India · Udaipur
Udaipur, known as the Venice of the East, is the capital of the district of Mewar in Rajasthan, India. Still ruled by a much-respected Maharaja whose magnificent City Palace forms the heart of the city, Udaipur is one of the most impressive cities in Rajasthan. It is famous for its lakes, palaces, forts, temples, gardens, and romantic backdrops. It was the setting of many movies, including the 13th James Bond film, Octopussy. Famous palaces include the magical Lake Palace, now a luxurious five-star hotel, and the massive City Palace on Pichola’s east bank, featuring epic courtyards and stunning paintings.
Beside shimmering Lake Pichola, with the ochre and purple ridges of the wooded Aravalli Hills stretching away in every direction, Udaipur has a romance of setting unmatched in Rajasthan and arguably in all India. Fantastical palaces, temples, havelis and countless narrow, crooked, timeless streets add the human counterpoint to the city’s natural charms. For the visitor there’s the tranquillity of boat rides on the lake, the bustle and colour of ancient bazaars, a lively arts scene, the quaint old-world feel of its better hotels, endless tempting shops and some lovely countryside to explore on wheels, feet or horseback.
The City Palace is set at the southern end of the Aravalli Hills, Udaipur overlooks Lake Pichola with the world-famous Lake Palace appearing to float on the water. Over 400 years, successive Maharaja’s have created an architectural gem in the City Palace, with the original structure overlaid with countless courtyards, balconies and halls.
Udaipur’s tag of ‘the most romantic spot on the continent of India’ was first applied in 1829 by Colonel James Tod, the East India Company’s first political agent in the region. Today the romance is wearing slightly thin as ever-taller hotels compete for the best view and traffic clogs ancient thoroughfares.