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While we all #stayin due to the current situation around COVID-19, reminiscing, and dreaming about our past and future travels are totally acceptable. Don’t we all love to vicariously live through our favourite travel bloggers’ amazing travel stories? Through #TNLRevisits, we get your most loved travel bloggers to spill the beans about their favourite places, off-the-radar destinations, and about countless other experiences that they have encountered through their journeys. Social media savvy hotelier Akshayraj Singh Shaktawat tells us what makes Udaipur stand out and why he loves staying at the Jagat Niwas Palace. By Amitha Ameen
1. Tell us about your fondest trip of 2019?
Crossing ‘Christmas in New York’ off my bucket list last year was pretty special. But in the same breath, I’d like to say that we sell our cities, culture, and heritage short. I’d count my staycations at Jagat Niwas Palace, Udaipur with some of the biggest influencers from India and abroad as really fun and interactive trips. Even more so now, in the wake of the pandemic looming over the travel industry, we should promote domestic tourism and combine efforts to sustain our culture and the legacy of Indian hospitality.
2. If you have to revisit the same place once travel bans are lifted, how differently would you explore the place this time around?
Instead of travelling overseas, I would rather re-explore our very own spectacular cities including my hometown – Udaipur – the city of lakes! I believe that travel will be more experiential as opposed to ticking things off a must-see list. I hope I am able to do exactly that and watch sunsets pass from the rooftop of Jagat Niwas Palace, which is overlooking the Lake Pichola in Udaipur.
3. Tell us about some memorable interaction with locals here.
4. Tell us about some hidden gems of Udaipur.
Udaipur is all about that old-world charm and quaint lifestyle. I’d highly suggest you get a local guide who knows their way around the many lakes and the beautiful drives! Udaipur has a pretty cool street shopping experience to offer. Jeep rides from Fateh Sagar to the Badi Lake. Boat rides in the Pichola. Being a tourist-friendly destination, you do get to make friends from all over the world too!
5. Any particular local food that you would like to recommend?
When you are in Rajasthan, it’d be criminal to miss out on a good Rajasthani thali. I love the Rajasthani cuisine at Jagat Niwas Palace because it is well-researched, organic, and not run-of-the-mill dishes. My favourites would be the Ker Sangri and the Khada Lehsooni Palak. But do not be mistaken as there is a variety of cuisine to be found in this property which does Italian and Thai food really well!
6. Give our readers five reasons on why should they visit this place once the pandemic evaporates?
– Landscape Lovers: Nicknamed “Venice Of The East”, Udaipur truly stands up to the name with seven major lakes scattered in and around Udaipur while the city itself is nestled strategically in the middle of the oldest hill ranges in India – The Aravallis. James Tod did dub the city as the “most romantic spot on the continent of India”.
– Culture Seekers: “Living Heritage” embodies the spirit of Udaipur. You can see it in the way of dressing and talking, the dance forms, the handicrafts and textiles, the hospitality, and even when interacting with the street vendors!
7. How are you coping with the lockdown?
I have been hitting the refresh button every day but the pandemic doesn’t seem to go! I’d like to start off by saying that there is no pressure for being super-productive at this time but I have spent my time in creating a lot of imagery and developing my skills as a content creator. I have taken out time to re-organise everything at work and at home. We, as a family have been trying to do our bit for the community as well! But it’s actually been great to just re-connect with myself and my family as we are all finally under one roof again!
8. Where would you travel to when things get back to normalcy?
I cannot wait to go to the Himalayas which I was planning on before the pandemic hit. I was looking forward to a quiet retreat but you could say I got my wish in another form because of the lockdown! But snow-capped mountains, I will be seeing you soon!