Yep, that’s right. A good chunk of the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy was filmed right here in Udaipur. Despite the obvious affects of tourism the town still retains its character and appeal. The centerpiece of the town is Pichola Lake, the north and east sides of the lake feature numerous hotels and rooftop restaurants, many of which play Octopussy nightly. All the major sights can be done in a day but it’d be a shame to not stay here and relax for a few days. The lake helps keep the climate here more moderate than it is in the rest of the state so nights are usually pleasantly cool despite it being the middle of the summer.
My first day it was raining so I stuck to indoor activities like going to the Bagore-Ki-Haveli Museum and then catching a dance show there later in the evening. The museum is a restored haveli displaying what life was like back in the day. The museum also has an extremely eclectic art collection. You don’t need to be an art nerd to realize there’s no common theme to the works being displayed. I highly recommend attending the dance show in the evenings at the haveli. The traditional dances are really impressive and well worth it. The show is usually held outdoors in a courtyard but it was done indoors for us since it was raining.
From land, the views of the lake palaces and the Monsoon Palace on a western hill are stunning. It’s easy to see why they chose this location for filming. Remote, picturesque, and classy (lunch at the Lake Palace Hotel will run you over 2000 rupees!)…it’s all very Bond-esqe.
From a boat, the imposing City Palace dominates the skyline. Again, picture perfect. The museum inside is well worth it too, but watch for hordes of foreign and Indian tour groups who either linger too long in good spots to take photos and/or rudely ask you to move out of the way so that they can take a photo. Although I was tempted to retort with “wait your fucking turn” after it happened several times I just ignored the requests to move. Refreshingly, the touting here is nowhere near as aggressive as the other places I’ve been in India and shopkeepers aren’t constantly calling out to you to buy something. All in all, I highly recommend going to Udaipur for the relaxing atmosphere and the beautiful lake setting.