While we have done fairly well in keeping our pace up around India we have found it to be slightly harder to get around than other places we have visited. While everyone is friendly and helpful the heat and the franticness of the place just make travelling fairly exhausting. Also as we haven’t prebooked and are just seeing where the wind takes us we are doing a lot of travelling on local buses with no air conditioning but plenty of people. This is definitely fantastic in terms of meeting people and experiencing the real India and also great for the budget as it is incredibly cheap. However I would suggest to anyone that pre booking some trains in India would be very helpful, even first class luxury is cheaper than a regular seat in the West.
Anyway we haven’t and the upshot is that we have decided to take a couple of days off here and there and today was one of them. We were laughing with each other that luxury is now defined by the existence of air conditioning and a room which had been recently painted and had new sheets. Still escaping the heat and the hectic energy for a day was nice.
Having said all that we couldn’t spend the whole day doing nothing so ventured out to see the Laxmi Vilas Palace which still housed the Gujarat Royal family but was open to visitors. The palace is set in the middle of the city and is surrounded by a golf course which was immaculate and incredibly green. The only people we saw on the course were gardeners and it didn’t look like it was ever used at all.
The Palace had a magnificent exterior with incredible detail having been carved into every facade. The interior was impressive too and a couple of rooms in particular were spectacularly regal and resplendent in their decoration. There was a grandness and opulence to the place and you could easily imagine decadent royal parties taking place within the walls. We enjoyed a tour through the palace (once again no other tourists) but unfortunately couldn’t take any photos.
On the way back to the hotel we thought we would chance our arm and try and find a shop we had heard of that sold hand printed fabric. We found a shop bearing the same name down a dusty street but weren’t exactly convinced it was the right place. We arrived and started looking at the saris and cloths and a man asked us if we would like to see the factory upstairs. We followed him up a narrow dirty staircase to the top two floors of the shop where there were about ten men using wooden blocks to “block print” fabrics. The process was simple, take your wooden block with its design (there were hundreds of different blocks with various designs) then dip it in paint and stamp it on the fabric. The guys were all really friendly and enjoyed showing us what they did.
We had one last point of call which was the bus station where we hoped to find out how to get to Udaipur. It was a surprisingly modern bus station and we asked around to see what was going to be possible without much luck so decided to split the journey into two and head first to Ahmedabad.
The next morning we awoke and both looked at each other and decided to stay in luxury. Lazy we know but we don’t have many lazy days and we did very very little apart from recharge. We attempted to go for a walk around a park which turned out to have a large zoo but we weren’t feeling the love. We sought air conditioning and ended up in a modern shopping mall but have to admit we were soon back in the hotel room relaxing. Deliciously lazy.
So feeling refreshed we shall head to Ahmedabad tomorrow. T
The Laxmi Vilas Palace, so wide we couldn’t quite fit the whole facade in one photo.
The side entrance.
The not quite so grand Baroda Print shop.
The inside of the Block Printing factory.
The street we were staying just off of in Vadodara.