If there's one place not to miss in India, I believe it's Udaipur. It may not be as recognized as the Taj Mahal, but In 2009, Travel + Leisure magazine voted Udaipur the best city in the world. Typically top 10 lists are a sure bet you'll be let down, but I knew nothing about the city so I had no expectations.
Like so many of my travel plans, the recommendation to go see Udaipur came from a random stranger. Me, and the stranger (traveler turned entrepreneur), were chatting it up at The Bagel Shop in Mumbai. These conversations usually start out a little competitive.
Me: "Where have you been?"
Stranger: "here, there, and one time I went skydiving."
Me: "Wow, sounds amazing!"
(And then the questions are repeated while trying to out do the other)
The conversation then shifted to where my next destination would be. I was telling her how Mumbai is too hot and too populated for my liking. I rattled off a few ideas of where I might head to next. She heard me out and then kindly shot my plans down. Then she started talking about a little town in the heart of Rajasthan. It was surrounded by pristine lakes, mountains that could be trekked, and magical palaces that were still used by a king. I was sold!
Udaipur is known for it's palaces, uniquely shaped windows, lakes, filming of Octopussy and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and of course the king! I was lucky enough to go to the annual Horse Worship Ball at City Palace.
October is a special time to visit because it's the beginning of the festival season. It seemed like there were fireworks and revelry happening every night.
I made a special connection with Udaipur and a large reason why is the kind people of the Greco House. I arrived as a solo traveler, but left with many friends.
Above (1st, 2nd row): Krishna showing me the Sas Bahu Temple, teaching modeling poses, taking me to prayer, and of course, introducing me to the bhang lassie.
Fact: Krishna was on The Bachelor (India) and made it to the top 5. It must have been destiny not to get selected because him and Juliana seem pretty happy now.
Above (3rd row): Tinku, Juliana and the birthday girl. It's customary to smash cake in the face of the birthday person. 3rd picture from the left, Thali (traditional Indian dish). 4th picture, Hindu powder colors. You seem them everywhere around temples and on the foreheads of the people who have prayed that day.
Thank you to Krishna, Juliana, Tinku, Keshu, and the rest of the Greco team!