvisor Review No.50: Garden of the Maidens (Sahelion ki Bari), Udaipur

“Refreshing Sight on a Hot Day”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 22 August 2014 NEW
This is a small but beautiful garden near Sukhadia Circle and Lake Fateh Sagar. There is a nominal entry fee, and it is worth visiting if you are sight-seeing other nearby attractions. We took a short break here during one hot afternoon, and were truly refreshed by the lovely water fountains, lotus ponds, green lawns, and the exotic plants and flowers.

The fountains are fed by water gushing in from the Lake Fateh Sagar nearby. The elephant shaped fountains are set around beautiful lotus pools and marble pavilions. The garden was built by Maharana Sangram Singh II in the early part of the 18th century for a group of forty eight young women attendants who accompanied a princess to Udaipur as part of her dowry.

When the fountains are working, the sound of the water flowing and pattering down on the leaves and plants make you feel as if you are in a rain forest, and refreshes you on a hot and sunny day.

There is also a small museum exhibiting some items and artefacts from the royal households.
Visited July 2014
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August 22, 2014

My TripAdvisor Review No.49: The Celebration Mall, Udaipur

“Like an Oasis in a Desert”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 21 August 2014 NEW
We had just arrived from a trip to Kumbhalgarh and Nathdwara in our cab and were feeling tired and hungry as we entered into Udaipur on National Highway No.8. Then we noticed this huge and colourful building on our left called ‘The Celebration Mall’. We asked our driver to stop here so that we could refresh ourselves. There was ample paid parking space in the basement.

We were pleasantly surprised to see the many brightly decorated shops inside the mall. There were all kinds of shops selling clothes, shoes, jewellery, souvenirs, branded goods, restaurants, food and drink stalls and even a movie theatre (PVR). It was comparable to some of the best malls in our country.

We had pizza for lunch, followed by ‘jamun’ ice-cream. We made good use of the washroom which was in a better condition than many we had encountered on the way, but could be better maintained.

For the local people this mall seems to be a good place to hang out and do some shopping, but for us tourists it was like an oasis in the desert where we could pause for a while, refresh and refuel ourselves, and be on the way again.
Visited July 2014
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August 21, 2014

My TripAdvisor Review No.48: Sukhadia Circle Fountain, Udaipur

“Good for a Paddle Boat Ride and an Evening Outing”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed 20 August 2014 NEW
When you are passing Sukhadia Circle in your vehicle you will not realise that there is a nice garden and a large pond encircling a tall and beautiful fountain. You can only see the upper part of the fountain, till you get down from your car and walk into the green enclosure.

Situated in front of the Railway Training School at the junction of Moti Magri Road and the Jodhpur Road, this is a very tall fountain surrounded by a fairly large pond and neatly laid out green parks embedded with beautiful flowers and herbs.

The fountain is lit up in the evening and a many locals come to have a paddle boat ride in the duck shaped boats, or an evening walk around the pond. There are many food stalls where they can be seen enjoying some snacks or ice-cream.

It’s best to visit this attraction during the evening, if you are spending more than 3 days in Udaipur, and are staying near Moti Magri area.
Visited July 2014
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August 20, 2014

My TripAdvisor Review No.47: Duddhtalaii and Musical Garden, Udaipur

“Sunset Point of Udaipur”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 19 August 2014 NEW
Doodh Talai (Milky Lake) is a small lake sandwiched in between Lake Pichola and Machala Magra (Fish Hill). It is very close to the south end jetty of Lake Pichola.

There are two gardens on either side, one is the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Park, with the musical fountains and rock garden, and the other is the Manik Lal Verma Park, which is at an elevation leading up to Machala Magra.

Doodh Talai gardens are the favourite haunts for the locals as well as tourists who like to come and spend a quiet evening watching the sunset over Lake Pichola, between the far hills. One can take a stroll in the beautifully laid out rock garden and enjoy the musical fountains in the evening. Camel rides can be had nearby.

One can take a cable car ride from near Deen Dayal Park, up to the Karni Mata temple situated high up on Machla Magra, from where one can get a bird’s eye view of Udaipur.
Visited July 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

August 19, 2014

My TripAdvisor Review No.46: Mansapurna Karni Mata Ropeway, Udaipur

“For a 360 degree view of Udaipur”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 18 August 2014 NEW
One can take a cable car ride from Deen Dayal Park, near Dudhtalai, up to the Karni Mata temple situated high up on Machla Magra. The ride takes less than 5 minutes and costs Rs.78 per head (to and fro), but one can spend as much time as one wants at the top station. After buying the ticket one has to wait about 10 to 15 minutes for your turn to enter the cab, which seats 4 persons. There are two cabs going up and two coming down simultaneously.

