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   As Kapil Dev said: Udaipur may not be a proper place... (September 17, 1987)

As Kapil Dev said: Udaipur may not be a proper place to have a cricket camp in, but it is a lovely place for a holiday – a maharaja holiday.

You take the morning hopping flight, filed with tourist groups, Aurangabad, Udaipur, Jaipur, Jodhpur. The airport is tiny, in a showcase there are dusty samples of Rajasthani handicrafts.

It is a long drive into town, through dry, stony country, jagged hills on the horizon, women in bold, bright reds and yellows, like in the tourist posters of Rajasthan, standing at wayside bus-stops, and men in heavy red turbans, very erect, descendants of Rajput warrior.

You pass through a bit of the town, rickshaws and stray dogs aimlessly circling around, the smell of tonga horses and upholstery leather baking in the sun, music blaring from the radios of the restaurants, a scene from James Bond's Octopussy, minus all the leading Indian models who acted as extras in the film.

You enter a large gate and drive up, and, there you are: on your left, Lake Pichola, its waters, serene, and sitting in the middle of the waters, like a louts flower, the Lake Palace. Indian maharajas were an indulgent people and the Lake Palace must be the biggest indulgence of them all. I cannot think of anything more opulent than the palaces of the old maharajas, except, perhaps, the Rashtrapati and Raj Bhavans of the present presidents and governors.

Back to Udaipur – what is know as the City Palace, a big bluff stone castle rising into the skies, is on land, and, directly opposite it, in the waters, half way down the lake, is the summer palace. Now the Lake Palace is a hotel, the Taj Group's most prized property, the City Palace, or parts of it, a museum.

You take a motor-boat across, one of the two or three run by the hotel every five minutes, or as and when there is a demand, and chug-chug towards the palace, trailing your hand in the dirty waters.

The hotel staff is waiting at the wharf, it takes you in, registers you, gives you your key, opens the room for you, turns down the four-poster bed, shows you the view from the window. If you are lucky, you can see the City Palace from the window, but whether lucky or not, you can sense the waters around you, the constant splash along the sides.

Outside, in the central courtyard, the sun shines, a fountain ripples, birds flutter. You are marooned on Paradise island.

The day is still young, and the Indian Airlines breakfast not having been adequate (if you were sensible, you would not have touched it), you proceed to the dining ‘room for a breakfast of Parsi akoori, Rajasthani puris and potatoes, toast, butter, marmalade.

After that, if you are so inclined, you can go and see the kind of cricket ground and pitches Mr. Rungta and the Rajasthan Cricket Association had prepared for our cricketers to practise on and retain the World Cup.

 
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