This is a follow up to My Guide to Udaipur, so if you missed that post, start there!
Udaipur is the lake city of India… the Venice of India… the romantic city of the subcontinent. It’s everything: VIBRANT, cultural, but most importantly, it’s the most relaxed place in India AND is still quite touristy.
It’s a balance where you can experience the “real” India and meet other travelers.
If you are coming here to “find yourself” start with this soul-searching guide to Udaipur. You will transform your mind, body, and soul. You might come out a little more artistic and limber, and you will definitely cry happy tears.
Your Soul Searching Guide
1. Art Classes.
I took classes at Ashoka Arts, located in Hotel Gangaur. I was taught to draw and paint an elephant on silk. If I can end up with a perfect drawing of an elephant, than anyone can. I am not artistically inclined.
It was supposed to cost 150 rupee, but in more detail he explained, “that’s per hour… most people take one hour… but you were not good. You took 3”. Yeah, yeah. So instead of 450 rupee, we settled on 300 since I wasn’t informed prior of the time limit.
2. Volunteer at the animal shelter.
You can do this in many places in India, but Udaipur is well known for animal rufuge. Blogger ‘Wandering Earl’ wrote about his time at the same animal shelter (be cautious clicking- some of the photos are pretty graphic).
Seeing the struggling street dogs and cows in India will break your heart. This is a great way to give back and let go of the guilt. Plus, you can feed a baby cow with a bottle.
3. YOGA & meditation.
my first Indian yoga class was here in Udaipur. I was hooked. It was one-on-one with Prakesh (sun) because I went off-season and no one else signed up for classes. Talk about lucky!
The class itself is free (that’s how you know it’s a good teacher… he’s so good he knows he can get by on tips alone… but do make sure to tip what you think it’s worth).
By the end of the week I was all twisted up and standing on my head alone while he walked around me chanting and wafting incense. Yoga in India is very different than the U.S. It’s difficult but very rewarding… and very early in the A.M. so the sun rises during class.
Prakesh is from 8-9 A.M. which is later than most classes I took and 7 to 8 P.M. I went twice a day. Prakesh is located at Chandpole, near Dadiya Devra Temple, cell no. 9660567621.
Get henna done after, have some tea, and get to bed early for tomorrow’s yoga!
I didn’t do one here because I was headed north but signs were up all around offering them. I did trek in many other locations in India and it’s a great way to get out of town and usually a tour guide will teach you more about his hometown.
If you can’t manage to budget in a trek while in Udaipur, like me, then find a replacement. Do some physical activity like jumping jacks or push ups and take a walk after to take in the scenery. I literally hate working out, but for some reason while backpacking I do a little bit each day. That, along with eating on a budget and carrying a heavy bag leaves me in the best shape after a trip.
5. Get an Indian massage.
Traditional Indian deep tissue massages are a little painful but so enjoyable. If you do not ask for deep tissue you will be given an Ayurvedic oil massage. These are all about getting blood flow all around your body to the tips of your fingers and toes, to rejuvenate you.
They drip oil nonstop, some literally have a second person continuously pouring the oil. Once I got one in a women’s basement and she used… cooking oil. I didn’t want to be rude, so I let her then took a 2 hour shower. You can also learn massage here like I did in McLeod Ganj, but probably only Indian massage.
500 rupees is a fair price for an hour massage from someone on the street. In a real shop you could pay 700 rupees. I wouldn’t pay 1,000 because you can for sure get a cheaper massage. This is the same all over Rajasthan (although not in hotels and spas). You will feel like a new person after your massage and your budget will still be intact.
6. Boat Tour & Museum.
The tour is around the floating palace in Lake Pichola. I found this a little lame… I could see it just fine from the shore, but they do let you get off at an island (Jag Mandir, not the main Lake Palace) You have about 10 minutes to get back on the boat and one girl got bitten by a snake!!!
On the side, it was only 100 rupees, 200 at City Palace if you have a camera (do yourself a favor and skip the last one).
7. Watch the evening’s traditional dancing.
As the kids go up and down the lines across each other, they spin, jump and tap sticks against each other sticks to the beat of the music for over two hours. It’s amazing and actually sprung up some happy tears.
8. Shop the Hippie markets.
Ask the women working if they can do henna in their homes, or where to get a nice piercing. They are the locals; they can answer all your questions.
Don’t be surprised if when you look at a scarf the owner pulls out 200 others that are similar (same same but different). He’ll unfold them all! But you can’t worry about that- it’s the way they run shops in India.
What to buy? Ali baba pants if you like them, silk scarves (don’t get wool because it’s so hot!), Rajasthani wall hangings, and gold jewelry. I prefer the ear chains and bracelets that connect to rings. You can also pick up silk skirts, silver bangles, and camel leather.
Udaipur is where I picked up bean-bag shells that are hand sewed patches of traditional Indian designs. They were 100 rupees a piece. What a steal! Some might read this and think “shopping isn’t soul searching” if you think that, then you’re not doing it right. Just kidding, sort of; I find shopping peaceful and finding gifts for myself and others makes me extremely happy!
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