A Travellerspoint blog

Down South...

Udaipur to Mumbai

sunny 27 °C


Now sudden celebrity is a hard thing to stomach for any civilian... the constant pressure of the press, being recognised in the street and having to maintain that public image that people recognise and adore. Andy took to the lifestyle of a sudden celebrity footballer with real style... but the pressure of the paparazzi was difficult. As such we chose to get out of Pushkar and get to the quieter shores of Udaipur where many a Bollywood and Indian TV personality hang out to escape the constant publicity. Life as a WAG was not something I anticipated for myself.

Udaipur is in South Rajastan and after time in the camel towns of the desert we thought we were having a mirage when we saw the giant lake at Udaipur's heart. The town is based on the shores of the lake and at it's centre is a massive palace which looks like it is floating on the water. If you have seen the James Bond film Octopussy then Udaipur is where it is filmed. If you haven't seen the film you can rent the film from blockbusters or go to Udaipur where you can catch a viewing of the film... on any street... in apparently every bar and restaurant... back to back... at every hour of day or night. Needless to say we ended up catching it a couple of times.

Come 7pm Udaipur begins to resemble Beirut as the sky explodes in bangs and flashes of fireworks. One thing we have come to appreciate about India is that they love a good firework. Udaipur is the trendy place to get married so firework displays light up the sky every night from all sides. Not a bad view when you are sitting on a roof top with a bottle of Kingfisher overlooking the lake!

Refreshed, relaxed and recuperated we headed on a new night train to Mumbai/Bombay. We had reservations as we had become accustomed to being in laid back small towns rather than the scrum of the city but we were impressed with the spectacle that is Mumbai from the moment we disembarked the train/rickshaw/train combo which got us to the centre of Mumbai from Rajastan in the express time of 20 hours.

The night we arrived, we walked down to the Gateway of India to see the buildings on the front lit up. Sitting and watching the milling crowds of tourists, salesmen, sailors, boatmen, beggars and imagining the changing face of this tiny jetty over the last 200 years was something I won't forget in a hurry. Suddenly, from nowhere I was handed a baby and acquired a five foot tall old lady in a multicolour sari hanging off my arm whilst photo-wallahs had a field day snapping away. Now I was back to being the celebrity instead of Andy... a return to Indian normality.


Whilst in Mumbai we had agreed on two priorities, a trip to Elephanta Island and Gin and Tonics at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. We did both in one Big Day Out in Mumbai and it was one that neither us, nor the credit card, will forget in a long time! (Only joking Mum! We are being financially responsible!)

On Elephanta Island, Andy became a real lover of ancient temple carvings; he bought a book, he gazed in wonder and spent a long time admiring each sculpture in detail. I was initially impressed with Andrew's new found love of ancient history. This was until I cottoned on to the fact that his real motivation was the absolutely enormous pair of baps that are carved on the Goddess Parvati on each sculpture. When we found a little cafe that served Chicken Handi and cold Kingfisher for a post temple pick me up, Andy was very chuffed with his cultural day.


Now I never realised that smog could be beautiful or romantic, but coming back on the boat from Elephanta to Mumbai it managed to be just that. As the sun was setting over the city you could see all the historic buildings of the water front and all the skyscrapers of today glowing red and orange though the haze hanging over the city. Mumbai may hold the record for the amount of rats I have seen in one place (Record: 2. And one of them was eating toast inside the entrance of our less than sterling hotel) but pulling into the Gateway of India at sunset you could easily forget that and just appreciate how stunning the skyline is.

After a quick change in the Rat Pit and an excursion onto the streets to buy Andrew some shoes we were dolled up and ready to play the part in the top class Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. Full of images from books and stories I was pretty chuffed with myself, pulling up in an old school Ambassador taxi, getting in (that was the first hurdle we were worried we wouldn't make!) and then settling down for Gin and Tonic in the Harbour Bar! I bored Andy for at least an hour trying to tell him the plot line of 'A Night in Bombay' whilst Andy tried to get his moneys worth from the extortionate drink prices by eating the place out of the complimentary crisps, fried beans and nuts. After we spent up (it didn't take long!) we headed into the hotel to explore the luxury from the inside. A quick stop in the toilets, where they have attendants who volunteer to do everything but wipe your bum for you... I think you have to ask for that service if you need it.... and they ensure that your cubical is squirted with perfume before you enter (bear in mind the Rat Pit Hotel had shared unisex squat toilets...) we wandered into the hallways and the posh shops inside. We were home and dry until we got the camera out and then the Secret Service of the Taj Mahal were on us very quickly and politely enquiring as to whether we were guests at the hotel? (code: Get out you backpacking imposters). We left and found an altogether more affordable drinking hole to end the night. Memorable to say the least!


Mumbai was topped off with a visit to the Dhobi Ghat, which is essentially an area where all the washing of clothes is done for the whole of Mumbai. It is a bit like a giant, human powered washing machine with men, women and children beating the dirt out of clothes continuously in a kind of ancient times conveyor belt. I agree it is a strange thing to go see but it is a real spectacle! Andy was less than impressed as he has grown a hatred of hand-washing on this trip. However, when wandering round he found a reason to be there as a kid threw him a cricket ball in the backstreet. That was that, Andy was suddenly the star bowler of the street cricket match. The cricket field was the general street, the boundary for a four was the buildings on either side and the wicket was an old trailer. The fielders were stood on the tin roofs of the nearby buildings and the crease was the line down the middle of the road. The game was occasionally interrupted by laundry vans, cows and general cars wanting to use the cricket pitch to get to their destination (selfish or what) but my word did Andy get a crowd (maybe he was missing his celebrity status as footballer after all).


Again leaving a sporting legacy in our wake, we departed for pastures new.

Posted by Annie Thornton 21:55 Archived in India Tagged palace lake mumbai udaipur gateway_of_india

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.