Udaipur Diaries: Krishna Ranch
Udaipur charmed me. I was wooed. The breathtaking rooftop views of endless mountains in the distance; the sense of vibrancy surrounding the picturesque lakes; the constant buzz of activity; the chilled out meandering cows; the enchanting architecture; the striking colors of fruits, vegetables and women donned in exquisite saris; the maze of winding streets and even the outrageous traffic scenarios – I was enthralled by it all. Udaipur re-welcomed me to India and to this travel journey, in a whole new way. I was beginning to feel quite at home here.
I was being picked up at 10 am for my next jaunt. Eager as I was for what lay ahead, I was sad to be moving on so quickly. I hadn’t even visited City Palace or biked around the lakes. Greeted by the driver who would take me to Krishna Ranch where I would be staying for one evening, I hopped in his car (though sort of wish I arranged to bike instead) and enjoyed his detailed descriptions and unexpected tour-guiding as we exited the bustling city life of Udaipur and made our way through the serene countryside.
Those glorious mountains I gazed at from the rooftops were now right in front me, lush and green. The quiet streets were filled with women in striking colors, each carrying a silver tray as she walked away from yet another religious celebration of sorts.
As we drove through the quiet hills, I saw a couple of high end resorts and a newly constructed, pretty remarkable fort being built by a wealthy family who is apparently in the marble/stone industry. The street became narrower and was lined on both sides with flowers blossoming and fluttering a butterfly welcoming me to this alternate side of Udaipur.
Having entered the grounds of the Krishna Ranch, I exited the car and was welcomed by a beautiful stable full of horses. Francine (originally from Holland) came to meet me and while I became intoxicated by the nature sounds and beautiful grounds, she showed me my cottage, a very clean, tastefully decorated room with a queen size bed, seating area with chairs and table, a daybed alcove sitting section surrounded by windows and an outdoor seating area for taking in the unending splendor. The spacious modern bathroom looked pretty good too (still beyond grateful for my digestive health!)
Over a delicious cup of aromatic tea, we sat at the long wooden table in the main open-air structure and officially checked me in to this picture-perfect farm setting where I would be the only guest during this slow travel season (they’re pretty much booked during other times. I can’t imagine it being more beautiful – although I guess when the trees are filled with mangoes and other luscious fruits, it probably isn’t too bad here!) I met Dinesh, her horse-loving Indian husband and we all shared stories of travel, farming/gardening and more. I enjoyed a peaceful rest before being served a delicious home-cooked meal using almost all Krishna or otherwise locally-grown, organic ingredients.
An inordinate amount of food was served and I did my best to make a dent in it, dining to a chorus of chirping birds and a rich green scene in every direction. I was thrilled to see a beautiful shelf unit full of real, paper books. I don’t care how much books weigh, I can’t imagine using an e-reader in this serene atmosphere. I meandered the grounds for a bit, saying hello to the camel, horses, goats and chickens and then rested and read a bit more.
At 3:30, I met up with Dinesh, donned my helmet and climbed upon a beautiful horse to begin an excursion around the countryside. I haven’t had too many horse back riding experiences so it took us a bit of time to become comfy with one another, though once we did, the sound of clicking horse steps became truly meditative. We rode on dirt paths, passing through farmland and small villages, children of all ages greeting me with big hellos and goodbyes. Dinesh was a wonderful guide and pointed interesting things out along the way, from types of trees to methods of farming to the antelopes and peacocks roaming the fields.
We returned to the ranch and we all, including the horses, got ready to relax and have some dinner. A special pile of sand was set up for the horses to each have a quick roll in before settling in for the eve.
I chilled out at my villa, taking in the array of nature sounds and the diminishing light. Animals I couldn’t begin to identify howled and cooed in the distance. I learned later that I was probably hearing monkeys. The night sky now dark, I couldn’t bear to turn on my lights and was beyond ecstatic for this tranquility.
I returned to the beautiful wooden table where I was served yet another gorgeous home-cooked meal prepared by Narayani. I was delighted to have her join me while I ate and loved hearing her stories about her life as a woman in Udaipur. My thali-style meal included mutar panner, dahl, chapatti (with flour made right here), halwa (absolutely amazing) and her home-made pickled sauces. They also offer me a steady flow of filtered water.
Thrilled to not have WiFi, I retreated to my villa for some reading, writing and full mind/body restoration. I had to pinch myself a couple of times to ensure this was all for real and continued counting my blessings for somehow landing in this magical world of wonder.
Inviting as my villa’s bed was, I longed for a tent to savor in the fresh night breeze and twinkling stars above. I figured it out – I opened all of the windows and set up my mosquito net in the day bed area, barely separated from the steady sounds of nature and the mountain views I would wake to see as a new day dawned. And so it did.
A breakfast spread to dream of – fresh made yogurt, brilliant red pomegranate, pieces of papaya, toast with more of that delicious butter, eggs, Chai, bananas, apples and of course some filtered water.
I spent a bit more time with Francine & Dinesh and asked them about the intense sounds I heard last night, loud rustling and two bursts of mysterious animal screams. Did a chicken just get killed? Did it wake from a bad nightmare? They suggested it was likely a peacock killed by some type of wildcat or possibly a leopard. The farm property abuts the wildlife preserve and many have been spotted. Startling as it was, it sure beats the sound of cop cars in NYC.
Just a few minutes before my ride would pick me up. Intrigued and animated for what I knew would be another wondrous chapter, I couldn’t help but but mourn the end of my time at the beautiful Krishna Ranch. I took many deep breaths and inhaled the healing tranquility I vowed to carry with me. I am also sending sweet little doses of it to you all.
Thank you universe.
Thank you India Someday.
Thank you You Wander We Pay.