India Adventure #12 New Year’s Eve in Udaipur

Dec 31

This morning we got to wake up 15 minutes later for yoga class – Hooray! These classes have been very different from our classes at home. There is very little instruction and no modifications are offered. She did some hands-on adjustments i.e. pushing some people deeper into their poses. If anyone could not execute the pose perfectly, her comment was: “If you do this everyday, you will then be able to do it”. I tried not to laugh out loud when she was teaching us alternate nostril breathing. Many of us were quite congested with colds, and were having trouble breathing through one nostril or the other – when this was mentioned, the answer was the same: If you do this everyday, your nose will not be blocked.” Overall, I really enjoyed the classes, and picked up a few pearls I will use in my classes. It was an eye-opener though. I am looking forward to seeing how the classes will be taught in Kerala on my retreat.

I was trying to fly under the radar, and not realizing this, Hari’s son Al, outed me to the teacher on the first day and told her I was a yoga instructor back home. She seemed shocked, in fact, asked three times to make sure that I was actually the person he was talking about. I realize I do not look like your average yoga instructor  – this did not bother me in the least, in fact, I found it quite amusing. yoga is for everyone, not just the super-fit.

We started our sightseeing after another amazing breakfast. The first stop was an inactive Hindu temple called Saas Bahu. It was built in the 10th century, and was destroyed by a moghul king in the13th century. The relief carving work in the temple was incredible, although all of the faces have been cut off by the Moghuls, according to the prohibition in Islam of “graven images”. 

Our next stop was an active Vishnu temple, built in the 7th century.  Because it is an active temple, we were not allowed to wear shoes, bring in our cameras, or wear any leather. Within this temple complex there are a total of 108 temples – a spiritually significant number in Hinduism. (put in examples here) Every Hindu god has their own special day, and as luck would have it, Monday is Vishnu’s day. The Royal family of Udaipur comes to this particular temple every Monday to pray. The temple was very busy – lots of people, lots of monkeys scampering around, and there were drummers and other traditional instruments being played as the crowd lined up to pay their respects at the shrine. It was an interesting, colourful experience.

There were many relief carvings at this temple, each depicting a different story. The guide showed Aubrey a relief carving showing forced bestiality as punishment for rape.  I felt badly for the animal being used for the punishment.

We had lunch at an outdoor restaurant called Urban Dhaba. We were the only patrons, which might normally be a red flag, but the food was a delicious assortment of homemade “Rajasthani village specialties”  Our host, Hari explained that we would taste food here that we will not find anywhere else. It was wonderful.

Our next stop was the Monsoon Palace. It is high atop a hill, and is often above the clouds. The views of the surrounding hills overlooking the city were absolutely beautiful. It was built in1884. The palace offers a panoramic view of the city’s lakes, palaces and surrounding countryside. It was built chiefly to watch the monsoon clouds; hence, appropriately, it is popularly known as Monsoon Palace. Previously owned by the Mewar royal family, it is now under the control of the Forest Department of the Government of Rajasthan and has recently been opened to the public. The palace provides a beautiful view of the sunset.

After the Monsoon Palace, we dropped the kids at home and headed for a walking tour of the market, including the spice vendor that our guide Lalit’s mother buys her spices from. I am pretty sure we paid fairly steep “foreigner prices”, but I am happy to have everything I need to start replicating some of the delicious food that I have been lucky enough to eat while we have been here.

As it was New Year’s Eve, we were torn about what to do.  There were many parties we could go to, but the admission prices were quite high. Considering that we had to get up before 6am to catch our plane to Jaipur, we opted to order some food in, and have a quiet evening. Hari presented us with many beautiful gifts on our last night. We were overwhelmed by her generosity. Besides choosing something personal for each of us, she also gifted us with one of her framed pieces of artwork. The walls of their home are covered with her amazing art. She is extremely talented. After we received these gifts, we had to repack our bags as the weight limits for domestic flights are much stricter than the international flights. Most of us tried to go to bed early, considering how early we were going to have to wake up, but it was more challenging than we thought: Udaipur is definitely a party city. There was loud music playing late into the night, and of course there were many fireworks displays at midnight. I woke up and watched some of them from our balcony. 22 years ago tonight, Aubrey and met in person for the first time. Because of this, I always feel very hopeful on New Year’s Eve, I always see the possibilities. Happy New Year Everyone!

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