Hotel Mahendra Prakash – Udaipur, India

Sometimes in India, a traveler needs a refuge. If you’re lucky, you may find Mahendra Prakash.

Mr. K

The hotel was just another cheap booking.com find, no special recommendation has brought us here. We’ve just finished two days of wedding celebrations near Delhi followed by a flight and it is 39 degrees in the shade when Mr. K greets us at the front desk, “Namaste, welcome to Mahendra Prakash. Here you are like family.” He takes us for a short tour of the property. “Please be careful in the yard, it is full of crocodiles.” There are statues of crocodiles hidden everywhere. “The pool, it is not for you. It is only for the pigeons.” Mr. K is funny.

You know that famous Marigold Hotel movie? Mahendra Prakash is what that hotel was trying to be. In fact the real Marigold Hotel is not far from here, now a tourist attraction apparently. We’ve spent the past four nights in this zen, funky little place. Mr K is a more handsome rendition of Sonny Kapoorr, and I think he knows it. There’s a photograph of Judi Dench, the actress who played Evelyn visiting the hotel. The food is great and whatever you need is delivered the moment you ask, sometimes before you even knew you wanted it.

I was sick here, enough to spend a day in bed. I’m blaming it on an iffy breakfast buffet at that airport hotel whose room had no window. It was free, mind you.  As I rested, in the glorious air conditioning staring up at an ornately painted ceiling, the staff conferred on what I needed. Yogurt and bananas was the consensus, and there was a regular stream of men delivering said medicine.

Udaipur

We are exploring India’s largest state, Rajasthan. Udaipur is our first stop. This city of lakes, is often referred to as the most romantic city in India. It’s certainly an easy city to visit, and that can’t be said about all of this chaotic country.

Udaipur City Palace

City Palace is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan, and is  just a few blocks from our hotel. Its location on the shore of Lake Pichola makes for some pretty amazing views. There are guides available for private tours, but as usual we just went exploring.  We spent a very enjoyable full day here. The palace was built in the mid 1500’s and the lake is also man-made. Can you imagine what it must have took to build a lake in the year 1550?

While here we hired a car to visit a few other landmarks, ruins and gardens in the city, and then discovered the rose garden right across the street.  We got a lot of looks, and smiles and head nods when we went for a stroll here. This is not a tourist attraction, but rather a place for locals to exercise and hang out. The library is the focal point of this large green space. We stuck our heads in and it was full of men reading newspapers (no women). Nothing was blooming, but it was calm and quiet and I could imagine the beauty of it at the right time of year.

Upaipur – City of Lakes

Rajasthan Culture

Every night, in the Neem Courtyard of Bagore-Ki-Haveli temple, there is a display of Rajasthani culture that you wouldn’t want to miss. Its famous enough to make the guidebooks, and Mr. K told us it was not to be missed but, as things are in India our tuk-tuk driver had no idea where it might be. It was close enough we could easily have walked, if we knew where we were going. India is funny that way, not funny ha ha, more like funny oh-oh. You can not count on Indian drivers to help you find anything, and many of them can’t read English so don’t try showing them a card or a map, either. We did find the Dharohar Folk Dance in the end and it was well worth the search. I stole the photo you see in this blog off of their website because they were charging extra to take photos. I’m nothing if not frugal.

It’s time to leave Udaipur. We were planning on taking the overnight train to Jaipur, but we found such inexpensive plane tickets that we decided to fly. The Indian trains are an experience not to miss, but we’ve done that.

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