The House by the lake


As we scouted hotels near Lake Picchola, we were caught between conflicting traveller reviews—those that spoke of magical lake views, and others that complained of poor hygiene and stench. Considering that we were traveling to a city with lots of water, during monsoon, we decided to keep ourselves away from Lal Ghat.

We browsed through OYO rooms and zeroed in on the cryptic “OYO Homes 062 Fatehsagar Lake”. For reasons better known to OYO, the website does not provide the exact name of the hotel or the location without a confirmed booking!*

After confirming our booking, we looked for reviews of the property. There weren’t as many ratings of the house as compared to the other hotels, but all of them positive. Well, we would find out for ourselves.


Our flight landed in Udaipur half an hour before time; the air was cool, much cooler than the muggy national capital we had left behind; the scenic Aravalli range surrounded us throughout the drive to the city—a beautiful start to our trip.

Our talkative cabbie, Chetan, seemed to know a lot of touristy information on Udaipur—as did all the other rickshaw drivers we rode with. One would think they were all getting paid to promote tourism! None of them, however, had heard of Khudala House. So, we followed the map and gave directions. When we were near our destination, we caught sight of water for the first time—and what a beauty she was! As our eyes feasted on the beautifully blue Fateh Sagar Lake, growing ever wider in front of us, the GPS lady quietly said, “turn left, and you will arrive at your destination.”

Khudala House
You have reached your destination.

We hopped off our cab and walked around the driveway. The property may not have had a lake view, but it was royally beautiful. Walking to the right, we were greeted by a row of statues posing against a great green leafy wall.

Musicians
Musicians

Ahead of us was a neat lawn and dining tables surrounded by flowering plants and bonsais.

Too early for dining
Waiting for diners

And behind the lawn was the grand entrance to the house.

1559AD

Our host, Mr. Dhanajai Singh, later informed us that the house was built in 1941 by his grandfather. About 35 years ago, his father, and present owner Capt. Jaiveer Singh added more rooms. The majestic original structure has now been leased to the restaurant 1559AD.

We walked back to the front gate and towards the newer, smaller (relatively speaking, of course) building on left of the driveway. A loose curtain of painted bottles and a stone wall decorated with divine statues marked the division between the old and new.

Divider

Here too, the visual delight continued. A beautiful lawn outlined by balsams in full bloom and surrounded by dozens of bonsais.

Lawn and porch in front of the rooms
Fresh after a spell of rain, the lawn awaits company

Our host graciously allowed us a complimentary early check-in and gave us very helpful tips on sightseeing in Udaipur, including the recommendation of a morning walk at Fateh Sagar, and advice of exploring the Old City on foot.

Plants, great and small
A few of the many leafy occupants of the house

Our room was spacious and included a big bathroom, a dressing room and our own backyard! We ate home-cooked breakfast in a common dining room filled with interesting objects and memorabilia. Abhay, the soft-spoken housekeeper who single-handedly looks after all the rooms, took care of all our requirements. And then there was Bully, the boxer, whose droopy eyes looked at us curiously (I heard him bark only once). The owners were very warm; and sans the presence of impersonal staff and eerie hallways that are characteristic of hotels, we felt at ease during our stay.

The restaurant 1559AD is as beautiful inside as it is outdoors. We were too busy admiring the ambience and relishing the food to take any pictures (actually, we had left our phones behind in our room next door, and regretted it!)

Way to the back
Path leading to the back

Rickshaw drivers did not know where Khudala House was. So we had to use nearby landmarks to explain where we were staying. Once we came to the T-point in front of Fateh Sagar, we told our driver, “turn left, and its right there!” “Yeh to 1559AD hai,” (this is 1559AD) our driver said. “You should told me this before.”

During the three days we spent in Udaipur, we were mostly tourists. But at the end of the day, we came home.

Playing around
Playing around

* When I did a new search a little while back, our comfy homestay’s name was very much mentioned—though there were other properties with cryptic names. I don’t know if this hiding of names is a random thing. Any ideas why OYO does this? If you know anyone there, could you ask them to change this?

Photos taken with Motorola Moto G3. Click / tap on the image to enter my Flickr photostream.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Treat


I’ve always had a soft corner for birds. But it’s always been a challenge to photograph them near my house. They hardly sit still long enough to allow me to take a picture. The birds in the jungle though seemed to be quite extroverted.

The Jungle Babblers, which are so restless in the city, didn’t seem to be afraid of us at all. One sat right next to us on our Gypsy, while a few more were perched atop the wind shield. Looking at the pictures, I suppose they were probably angry because we were trespassing their territory.

We spotted a Rufous Treepie at the exact same spot under a bush three times. I suspect it was looking after a nest, although I didn’t find one.

