Udaipur, a lakeside paradise that will make your heart race
Situated in the southern part of Rajasthan, Udaipur rests in the shadows of the Aravalli Mountains. Famous for its more than 10 lakes in the city and four lakes in the vicinity, its absolutely stunning palaces, forts, gardens, marble temples, and ancient bazaars, Udaipur was the perfect setting of many movies. Known as the City of Lakes, it is home to some of the world's best luxury hotels and resorts and it is considered to be one of the most romantic cities in India and one of the best wedding destinations in the world.
Man-made Pichola Lake surrounded by grand palaces, marble temples, local houses and dark hills is definitively the centerpiece of the city. A palace complex located on its east bank was built over a period of nearly 400 years entirely in granite and marble and the entire complex is the property of the Mewar royal family, the world's oldest-serving dynasty. Amar Vilas, its highest point, has wonderful hanging gardens and fountains, pillared terraces and columns that line its courtyards.
Pichola Lake was made famous in the James Bond movie Octopussy. The Lake Palace (Octopussy's home), one of the most glamorous hotels in the world situated in the vicinity of the palace complex was featured in the movie, as is the crescent-shaped Shiv Niwas Palace (Bond's hotel), a former royal residence, now a luxurious hotel. Surprisingly or not but there is O’zen restaurant known for screening Octopussy movie every evening, a perfect visit for all you fans of Bond movies to take a sit and enjoy daily happenings in the streets of Udaipur.
Jag Mandir palace, recognized by the marble-made elephants positioned outside - four on each side of the entry steps - is built in the finest yellow sandstone with the interiors of inlaid designs in onyx, jasper and agate. Beautiful flower garden in the palace complex and the courtyard covered with black and white tiles, fountains and water pools, crisscrossed by walkways with low marble handrails, bedeck the garden surroundings. In this palace the present Maharana hosts lavish parties and also rents the place for private events.
Take a journey between mid-September to early April to get the best of Udaipur, to stroll its streets and get a glimpse into its daily life, catch the buzz of its vibrant markets and enjoy your candlelight lakeside dinner in one of the amazing rooftop restaurants. Yes, Udaipur is a paradise for food lovers. It adopted the life style of big cities but with no army of auto-rickshaw drivers, and its cuisine, customs and traditions make it so interesting. Take a true floating spa journey and spend a few hours on the Jiva Spa Boat where you can also have a dinner. Yes, this land is easy lovable.
Enjoy this truly amazing place to the fullest and take a camel safari through the city and to the desert, or a ride on the back of the elephant, just like Rajasthan royalties would do. Udaipur's seemingly endless fairy-tale royal palaces and lakes reflecting the grey-blue mountains, beautiful gardens adorned with roses, palm trees and imposing fountains, high profile restaurant and streets lined with tempting stores selling everything from miniature paintings to marble products, make this city adorable and staying in Udaipur a completely royal experience.
A do-not-miss experience is an hour long Mewar Sound and Light Show that introduces visitors to the history of the kingdom of Mewar held every evening at Manek Chowk, the largest courtyard of the City Palace complex. For all the vintage car enthusiasts, the Maharana’s car collection will make a fascinating stop. The former state garage has 22 splendid vehicles, which includes beautiful 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom used in Octopussy, the Cadillac convertible that Queen Elizabeth rode to the airport in 1961 and a seven seat 1938 Cadillac.
Before you go home visit the massive Kumbhalgarh fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site with a 38km continuous stretches of wall and over 360 temples situated 80km from the city, spectacularly lit for a few minutes each evening. This imposing construction is believed to be the second largest continuous wall on the planet. The fort has the impressive massive gate and the sand dunes of the Thar Desert can be seen from the fort walls. In the days of the Maharana, the walls held so many lamps it enabled the local farmers to work at night. If love is in the air, Udaipur is your destination of choice. ■
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