I have been planning to travel solo for a while. Wanting to experience it to see if I enjoy going solo. Though I did travel a lot on work, exploring the city on my own whenever I visited a new place, that doesn’t exactly qualify as solo travel. So this time before Diwali I decided to visit Udaipur on my own.
The Udaipur is beautiful on Diwali. Also, the City of Lakes is pleasantly cool at this time of the year. “I want to go Udaipur in Diwali,” I pinged my friend. “Go for it,” came the prompt response, and that was all the encouragement I needed. I immediately started checking the hotels and the flights.
Since this was my first solo trip, with my excitement adding to my experiences, I plan to do a series on Udaipur & Me or Me in Udaipur.
Careful planning: better to leave nothing to chance when travelling solo
Flights could wait but I needed to book the hotel first as Diwali is a busy season in Udaipur. After looking at various hotels I settled for Sarovar Pichola, a 3-star hotel on Lake Pichola Udaipur. It’s a very popular, hotel with a great view and location, I learnt from various reviews and recommendations. Since I was travelling alone, I wanted a city hotel and Sarovar Pichola is in the heart of the heritage city. Lake Palace lies on the other bank of Lake Pichola, diagonally opposite Hotel Sarovar Pichola. I could just step out of the hotel and walk the narrow but clean lanes of old Udaipur and get a feel of the city. The hotel had just one room left that I promptly booked.
Udaipur has direct flights from Delhi, good connectivity is one reason why I chose the city. I booked myself in a morning flight on Nov 4th and return on a late afternoon Nov 6th flight. I would have two full days to explore the city, though my heart craved for more once I lay eyes on the gorgeous Udaipur.
Since it was a two-day trip, I packed light – comfortable clothes in vibrant colours to match the city and shoes that I could walk in. I also carried a small medicine kit with antacid, paracetamol, pain killers and band-aids (just in case). I was so excited that I could hardly sleep the night before and finally on Diwali morning I landed in Udaipur.
Reaching the Hotel
I smartly walked up to the Uber Bay ignoring all the cabbies waving at me. ‘No cabs,’ the app said again and again. Finally, an old man pointed out the pre-paid window for booking cabs ‘Uber doesn’t come here,’ he said politely. Once I booked the cab driver told me that we would drop me 500 meters away from the hotel. Sarovar is in the heritage city and cabs are not allowed to enter these narrow lanes. After driving through the newer parts of Udaipur, a smart city now, I entered the heritage city. “This is crematorium for the royal family,’ said the driver as we were entering the old city. He dropped me close to the Chandpole bridge, a footbridge on Lake Pichola. ‘You can just take the bridge, your hotel is not very far,’ he said. ‘Or you can take an auto if you like.’ Since I didn’t have much luggage, I decided to walk. Best way to experience the city I thought.
A three-story heritage building has been converted into Hotel Sarovar, therefore no lifts. While my room was on the ground floor the restaurant with a terrace is on the third floor. The view from the terrace looking into the lake is just breathtaking and the food is good, so I didn’t really mind climbing up and down.
Exploring the city
After checking in and a quick breakfast I set out to explore the city. ‘It’s a small city, Ma’am, you can take an auto. Cab will be unnecessarily expensive,’ advised the guy sitting at the reception. I usually prefer to take a cab but this time I decided to take an auto. I stepped out of the hotel with no particular destination in mind. I decided to check out the silver jewellery that Udaipur is known for. ‘Take me to a silver shop,’ I told the auto driver. ‘Bapu Bazaar mein hai,’ he said as I got in.
Then followed two days of browsing through the beautiful jewellery and handicrafts, trying local foods and of course exploring the beautiful palaces and museums. Listening to auto drivers talk about Udaipur as they drive me through the city, the stories of tourist guides who doubled as my photographer, walking the lanes, sometimes even requesting strangers to take my picture. These are things I would not do in the normal course; in the solo trip, I found a new me.
In the evening I would sit in the rooftop bar enjoying the view and a drink, tired and satisfied. The view of the city from the rooftop, especially on the Diwali light with palaces and houses along the lake lit up and people floating diya on the lake was breathtaking.
Solo but not alone!
Though I would sometimes crave company in the evening, I quite enjoyed my solo drinks. I would call a friend or share pictures of my trip. Yes, I did keep my friends posted while I was making the most of my time alone.
I had my apprehensions about travelling solo. I could be bored or uncomfortable I feared and spend the day sitting in the hotel. Surprisingly, though there were couples and families all around me, not for a moment was I bored. I went to my room only after dinner when I was too tired, looking forward to the next day. Udaipur and me was such a perfect company!
Wait for the next post to know more about the city…