Royal Destination: Udaipur

Udaipur is an ideal getaway for a weekend if you’re staying in Jaipur. It’s quite a bit of inter-state travel, so an ideal trip to Udaipur would be around two to three days. The best way to travel around the place would be by a tourist taxi.

Check in
One of the best hotels in the city is the Taj Lake Palace Udaipur. It has luxurious 5-star rooms with a view of the Lake Palace. Other good hotels include the Leela Palace Kempinski Udaipur, The Oberoi Udaivilas and The Rajputana Resort.

Lakes and Palaces
The City Palace, Lake Palace and Jag Mandir Palace are Rajput-era monuments with breathtaking scenic beauty. The Pichola Lake has the lofty Aravalli hills on one side and soaring palaces on the other. The City Palace, with its museum, is one of the most visited attractions in the city. The Fateh Sagar Lake is another tourist favourite.

Temples
The Eklingji temple is said to be the abode of the guardian deity of Mewar (to which Udaipur was capital in the Rajput era). A four-faced, black marble idol of Lord Shiva adorns the main temple. Another cherishable visit would be to the Shri Nathji Temple in Nathwara. This 600-year old structure is adorned with picchwai paintings and is noted to be the second-richest temple in India.

Forts
Udaipur has some historic forts with great stories wound around them. The Chittaurgarh Fort was made in the 7th century and was the center of the Mewad empire. Inside the massive gates, you will see huge temples and towers that have a scenic view down-hill. Another famous fortress is the one at Kumbalgarh which dates back to the 15th century.

Restaurants by the lake
You’re guaranteed a great view and ethnic cuisine at the restaurants around the city. The Udai Kothi Hotel Rooftop Terrace Restaurant has a splendid lake-view. You cannot miss the desserts at 1559 AD. Ambrai at Hanuman Ghat has splendid ambience and the Jaiwana Haveli Roof Top Restaurant serves authentic Indian cuisine by the Lake Pichola.

Shopping
The markets of Udaipur make for great shopping, artifact collection and souvenir selecting. Hathi Pol, Bada Bazaar, Chetak Circle, Bada Bazaar and Palace Road are the popular shopping arcades. You will find collectables ranging from paintings, pottery, jewellery, handicrafts, wooden toys, and cloth lanterns to name a few.
If you find yourself travelling to Udaipur in the Spring, don’t miss the Mewar Festival celebrations. At any time of the year, a trip to Udaipur will definitely find its place in your album of memories.

Distance from Jaipur: 403 kms

Approximate travel time
Road: 5 hours 30 minutes via NH 8
Train: 6 hours 30 minutes
Air: 1 hour

Thanks, Prakriti!

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65 Cheers to Indian Independence


Today is India’s sixty-fifth Independence Day, and while we brag about Taj Mahal or the Himalayas, we’re just lucky God dropped them within our borders. But they’ve existed since forever.
I was going through the Mumbai Mirror and there’s so much that happened since 1947.

So here are 65 candles to light (or reasons to tilt your glass and a raise a toast… oops! It’s a dry day) to celebrate India’s achievements; I’m hardly patriotic, but these days bring out that side of me…

1. We are the only nation in the world which gave every adult the right to vote from its first day. In the US the world’s second largest democracy this right was given more than 150 years after their independence.
2. Just after birth we executed the world’s largest merger and acquisition activity, when 560 small princely states joined (merged) into the Union of India. Hardly any blood was spilt, nor any bullet fired.
3. We have the most number of languages spoken in any one nation; 29 languages are spoken in India, by more than one million people each. Canada almost broke up into two in 1960s because of tension between English and French.
4. More than 1,650 dialects spoken.
5. Fifteen major bloodless changes of power (Lok Sabha) at the Centre. Thailand has had 18 military coups since 1990.
6. Constitution drafted by a Dalit.
7. We have largest number of ethnic groups.
8. Largest diversity of races.
9. Largest number of elected persons in the world (one million), thanks to Panchayati Raj.
10. Largest number of elected women (panchayats, etc).
11. Among the very first countries to have woman head of State.
12. Has elected woman as Speaker, and President. Four major States have women CM, so also leader of Opposition.
13. One of only three countries that refused to sign Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on matter of principle.
14. Developed nuclear technology indigenously under world boycott.
15. Lowest cost producer of nuclear energy ($ 1700 per kilowatt).
16. Only country to develop thorium-based nuclear power.
17. Among first country to develop satellite for domestic communication.
18. Lowest cost launcher of commercial satellites into space.
19. One of only five nations to launch nuclear submarine.
20. One of only five nations to send unmanned mission to moon.
21. Lowest cost producer of steel.
22. Of aluminium.
23. Of cement.
24. Of fertilizer.
25. Largest single location copper smelter.
26. Lowest cost delivery of wireless telephony.
27. Fastest growing telecom market.
28. Biggest user of the “missed call”.
29. World’s lowest cost supercomputer.
30. Lowest cost car (Nano).
31. World’s largest producer of two-wheelers.
32. Lowest cost high-quality eye surgery.
33. Record number of daily cataract operations, at one per cent cost of UK.
34. Largest single location oil refinery capacity nearly 70m tonnes.
35. Largest milk producer (100m tonnes).
36. Largest butter producer.
37. World’s largest milk producing cooperative (2.6 million members).
38. Among the largest producer and consumer of pulses.
39. Second largest producer of sugar.
40. Third largest producer of cotton.
41. Largest importer of gold (700 tonnes).
42. Largest consumer of gold.
43. 90% of all diamonds polished and processed here.
44. Third largest stock exchange (by number of transactions).
45. Largest No. of post offices (1.5 lakh).
46. Largest number of bank account holders.
47. Largest number of agricultural plot holders (100 million).
48. Largest inward remittance receiver from non-residents ($52 billion).
49. Largest intra-country remittances.
50. World’s third largest railway network.
51. Largest single employer Indian Railways (1.5 million).
52. Highest number of daily train passengers.
53. World’s second largest airport (Delhi).
54. Among world’s highest bridge (near Leh).
55. World’s highest motorable pass (Khardung La at 5600m).
56. World’s largest number of movies produced annually.
57. India’s mid-day meal scheme is world’s biggest school lunch programme (120 million meals served daily).
58. National Rural Employment Programme largest in the world.
59. Third highest run getter in Test cricket.
60. Highest No. of Test and ODI centuries.
61. Winner of cricket World Cup twice.
62. Kumbh Mela is world’s largest religious congregation – 30 million pilgrims. Event mostly incident free.
63. Largest number of independently owned newspapers.
64. Home of the sachet revolution and micro finance.
65. Among a handful countries with fundamental right to information.

Happy Birthday, FREE India! Cheers…. (It’s still a dry day???…damn!)