Sunrise in God’s Own Country
Sunrise, sitars and stars
I woke to the world sliding past and a knock at the door of the cabin, followed by an urgent insistence, ‘wake up sir, wake up…sunrise…sunrise’ attempting to clear the sleep from my voice I feigned my alertness and promptly re-acquainted myself with the pillow for another five minutes. We were jolted from our sleep stupor by a rapid fire rap on the door…‘sir, sir…it’s sunrise, will be gone soon, come quickly’. Dashing out with cameras in hand to capture a glorious orb hovering over India gently waking the nation from its slumber. The horizon shimmered into a set of complete beauty, lush forests fringing the network of rivers and lagoons, wildlife calling the day into being and fishing boats searching for catch of the day. Climbing higher the sun signalled the show was over and peering at our watches, our body clock ordered us back to bed for a couple of hours. We breakfasted on boiled eggs and toast and docked in Allepey to continue our journey on to Udaipur, Rajasthan via Cochin airport.
The security checks were tighter than Tom Jones’s trousers and after being frisked, searched, and scanned we were in the air courtesy of Jet Airways arriving in Udaipur, that evening we were greeted by our driver Satpal for the next leg of our adventure. Carving through the hills to Udaipur, our abode for the night, a Maharana’s palace, Fateh Prakash lining the shore of the romantic Lake Pichola. A beautiful 16th century palace, resplendent of Mewari opulence, carved archways, vibrant hand painted friezes, chandeliers dripping with light and terraces detailed in finery and elegance. After checking into our stately room for the night, we went in search for sustenance and stumbled across a secluded courtyard serving Mughal inspired cuisine. Exquisitely charged with soft golden light, candles gathered together in copses bouncing a warm glow against the walls, throwing up their offering to the open sky. Stars swayed to the seductive marriage of tabla, sitar and flute and the beguiling sound transported us to the courts of a bygone Indian aristocracy. Meanwhile we savoured the taste of nobility tucking into a luscious mutton curry with tandoori chapattis. Sitting in the cool air we warmed ourselves with Rajasthani shawls a mug of Bournvita and drank in the moment…pure contentment.
There’s very few places I’d rather be..