The views of Udaipur from the hill are stunning, and the breeze threatens to blow you away. On one side you can see both the lakes, Pichola and Fateh Sagar, with all the Palaces and Havelis, and on the other side is the bustling and thriving city of Udaipur with its markets, pols and the City Railway Station.

There is a restaurant where you can have some snacks and tea while enjoying the views. The Karni Mata temple is at a two minute’s walk from the restaurant, and a dargah and fort little further up. The entrance to the fort is through the dargah, and you have to take off your footwear to get in.

While we were there we saw dark monsoon clouds gathering above, ready to rain down on the city.

It is best to visit this hill during sunset to get beautiful views of the city at dusk, and watch Udaipur come alive with glittering lights as darkness sets in. Be sure to take the last ride back by 9 pm.
Visited July 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

August 18, 2014

My TripAdvisor Review No.45: Jaisamand Lake, Udaipur

“Good for an Excursion Picnic from Udaipur”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed 17 August 2014 NEW
Jaisamand is 48 km south east of Udaipur, and it takes less than an hour to reach there by car. The route is through picturesque hills and forests and we enjoyed the drive. It’s best to go during the monsoons.

Jaisamand is said to be largest artificial lake in India, built by Maharana Jaisingh in the 17th century. There are seven islands in the middle of the lake said to be inhabited by Bhils. The lake is surrounded by lovely wooded hills on the far side. On the near side is a long embankment with steps leading down to the water, where you can feed the fish.

On the embankment are built six marble cenotaphs with a carved elephant standing in front of each, and in the centre is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. On two hills on either side of the embankment are two summer palaces, one is called ‘Hawa Mahal’ (Wind Palace), and the other ‘Roothi Rani ka Mahal’ (Palace of the upset queen).

Boats are available for a ride around the lake. The forests around the lake are part of the Jaisamand Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Jaisamand Island Resort located near the Lake, is the only hotel in the vicinity.
Visited July 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

August 17, 2014

My TripAdvisor Review No.44: Srinathji Temple, Nathdwara, Udaipur

“Praise the Lord Krishna”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 16 August 2014 NEW
‘Jai Shri Krishna’ is the common way of greeting each other at Nathdwara, the famous Krishna Temple town in Rajasthan, about 50 km north of Udaipur. It means ‘Praise the Lord Krishna’.

The temple of Srinathji at Nathdwara is among the most sacred places of worship for the followers of Lord Krishna. The idol is made of black stone and is said to have been brought here from Mathura in 1669 to protect it from the Moguls under Aurangzeb.

The temple opens its doors to the public for worship seven times a day for just about half an hour each, and there is a huge crowd always waiting to rush in. Inevitably there is some pushing and jostling and you barely get a minute for darshan before you are pushed out to the exit, just like in a Mumbai local train. This makes the whole experience quite unpleasant, and the temple authorities should take the initiative to organise it in a better way. Some touts promise to get you in through the VIP channels, but they only serve as paid guides, and can do nothing when the push becomes a shove.

The temple timings vary slightly on a daily basis and are announced publicly and on their website. It generally starts at 5.30 am with the ‘mangala’ darshan, followed by ‘shingar’ at 8.15 am, ‘gwal’ at 9.30 am, ‘rajbhog’ at 10.30 am, ‘uthaapan’ at 3.30 pm, ‘sandhya’ at 5.15 pm, ‘shayan’ at 6.30 pm. ‘Bhog’ is distributed among devotees as ‘prasad’ (holy food). At each darshan the child in Lord Krishna is pampered in a different way, from his awakening, to his feeding, grooming, afternoon siesta, evening outing and dinner, till he is finally tucked in to bed. Devotional music is played during the darshans. The timings change completely on festival days.

Tips: 1) Not for the people weak in heart and body. 2) Entry is free, but photography inside the sanctum is strictly prohibited. All cameras, mobiles and smart phones are to be left outside for which you will be given a token at the counter. It is preferable to leave them locked in your vehicle, because there is a rush at the counter after darshan, and it can take a while to get your valuables back.

After the temple visit you can do some shopping in the ‘Chaupati Bazar’, in the lane leading to the temple. Pictures and paintings of Srinathji are readily available in every second shop, whereas you can buy local jewellery, vases, handicrafts and decorative items in the other shops. There are some food stalls and sweetmeat shops too. A few shops just outside the temple sell ‘prasad’ in case you want to take some home for your near and dear.

Another good place to visit at Nathdwara is the ‘Lal Bagh’ garden, about 2 km north of the main temple on the highway. This garden houses the museum where you can see the ancient chariots and other items which were used in the ceremonial processions in older times.

Last but not least, and if you are spending more time at Nathdwara, you can visit the ‘Gaushalas’ or cowsheds of the temple trust, which is about 5 km away from the temple. There are about 1500 cows and around 500 oxen. One cow here is known to be Shrinathji’s cow, and comes from a lineage that has served the deity for long.
Visited July 2014
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