Thursday, March 20, 2014


March 2014

Tucked away in the lanes of the inner city of Udaipur is this gorgeous little restored haveli.  Paintings on the walls, floral and other stencils on the ceiling that reminded me of the pictures my son Mehirr had brought back of the ancestral havelis at Eminabad, now in Pakistan.
Lots of steep stairs to be negotiated, but worth the climb, from the first floor bedroom to the lounge and kitchen on the third floor --- awesome breezes and views of the Pichola lake, its palace and the city all around… a true roof top experience.
All the basic amenities were there --- not the clinical ‘nicety’ of a hotel, but cheery interaction with Caroline and Vikram who run the place and the motley fellow guests, from Delhi and Surat, from Sardinia, Hungary, England and elsewhere --- lots of views and experiences to exchange.
Perhaps best of all was a raucous Holi celebration, right at the doorstep, with a fire whose embers continued well till the morning of Duleti, plenty of color and beer and music and dance – basically good fun.   One high old man brought a batch of moong dal paapad to share with everyone.  My silver hair is still tinged pink, not the blue rinse I had dreamt of.  Sadly, no gewar (a Holi festival sweet) either.
Restored havelis offering roof top restaurants are a dime a dozen in the city area of Udaipur, I later learnt.  Didn’t visit any others,  but Little Prince was a good stay, with congenial company  and a break from routine, after a very long time.
The pity was that Udaipur did not live upto its promise. 
Perhaps because we had only a long weekend which was eaten up by the Holi break which closed up the town.   But Karrishma and I did squeeze in the Saheliyon ki Bari which was a welcome respite from the rising heat, with a sprawling verdant garden rich with the colors of  luxuriant blooming bougainvillea.
Built as a getaway for the royal ladies, it must once upon a time have been a haven for them outside the strict protocol within the palaces and havelis.  Now open to the hoi polloi too!!
The big disappointment was the City Palace with its tired looking museum, choc abloc with tourists least interested in the massive displays of ancient armaments.  So bored that few bothered to even look at a display of Babur’s banners seized once a time by the ancestors of Udaipur royalty five centuries or so ago.

Are museums supposed to be just boring displays --  not the recreation of history and its numerous interesting stories?   When will we learn those lessons, of creating museums that capture the viewers’ interest?  

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