Octopussy

As an avid James Bond fan the scene involving Bond camouflaged as a crocodile while swimming out to a Lake Palace is one I can easily recall. The scenes were filmed in the beautiful city of Udaipur so I was looking forward to seeing it myself as we drove into Udaipur. However first we had to find somewhere to park the truck. The area around the lake is a maze of narrow lanes full of motorbikes and people jostling to get by. As we were to find out its tight even in a tuk tuk so clearly no place to take the truck.
Fortunately away from the lake the streets are wider and we found a hotel with decent street parking from where a short tuk tuk ride would take us to the magical lake shore. The views around the lake are magnificent. As the sun sets over the nearby hills, there are views onto the massive City Palace (the second largest in India) as well as across the lake to the famous Lake Palace. The Lake Palace is now an expensive hotel and I would have treated the family to a stay there except there was no parking for the truck!
Instead we settled for a delightful dinner right on the lakeside with wonderful views to all the major sights.


Heading back into the narrow maze of lanes the next day we struggled through the mass of motorbikes, rickshaws, people and street vendors to the City Palace. Here the girls toured the palace deciding how each room would be used if they were Maharajahs. The palace was over 400 years old and over 240m long. Over the years the various Maharajahs had added to it with each of them introducing their own slightly different style. We enjoyed our time wandering round looking at the mass of balconies, towers and cupolas as well as the multitude of inner courtyards hidden away from view from the outside.


At the end of the day we enjoyed another lovely meal, this time from a rooftop restaurant overlooking the lake. Whilst Udaipur is a delightful city with plenty of sights and smells it’s the view over the lake that make it really stand out.  


From Udaipur we were heading to Jodphur. An Indian friend of Gilly’s had recommended a beautiful hotel just outside Jodphur and said we should definitely stay there if we were passing. Gilly had also previously recommended this hotel to a friend in Prague who gave it a glowing review. Looking at our map we could see it was only a kilometre off the road we would be taking. After the nights we had spent in petrol stations we felt we deserved a little splurge. Also the following day was Republic Day, a National holiday so things could be even more crazy than normal. There was only one problem, looking online it was fully booked. Still it was only a kilometre out of the way so why not just pop in and see.
On arrival we were met by the friendly manager who scoured the reservation book. After a couple of minutes he explained yes we can squeeze you in come and look at your room. He took us down narrow corridors to a delightful courtyard. Inside there was a four poster bed and a beautiful spacious room, we were hooked. What a fantastic place to stay for a couple of nights. A tranquil sanctuary away from the hecticness of India.
The hotel Rohet Garh is set in a small village about 40kms south of Jodhpur. The manor/fort is almost 400 years old and is still owned by the original family who live on the premises. There were delightful views over the lake and apart from a short walk into the village we spent our time enjoying the facilities of the hotel and it’s beautiful grounds. Whilst there were activities on offer we were content to just relax. Unfortunately there was some unseasonal rain but it didn’t stop us enjoying our stay. The meals were beautiful served in a roof top tent and accompanied by local music which Lucy loved, practicing her Indian dancing some more. There was also a magician which the children enjoyed so much we went to see his show twice.


On our last evening a well dressed Indian gentlemen approached us as we were having drinks in the garden. He asked us where we were from and about our trip etc. When we asked him where he was from he proudly said here. He was the latest in the long line of rulers of the area and had been responsible for turning his lovely home into a heritage hotel.  
After our short break it was time to throw ourselves back into India. Jodhpur was only 40kms away on a good road but again the main sights are down narrow lanes so we scouted the outskirts for somewhere suitable to park. The main road was under repair and we were diverted onto another dual carriageway. Just after our turn there was a bridge under the railway. It was clear we could not fit under the bridge so I pulled onto the hard shoulder. Now what to do. Well there was nothing for it we would have to do a three point turn on our side of the dual carriageway and then drive along it the wrong way back to the junction. So that’s what we did. Except this time when Gilly jumped out to stop the traffic she used a whistle as she had seen parking attendants use. 
As we turned back into the street from where we had come a policeman waved for us to stop. Gilly just shouted back “It would help if you had some bloody signs” , waved back at him and we continued on our way. Fortunately it was shortly after that that we found somewhere to stay.
Jodhpur is also known as the Blue City. Previously people from the Brahmin caste painted their houses blue. Now everyone in the city is allowed to do it so looking down on the city you see a riot of blue everywhere. The town is also dominated by a huge fort set on a rocky outcrop overlooking the city. The fort is over 550 years old and was the seat of power for miles around. Today it’s a museum and touring it makes for an interesting afternoon looking back into some of the history of Rajahstan. After visiting the fort we enjoyed ourselves just wondering around the maze of streets, avoiding being run over by the rickshaws and motorbikes whilst peering into the shopfronts to see what was on sale. Each area of the town seemed to specialise in a certain item be it jewellery, spices or just plain old fruit and veg. We finished the day with another lovely meal on a roof top with the bustle of the town beneath us and the mighty fort staring down on us.


As we move on the landscape is starting to become drier but now the real desert should begin.

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