Our second day in beautiful Udaipur began with an early breakfast at one of the neighbourhood cafés, before we jumped into a car destined to drive us to Ranakpur where we wished to see the famous Jain temple. Since the car’s AC made the sound of a cat clawing itself to death, the two-hour drive was less than peaceful, but nevertheless we made it to our destination.
The temple itself was breathtaking, with marble pillars and amazingly detailed carvings everywhere. But while it is important to respect religions – especially if you travel to their temples at own will – we had some issues with the general attitude towards visitors. The fact that you need to cover yourself up and that certain parts of the temple are open solely for Jainists is to be expected; the fact that you cannot enter the building while menstruating is not. I know that this is not uncommon within certain religions, and in some ways it is impressive that they manage to keep things just as they were several hundred years ago. But we felt a bit out of place, and I personally felt like an intruder. But it was an incredibly beautiful place nevertheless.
After a bumpy and slightly terrifying ride back to Udaipur (we were driving around in the mountains on thin roads with barely anything between the car and the abyss) we grabbed lunch and went for a stroll before experiencing an amazing Rajasthani dance performance. The dance, which took place outside, included great amounts of twirling, drumming, singing and puppet dancing. One woman in particular stood out and did several difficult “tricks” while carrying an increasing amount of pots on her head. To be honest, it was slightly painful to watch – we could tell that she was struggling with the act, beautiful though it was.
The night ended with some waterpipe smoking (“Shishah”). My references in regards to this activity were previously all from Teheran, where one in a certain part of town can find a mountainesque area with several little cafés that all serve chai alongside the shishah. People sit on Persian rugs, lean back against the tall pillows on the floor, listen to some traditional Iranian music and just have an incredibly serene time.
The joint we went to, however, completely changed my perception of what waterpipe smoking can be like. It was a balcony-type room with blue neon lights, black walls, an enormous poster of a hard rocking Ganesha, an aquarium in the middle of the room and planet stickers all over the ceiling. The chai was replaced by beer and the entire scene felt very high – which, if the readers are interested, seems to be the general vibe in Udaipur. People here are incredibly chill; even the shop owners who call after us don’t seem too stressed out. We even got a confession from one of the Rickshaw drivers, who apparently smokes marijuana every day.
All in all, it was an eventful and fun Sunday. Udaipur is absolutely lovely, and even though I myself grew to like Mumbai quite a lot before we left, it seems as though the group in general prefers Udaipur to Mumbai. I have to admit that it is wonderful to be rid of the insane humidity.
We have barely a week left to go here in India. More posts are promised, so stay tuned!