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  • Sameera Vyas

All Those Who Wander

The best way to gain experience, travel allows you to learn new ways to express yourself while absorbing the views and culture around you. India itself offers some of the best travel destinations and experiences in the world owing to its cultural diversity.

In my opinion the best way to travel is ‘slow travel’. By this, I mean staying in a place for a few days to absorb the local sights, culture and get a nice feel of the place and its people. Many a time, tour operators take you around a place with whirlwind-like speed, simply ticking off all the tourist spots. While this can help you tick off a location from your list of travels, it will not allow you to create any meaningful memories.

I want to describe one such recent trip that we took in the winter holiday to the City of Lakes – Udaipur.

We decided on getting there via road, which was exciting by itself because I had never been on such a long road trip before. The first day, we stopped over for the night in Ahmedabad, adding to the ‘slow trip’ feel. The next morning, we left at first light for Udaipur, a four-hour car journey away.

Now, after leaving Ahmedabad city on the National Highway, all was calm, straight road with the repetitive view of trees, blue sky, and dusty road, but the moment we entered Udaipur, the scene changed. What used to be wide, long roads became twisting, narrow lanes that turned back on themselves or branched into tiny streets one could barely drive in. Naturally, we got lost. Not even Google Maps could help us. In the end a kind local pointed us in the right direction.

When we reached, though, all our troubles were worth it. The lovely Lake Pichola glittered below the hotel in the afternoon sunlight, and the boats of fellow tourists passed along regularly, filled with an assortment of people.

Near the hotel, perhaps five minutes of a walk away, was a walking bridge to the other side of the lake, where streets chock-full with handicrafts stores stood. Near the bridge was also a lovely little cafe where I had some spaghetti and freshly made garlic bread. Later in the evening, we simply relaxed in the hotel, taking in the calming atmosphere.

Over the next couple of days, we explored the city’s main tourist points. The main one, of course, was the City Palace, established by Maharana Udai Singh II in 1553. Another place we visited was the Saas Bahu temple. It was an old place, and not many people were visiting it, which made it even more peaceful. The Ambrai Ghat was right next to the hotel, so we visited that too.

One thing we observed at every place we visited was the couples taking pre-wedding photos. I’m sure that we photobombed them at some point or another. I could not help but pity the people in short-sleeved dresses trying for that “perfect shot”. There was a chill in the air throughout the trip. On our last night, we went to the other side of the lake and had excellent pizza.

The next morning we returned to Ahmedabad, once again spending the day there. This was the last day of the year, and I spent it enjoying a flower show - although there were only a few showpieces. It was more of a very pretty garden, not a flower show, but I liked it just the same. I spent the countdown to the new year in bed with bated breath thinking of how the next year would go.

The next day, we drove back. I am sure I will cherish the memories I made during the trip for the rest of my life. However, I can’t help but wonder: where will I go next?

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