Udaipur retains the charm of colonial times in India. Although its main palace is ocher—almost red– it is called the white city of Rajasthan, a state in northwest India on the border with Pakistan. The blue waters of its four lakes— Pichola, Fateh Sagar, Rang Sagar and Swaroop Sagar – reflect the green of the surrounding hills and the white color of its temples. Saris
A possible scenario of the Arabian Nights, Udaipur lies hidden within the Aravalli Mountains that cross the center of Rajasthan, forming a 434-mile diagonal mountain range. But its charm lies at ground level. Lake Pichola hosts two islands —each with a palace: Jag Mandir dating from 1620, and Jag Niwas (or Palace Lake), built in 1746 as a residence for the Maharaja´s guests.
This is also the location of the Taj Lake Palace hotel, made of white marble and mosaic, and the scene of the James Bond adventures in the 1983 film Octopussy. At a price between 600 and 3,000 dollars for a double room in low season, it is one of those pleasures to be enjoyed at least once in a lifetime.
The main palace of Udaipur is the City Palace, built between the 16th and 19th centuries and commissioned by various rulers. Overwhelmingly large, ocher and majestic, it was the Maharajah´s favorite palace. Today, City Palace refers to a complex of separate but related buildings. Fortunately, the additions have taken into account the earlier versions. The same has happened with the palaces of Shiv Niwas and Fateh Prakash, which later joined the main block becoming luxury hotels like the Leela Palace, where every room has its butler.
Nearby is the elegant five-star Oberoi Udaivilas, which is part of the Indian Oberoi hotel company. Surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens, the entrance welcomes you with rose petals and an umbrella to protect you from the sun. Another luxury hotel we recommend is the one from the Trident chain, which is present throughout the state and in all major cities. Its international restaurant offers a break from the rich Indian spices, and its swimming pools are especially appreciated after a long journey through Rajasthan. ■