We left Hampi after 5 nights having had a great time, despite having to spend one night sleeping on a restaurant floor. In order to get to Mumbai, we had to catch 2 trains, one from Hosapete to Hubballi, the other form Hubballi to Mumbai. We booked these trains a week previous costing us a grand total of £8 in Sleeper Class. Hosapete is the closest train station to Hampi, 12km away and costing around 250 Rupees by rickshaw, or a couple of Rupees by bus. We decided to jump in a rickshaw to guarantee we were at the station in time, which was irrelevant as our train was one and a half hours late. This meant we ended up with a 45 minute turn over at Hubballi, rather than over 2 hours. The trains were not too bad, just a little long, with a total of 22 hours travelling. This was our first time in Sleeper Class which wasn’t a bad thing, I just wasn’t prepared for the cold. Our previous trains had all been 2AC where you are given bed sheets and can wrap up at night, whereas in the Sleeper Class you are not. I wasn’t prepared for this and spent the whole night shivering in a ball, with a microfiber towel laid on top of me. Being the gentleman that I am I gave Holly the one thick blanket we had.
We arrived in Mumbai around 08:00, surprisingly only 30 minutes late and set about securing a rickshaw to our hotel. We were staying up near Lokmanya Tilak Train Station, around 20 minutes from the airport as we had a flight to Udaipur the following day. We got told all kinds of stories about our hotel by the drivers and that they could take us to a better one. My favourite was that it wasn’t even a hotel, it was a restaurant to which I replied ‘don’t worry, I’m used to sleeping on a restaurant floor’ which of course he didn’t understand. We eventually caught a taxi to our hotel, by the meter costing 89 Rupees, which ended up being in a slightly run down area, even for Indian standards. However the accommodation was ok, it was cheap enough and we got to see parts of local Mumbai. The following morning we caught a rickshaw to the airport, internal flight go from terminal 1B, taking around 20 minutes and costing 148 Rupees by the meter. Our flight to Udaipur was slightly delayed meaning we landed around 19:00. The airport is situated 25km east of the city so we decided to use the pre paid tax service at the airport. I showed the man our hotel address and he quoted 650 Rupees and carried on doing his thing. I didn’t believe him as everywhere in India they up the price for foreigners so I asked to see a price list. He entered the address into his database, the price came up as 650 Rupees, he printed the ticket and we were on our way. I don’t mind paying the money if they can prove that its the correct price, I just don’t like it when they make up numbers to get more money. If we would have turned up earlier in the day we’d of caught a bus into Udaipur, but when its dark and you arrive in a new place, for me its worth paying a little extra money to ensure you arrive safely.
Udaipur was a fantastic place, one of my favourites in India so far. It is set around Lake Pichola, which is so named after the village that was flooded when the water was diverted into the lake years ago. The streets are filled with rooftop restaurants and bars offering fantastic views over the city, lake and surrounding mountains which makes them the perfect place to relax watching the sun go down, the sky exploding into a magnitude of different colours over the rolling mountains. The streets are small and windy with beautiful old building tucked in next to each other which are fantastic to explore, to me each one felt like a different part of Hogwarts. The City Palace is well worth a visit and worth the 250 Rupee entrance fee. It’s worth noting you have to pay an extra 250 Rupees for your camera which you cannot get away without paying for. There are guards situated around the Palace looking for the tag connected to your camera or phone to prove you have paid.
After the Palace you can continue through to the waters edge, where you have to pay another 30 Rupees to explore, but there are some lovely gardens, views of the lake and a restaurant on the waters edge serving very expensive beer. You get a great view of the Taj Lake Palace, which is where Octopussy the James Bond film was partly filmed. Udaipur seems very fond of its James Bond link, there is a classic car collection you can visit with the 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom used in the film and across the footbridge there is a cafe showing the film every evening. It’s worth crossing the bridge to explore the other side as there is a fantastic green area with a coffee shop to relax and take in the views of the Palace from the other side.
I had a fantastic time in Udaipur and it was a great introduction to Rajasthan, I just couldn’t believe how cold it was. I say that, it was 23 degrees but I’ve been so used to 30 degrees plus that I needed a jumper and jeans, especially in the evening. On the rooftops it can get quite windy so it’s worth packing or buying something to keep you warm. From Udaipur we are heading to the holy city of Pushkar, continuing north through this fantastic country.