maharajah of the road

Day 6

Maharajah of the road

Muscle cars


Day 6

- Text +

From Udaipur to Narlai

Narlai is a beautiful town surrounded by Aravalli Ranges and is located in Pali District, Rajasthan.

This quaint little hamlet is dotted with beautiful old temples, step wells and marble archways. Narlai is about 125km north of Udaipur. Narlai, situated at the base of a hillock, on the top of which is a colossal statue of an elephant, is a major Jain pilgrim center.The name Narlai is derived from `Narad'. It is believed that saint Narada - a constant companion of Lord Vishnu, mediated on a hill which lies at the center of the village. Major tourist attraction is the Baijnath Mahadev Temple, Hinglaj Mata Temple, Neminath Temple and Adinath Temple.Other tourist interest in and around the town include the Kumbhalgarh Sanctuary, Kumbalgarh Fort, Tapeshwar Mahadev Temple, Charbuja and Adinath temples, Sadri - a Jain pilgrim center and Ghanerao (30 km). Bhamargini, a unique rocky cave which can house thousands of people, is also worth visiting.

Wednesday 21st January 2009

All timings according to Indian Standard Time – IST


We wake up to a breathtaking sight. Those of us lucky enough to get rooms facing the lake are truly fortunate. The first thing to meet our eyes as we get up is the incredible sight of the mild morning sunlight shining off the placid waters of lake Pitchola. To see the sunlight shimmering on the ripples on the lake is something that is hard to get out of our minds. What a fabulous start to another exciting day on the road!


The agenda for today is that we have an interview to film with the Princess of Udaipur, and then we can all head to the next destination, the little village of Narlai. We get a message that tells us to come down to the reception area, so we can all go over to meet the Princess. An enterprising young woman, who has broken out of the traditional mould, and carved her own destiny, she manages the workings of the Shiv Niwas Palace hotel. And it is important to mention at this point, that she has earned her position. This is not a case of a simple inheritance based job, the princess, who has studied abroad, worked at the Hilton Hotels, practically as a no body, to gain the expertise and experience required to execute a project the scale and momentum as the running of the Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel. A very humble and approachable person, the princess surprised us all by her simplicity. We are all fortunate to have been able to meet her.


The interview finished, we now head back to the hotel area, to pick up our bags, and leave for Narlai. Narlai is a little village roughly 2-3 hours from Udaipur. It is centrally located from both Kumbhalgarh Fort, and the Jain Temple at Ranakpur. So it’s a very good idea to make Narlai our base, and work out of there. We are now getting into the cars to start driving down to Narlai.


On the road to Narlai. It is definitely going to take more than 2-3 hours, thanks to the numerous pit stops that we are making to assist the direction team, and help them make a good film.


Still on the road. The drive is quite fantastic as we are driving though mountains and hilly regions at the moment. This is a visual treat, as can be seen by the various videography and still picture teams running around trying to make the most of our situation right now.


We are now passing through Monkey territory. These are really clever and agile monkeys, called langurs, in the local dialect. Very well known for their viciousness and aggression, which we can clearly see as they try and jump on some of the cars.


The yellow GT500, nicknamed Sweetlime has encountered technical difficulties, and has had to stop on the way. However we continue moving on, hoping that the problems get fixed soon and Sweetlime can join us.


Looks like we have finally entered the village of Narlai. Our first impression of it is that this is a quaint little village, with not much to see or do here. However, there seem to be a lot of pigs here! Its so unusual, we all crack up! Big pigs, little pigs, all sorts of pigs!


Wow, the hotel we are at, is fantastic! Were all getting a little overwhelmed at the amazingly diverse excellence of every hotel we’ve stayed at. This ones a refurbished Haveli (cottage or bungalow residence with a courtyard in the centre) that used to be the winter home of the Maharana of Udaipur. After over two centuries of neglect, the Haveli was a little more than a ruined, crumbling shell, when the owner of the property, the famous Indian designer, Mr. Raghuvendra Rathod, decided to do it up, and try and market it an exclusive heritage hotel. And he did a good job of it too! The Haveli is built by the side of a barren rock-hill, and is an enclosed haven for the intrepid traveler. The entry courtyard is an expanse of white pebbles, which form such a visual respite from the miles and miles of sandy landscape that we’ve been passing by. The colors are all very harmonious, with dark browns, meeting whitewashed whites, and pale sea blues seamlessly. Very nice…


If the outside of the hotel was fantastic, the rooms are mind-blowing!! They look like something out of another time, a bygone era, an age of romance and intrigue, and of impossible things… This might be the nicest place any of us has ever stayed at…


Dinner’s on the terrace, under the stars tonight. With the rock hill to our side. Maybe if were lucky, we can hear some local legends and stories tonight. The setting is just perfect for some storytelling tonight…


Lovely dinner of the local food on the Haveli terrace. The quest for storytelling pays up, as we find out that the rocky hill beside the hotel has a charming little story of its own. As we all sit underneath our incomparable ceiling of a trillion bright stars, the hotel Manager tells us that the hill that we can see looming over the entire village, has a white elephant at the top of it. Understandably puzzled, we ask him to explain further. There are two stories to explain the elephant. The first one sounds sensible enough to be factual. A barren hill besides a home is considered to be unlucky, and unfavorable. So, when the king built his Haveli besides the rocky hill, he built a stone elephant at the top of it, to add a living element to the barrenness of the rocks that form the hill. So, the elephant as a symbol of life, and prosperity, as befits a king was placed, to be a symbol of both life and vigilance over the land for ever. Another charming story for the logbook... The other line of thought is quite as charming as well. Some 300 – 400 years ago, the then Maharana’s daughter had a pet elephant, that was a white elephant. Due to some unfortunate accident, the elephant takes ill, and eventually dies. The princess is inconsolable at the loss of her pet, and nothing and no one can convince her to see reason. The heart broken princess refuses to touch a morsel of food to her lips, much to the concern and consternation of her parents. In a flash of brilliance, the Maharana comes up with an ingenious solution to the problem. He begs his daughter to give him some time, and he will bring back her beloved elephant to her. The daughter consents, and awaits her lost friend. A while later, the king unexpectedly shows up at the princess’s apartment, and asks her to accompany him somewhere. The princess, full of trepidation, barely breathes, unsure of what to expect. The king walks her to the terraced area of the Haveli, and points upwards, towards the top of the rocky hill. The princess looks up, and gasps in surprise and happiness, for what does she find perched on top of the hill? Her beautiful white elephant!!! The king, in his practical wisdom, resolved the situation with tact. He built the princess an elephant who would neither age, nor die, forever watching over her, and the town, and always visible from every home in the vicinity of the mountain. Hmm…

A glimpse of another age… of bygone values and philosophies… On this note, let us part for the night. For tomorrow is another day of great potential, for we scale forts, and what not!

Maharajah of the Road

equus world