Udaipur is a great place to go if your extremely rich, or a fan of James Bond films. Actually, if your a fan of one James Bond film in particular: Octopussy. A large part of the film was shot here and even though it was released some 25 years ago, every restaurant in town still shows Octopussy every night at 7PM sharp. Before you are allowed to leave town, tourists have to show proof they have seen the movie. Workers in these restaurants can quote the film at the drop of the hat, and every rickshaw driver in town claims to have been in the movie: “You see? I am in movie! Come I take you to Monsoon Palace at 5PM, yesh?”
I may exaggerate, you don’t have to be super rich to visit, but it helps. Udaipur is called the “Venice of The East”. It’s easy to understand why. The city is centered around a wide lake and many buildings are built right up to the waterline. The lake is home to the Lake Palace Hotel, once the home of the local Maharajah, it’s now a 5 star hotel that hosts the likes of Madonna, Liz Hurley and other people with way too much money to spend on a hotel room in India. LeeAnne and I rode a paddle boat around it.
In addition to Octopussy and a 5 star hotel the city has several other draws: The City Palace is remarkable for it’s ornate architecture and the fact it’s a Palace in India and it’s in really good shape. There are tons of art schools in town, so it’s a great place to experience Rajasthani art. The Monsoon Palace has a terrific view of the lake, the valley and the city. And the Bagore-ki-Haveli is a great museum dedicated to the life’s of the other half of the city – normal Rajasthani’s.
And if you run out of things to do you can always sit on the rooftop cafe of your hotel (they all have one) and watch the locals have kite fights at dusk. It’s a blast.