There is no doubt that Udaipur is one of the most sought after tourist destination in India; but this city has lot to offer other than the highly glamorised palaces and lakes.
The city hosts lot of tourists throughout year and generates employment opportunities for locals and MNCs. In last few months of my stay here as a fellow, and hence tasting it in various ways, I discovered Udaipur like no other tourist destination ever. I have been to hills and beaches in most parts of India – but all of those trips were planned and well researched. Whatever I saw was available on Google search, it was just like a second hand experience.
I have been living in one of the blocks of Udaipur for last eight months and frequently travel to other places nearby for work purposes. Recently, I traveled to Barwara and it was a heck of a surprise to me as it was totally unplanned and nobody ever told me what an exotic location it was. Not just the location but the solo bike ride from Gogunda to Tula via Paner was an experience of a lifetime. Stay with me as I talk about it here.
It was a sunny day with some possibilities of a drizzle,.I started my journey from the Gogunda-Udaipur highway, took break from the service lane towards village Vani. With no internet service at disposal and being technologically disabled, I felt little bit scared of the unknown roads and negligible traffic. It took a bit of faith and confidence to turn on the gas and shift gears and move towards the destination. This was the first time I was driving on a hilly terrain. It was like a roller coaster ride, the cool breeze reflecting from the hills felt soothing and worth the risk. The road to Tula were beautiful with myriad fall colours of trees offering a panoramic view of the hills and rivers flowing through it.
Like most good views, I do not have a picture of what I describe and the best I can offer you are words. I was too occupied to click, as you might have noticed.
I stopped by a river bank to get some rest and peace from the annoying noises of the city. The laminar flow of river over the rocks was well designed by nature. Same river which might have at some point reflected the sight of wrath during monsoon has now surrendered to the heat. I met Mr. Champa Ram Gameti at the river bank who was also taking rest from his daily chores. His goats were grazing on the dry river bed and he was chilling around with a bottle of Mahua. He offered me a sip of his poison but I had to decline politely (which I think I should have tried just for the sake of memory).
I did not want to leave such a beautiful sight but time was running and I had to reach Tula as soon as possible. I picked my bag, put on my helmet and started again. Within few kilometres there was a diversion and I got stuck in the mid of the road with so called smartphone loaded with Ambani’s 4G network; but offering no aid at all. After waiting for ten minutes I saw few men with camels coming from the opposite direction. At that time I could literally see reflection of God in them. I asked for the directions and offered lift to one of them till Barwara. Finally, I could see a market place after miles. I stopped by to activate my nicotine receptors to release some dopamine. Now that Jio was alive in their catchment area, I utilised it to the fullest. Turned on my GPS, downloaded the map and moved on.
Distance between Barwara and Tula was not long but the most exotic one in this road trip. Riding under the shadow of hills with so many blind spots was fun and thrilling. It was one of the road less traveled where fortunately development has not seeped in. Otherwise who knows the sight of heavy machinery would have distorted everything which nature has kept for a wandering traveler. This experience reminded me of a verse from ‘A thing of beauty is joy forever’ composed by John Keats
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink
I just hope this endless fountain doesn’t go dry and we take much longer than i fear to reach here with our ‘modern’ tools and thoughts.
*** Featured Image by Prerna Nijhawan (2019 Cohort India Fellow) of a sunset in Udaipur