What do you get when you mix ancient Indian history with a sprinkling of magic, and throw in a big dose of love?
You’re transported into the world of Udaipur, the most romantic city in India, the city where we filmed our first Naudic Campaign film A Love Story, (Part 1).
Udaipur is a city that, when I went there for the first time, captured my heart instantly. I didn’t want to leave. I returned quickly 4 months later to feel it more ... or was it to replay the memories already created? I took a special group of my closest friends with me to celebrate my 50th birthday. I wanted them to experience just a hint of what I had experienced, open their hearts and minds to what’s out there.
This place now has special memories. It’s a place where you could say love has set me free, just like the words in our film’s soundtrack. This is the city that I surrendered to joy, love and felt fulfilment. This is the city where the first hint of why I am doing this and what I really wanted to do, started to reveal itself with some meaning and depth. After all this time, a 2 minute brainstorming conversation with Keyur resulted in the beginning of Round the Globe - a seed was planted, a grand plan to explore the world, with my Naudic friends I had made along the way. We decided to roam unplanned, be in situations, look for inspiration, see where this took us, find answers to … What is beauty? What is love? What is kindness? What is life? In all these countries and how can we show this to the world, by retracing the steps we have walked before.
The first trip to Udaipur was nearly two years ago, with the film crew to shoot a Naudic spring collection. I was so nervous. I had no idea where we were going, or what was about to happen. I just had to follow them around, with my suitcases in tow, filled with samples I had just finished making in Delhi. I knew we had 5 girls to dress, but didn’t know their sizes, and hadn’t met them apart from a brief casting in Mumbai.
When you step off the plane into Udaipur, you feel and see all of these things ... love, kindness and beauty. The air may be hot and dry, but there’s an immediate familiarity, with a faint scent of chai tea - an immediate trigger to my senses. It is a city surrounded by water and mountains, with everything centralised around the city palace. When the palace is lit up at night, it shines like gold. The markets are filled with fantastic giftware and homewares - lovingly made leather bags, cushions, and riches of jewellery. Tuk-tuks get you everywhere you want to go, zipping along the streets to your next destination with starting efficiency. If you want to experience India in it’s authentic self, this is one place to visit.
That first trip turned out perfectly, and this was the turning point - when I knew it was the beginning of something new for myself and Naudic. We spent 3 days shooting, and I loved every single minute ... there was not one moment when I wasn’t fully engaged with the surroundings. Watching everything, the full crew in action, there are photos of me standing like a deer in the headlights. At times, I didn’t know what to do with myself. It was overwhelmingly good.
The hills surrounding Udaipur are special - there is an aura of deep adventure that sits on the middle of the long, winding road, and the forest that surrounds the hills. We started filming there one morning in the dark, and as the mist lifted and the light shone through the trees it took my breath away. I stood there in the cold, sipping chai and watching the first scene of the film come to life. Naudic come to life.
From the luxurious Jagmandir hotel (shooting location of the James Bond movie Octopussy) and the Bagore-ki-Haveli stately home, to the hidden treasures of the picturesque Ambrai Ghat in the lanes of Jagdish temple and Bahubali hills, I’m now well-versed in the unique experiences of Udaipur. Well acquainted with the locals and the sights that are far away from the bustle of tourists, I know the authentic side of the city, able to go beyond the guide books. Our Udaipur offers endless discoveries and inspiration. I love nothing more than introducing others to this special place, helping them feel as much at home as I do.
On the second visit, we were hosted beautifully by the Captain and his crew at Hotel Udaigarh, with rooftop yoga, early evening dinners, and long walks through widey streets lined with stores. It was on these colourful streets and rolling hills that the spark was ignited. Little did I know, this must-see place would be the beginning of not only that. I look forward to sharing another one - in a few senses - with you in the coming weeks.