If India is a country marked in large part by the triad of poverty, democracy and extraordinary stratification, Udaipur represents the rarefied splendors enjoyed by the beneficiaries of the latter. Known as the “Venice of the East” and the “Kashmir of Rajasthan,” Udaipur beats all when it comes to fairytale palaces and opportunities for lakeside repose. Not for the lean of means, this city is deservedly considered one of the most beautiful and easily the most romantic cities in the subcontinent. That said, if you’re after budget travel and cheap accommodations, you may want to consider looking elsewhere.
With a history that dates back to the 16th century, the city as we know it today was established in 1568 when the Mughal emperor Akbar the Great captured the area and established it as his capital. After the demise of the Mughals, the city passed through a number of hands before coming under British colonial rule in 1818. Politics and tourism notwithstanding, much remains unchanged today, with its glorious interlocking lakes, pavilions and palaces largely intact and elaborately well-appointed.
There are far too many lavish points of interest in Udaipur to list here, but any description of the city would be incomplete without some mention of the splendid granite and marble facade of the City Palace complex in the center of Lake Pichola. Contained within its walls is a jaw-dropping array of fine stonework, silver, colored glass, tapestry, painting and other palatial accoutrement.
As with virtually any place in India, traveling to and from Udaipur involves covering a whole lot of ground, but the city is easily accessible from virtually all points of significance by plane, train and bus service.