There were several Bulbuls too — some that allowed me to come real close. As strange as it sounds, I’d never been so close to them before in my life. And in my greed to capture a close-up, I didn’t get a clean shot at all.

Here are a few shots I did get.
Click on a picture to view larger size.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Treat.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Careful


‘Look! Peacock feathers!
Can I take one to keep?’

‘Wait! I’ll get it!
You must stay in the Jeep.’

It’s dangerous out there.
Wild creatures only pretend to sleep.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

A poor imitation of a poem by Robert Frost


Continuing with photographs from the Sariska Wildlife Reserve, here are a few photographs for this week’s photo challenge. Click on a picture to view larger size.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Careful.”

WPC: Today Was a Good Day


A photo story…

Waking up to the smell of fresh filter kaapi

Filter Kaapi
Perhaps the best coffee I have tasted – in Vaideeswaran Koil, Tamil Nadu

The sight of beautiful flowers on my way to work

Bougainvillea
Bougainvillea growing wild

Getting hands-on experience at work

Independence Day Decor
Lending a hand for the office decoration

Attending productive meetings, seminars and conferences

Meeting Boats
A conference note-boat (how I wish I had thought of it!)

Coming home to see a dream come to life

Kolam T-Shirt
T-shirt with my mom’s kolam, printed by MyDreamStore

And to end a day on a sweet note, a cake — or two!

Two Cakes
Celebrating my dad’s birthday with a cake baked at home, and one from the bakery

To see what a good day means to other bloggers, visit the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge

She strings seashells of the seashore


This morning I strung up yet another set of seashells to hang up next to the curtains. Here’s a closer look at just a few of the beauties. Take a wild guess what surface the background is!

seashells
Seashells on a string – close up

Take a closer look at what others around the blogosphere are capturing at the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge

PS: I love seashells

On the way


On our road trip to my grandfather’s house last year, we were treated to some amazing scenery — palms and plantains; paddy fields and elephant grass; street art and intricate architecture; flowing rivers and the magnificent ocean…

Here are two of my favourite photographs from the trip, shot through the window of our car.

For more images of journeys by bloggers from around the world, don’t forget to check out the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge : On the way

Art from scrap


It was on the first of March, a Sunday, that our family got together. It was after such a long time that we went out together, that we joked that it would rain. And sure enough, it did! Little did we know, that it was the beginning of a very strange phenomenon. Not only on that day, but almost every subsequent Sunday, it rained.

North India has witnessed, over the past two months, unpredictable weather, and many crops have been damaged due to this unseasonal rain. Vrindavan, it appears had its own share of golf-ball sized hail storm, if the pictures shared on WhatsApp are to be believed*.

Is this weather a result of climate change? I don’t know. But it definitely seems eerie.

A few weeks back, I was at the India Habitat Centre, where I saw a very interesting art installation, and seemed to fit in rather well with the issue at hand. Delhi-based artist Gopal Namjoshi combined scrap iron to create a garden, to highlight the importance of ecological conservation. The garden included flowers, small birds, deer and peacocks, as well as a man resting on a chair!

Below are a few snapshots of the installation.

For more about the artist, please visit Gopal Namjoshi’s Website

Related News Article: Installations made from scrap

* Images of the Vrindavan hailstorm – Any of you received these images on WhatsApp?

Death by chocolate!


A sweet entry
Large Candy at the exit of Chennai Airport

Being late December, it was no surprise to see Christmas Trees decorating the airports of Delhi and Chennai. But I should have known the large candy sticks at the exit of Chennai Airport were more than just festive decorations – they were a sign of things to come!

We ate out almost everyday. And for every meal there was dessert! Adirsam, Mysore pak, Jangiri, Badusha, Kesari and many types of Payasams accompanied the traditional meals.  We tried out the local soan papdi sold by a street vendor in Mylapore. And ice cream at the beach was a must.

One particular day, we had a double doze of chocolate. One of the desserts was a sizzling brownie, topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, at Haven Sampoorna. The other was ‘Death by chocolate’ at Tangerine.

It was hard to resist the temptation to dig into these beauties. And after eating, I couldn’t help but wish for more! There never really can be enough of chocolate, can there? 😉

A Very Happy Deepavali


We hadn’t really planned on making a rangoli this year. It isn’t something we do traditionally.

All that changed, however, when a close friend of mine sent me a photograph of a beautiful rangoli she had made with her sister.

My cousin and I went shopping for colours, and with the help of my mother, drew a rangoli together.

Wishing you all a very very happy and prosperous (and hopefully cracker-free) Deepavali.

Happy Diwali


We mixed up the traditional white stone Kolam powder with colourful Rangoli powders to create a small message. A couple of shots of our little decoration for this year’s Diwali…

Here’s wishing everyone a very happy and prosperous Deepavali!