Udaipur is enchanting. Built in the mountains around a cascade of lakes, it's no surprise that this white marble wedding cake of a city, carved like lace, should be immensely popular amongst tourists, wedding parties and film location scouts alike.
It all adds to the fun when you turn the corner to find a bride being photographed or a Bollywood shoot in full flow. The highlight for most is the delicately beautiful Lake Palace, on an island in the centre of Lake Pichola, famously used as a location in James Bond's Octopussy, but this is only one of many fabulous treasures here.
On the shore, directly opposite the Jag Niwas (Lake Palace) is the huge City Palace, still home to the Maharajah's family but also containing a lavish museum. There are several other wonderful museums, including the merchant's house, the Bagore-Ki Haveli, the Shilpgram Craft Village and the Ahar Museum, with the cenotaphs of nineteen maharanas.
With a setting as romantic as this, however, you need to take time just to wander the streets and lake shores, take a boat ride and enjoy the gardens, the atmosphere, the markets and the views, and, perhaps, to explore some of the sites nearby.
Astonishingly, nothing in this magnificent city is yet on the UNESCO World Heritage list - surely an oversight?
Where is it?
Udaipur is in the centre of the huge state of Rajasthan in north-west India, 679 km (422 miles) from New Delhi and 94 km (59 miles) from the state capital, Jaipur.
What is it?
A city, formerly the capital of the Rajput kingdom of Mewar, which became part of Rajasthan after Indian independence in 1948. The Lake Palace (Jag Niwas), on an island in the middle of Lake Pichola, was the summer palace of the Maharajas (built 1743-6). It is now a luxury hotel, run by the Taj group.
Best time to visit?
The best time to visit is in winter (mid-October to mid-March) when it is cooler and dry.
If you can afford it, stay at the Lake Palace, if not, at least have a drink and explore. At the very least, allow plenty of time for the City Palace and Museum, a boat trip on Lake Pichola, a tour of the upper lakes, and a trip to the Shilpgram Craft Village. If possible, build in at least 3 days here. It is also a good place from which to do side trips to Ranakpur, Chittorgarh and Kumbhalgarh.