Udaipur is often referred to as the most romantic city in Rajasthan, and sitting on one of the many terraces looking over the rooftops, Lake Pichola and the infamous Floating Palace, it's easy to see why. As the sun sets, animal lovers can also watch (sometimes at very close quarters!) playful troops of monkies that chase the last rays of sun along the skyline.
Yet another royal city, Udaipur boasts a number of palaces and forts, including the City Palace (still the home of the Maharana of Udaipur, as well as a heritage hotel), the Jag Mandir Palace (on the lake) and just outside the city, high on a hillside the Monsoon Palace, a favourite royal retreat for hunting in days gone by.
A monument to craftsmanship and patience, a visit to the Jagdish Temple (near the City Palace) is an absolute must. The thousands of hand-carved sculptures of elephants and religious effigies is among some of the most intricate and awe-inspiring that you will see on your trip. The city is surrounded by the lush green of the Aravali Hills which make a stunning backdrop for the car journey to or from Jodhpur.
For James Bond aficionados, many of the sights in and around Udaipur will be familiar as much of the 1982 film Octpussy was set here.
More from Udaipur
Udaipur - Jagdish TempleThe Jagdish Temple, a Jain temple about 150m from the entrance to City Palace is also worth visiting for their carvings, the exterior decoration includes elephants, musicians and alligators. It is one of the largest Jain temples in North India. There is also a bronze statue of Garuda, the bird carrier, in veneration to Lord Vishnu that looks somewhat startled and a black stone Lord Vishnu that is frequently highly decorated with flower garlands and bright fabrics. Bear in mind that the temple is still working and whilst visitors are welcome, it is essential to dress conservatively so as not to cause offense, no mini skirts or hot pants ladies!
Udaipur - Lake PicholaIf you visit during the winter months its worth taking a boat ride on Lake Pichola to the Jag Mandir, the palace has some beautiful carvings and was said to have given Shah Jahan an idea or two for the Taj Mahal when he stayed there in 1623. You also get a great view of the Lake Palace from the back.
Udaipur and the James Bond connectionMost famous in many people's minds as the backdrop of the Bond film or as the 'Venice of the East' Udaipur is famous for two things; palaces and lakes. The most familiar palaces featured in Octopussy are the Shiv Niwas Palace (Bond's hotel), the Lake Palace (Octopussy HQ) and the Monsoon palace ( the exterior of Kamal Khan's hideaway) although you will only be able to see the former two if you are a guest as they are now both hotels. However, the Shiv Niwas is part of the City Palace, which is now partly a museum and has some ornate interiors and great views of the Lake Palace and lake. The Moti Mahal (Pearl palace), Mor Chowk (Peacock square) and Zenana Mahal (ladies quarters) are all stunning. Its worth noting that due to bad monsoons in recent years, the water levels in Udaipur have dropped and during summer theres very little water in the lakes though in winter the lakes have been about half full in the past couple of years.