Udaipur, site of the James Bond movie “Octopussy”, started with an amazing cultural show – which now I feel I can be an official judge of simply because every night we’ve seen similar cultural shows. This one topped them all by quite a bit.
(unfortunately we don’t have the name as it was part of the tour but for those interested it was very near the city palace) All the shows we’ve seen have the standard woman dancing with the bowls on her head, walking on glass and knives, bending over backwards to grab money with her teeth, and a puppet show. We even had some variations as we saw one woman grab a razor and a needle with her eyelid. But this, probably because it was an actual ticketed show, felt much more classy and less touristy. The dances were explained before in English, which was helpful, and the puppet show, which up to this point had been somewhat annoying with the “yip” of the whistle constantly blowing in the puppeteer’s mouth, was actually entertaining and funny. The ending of the show was on older woman doing the traditional bowl dancing but she didn’t stop at the normal 4-6 bowls but instead went up to an amazing 10! By the time she was finished the bowls on her head were more than the height of her body. It was nice to see an older woman performing (and enjoying it) and doing it in a regal way.
After the show we had dinner on a rooftop restaurant (many many in the area) and enjoyed the view of the famous Lake Palace (where some of the Bond footage was filmed – Octopussy’s lair for those that recall!) and night lights – definitely one of the most romantic and exotic places in India.
The next day we went to the city palace for a tour which was… crowded. It was the last couple of days of holiday for Indians and this place was packed. Imagine crowded narrow hallways and steps in the heat moving in a single file line being yelled at by guards if you try to cut. This was as close to claustrophobic as I’ve come. Then came a great part – going back to the hotel and sitting by the pool for a few hours reading (The Brothers K comes highly recommended). This was a great contrast to the crowded exhaustion of the palace.
Overall Udaipur felt the most exotic of all the Indian cities we visited with the views of the lake and the rooftop restaurants (and maybe just the thought of James Bond?!). We purchased some spices at a famous clock market which we look forward to using in the near future!