Udaipur, India

In Udaipur, locals proudly tell you you’re in the Venice of the East. You might feel incredulous to such claims at first but its peaceful character grows on you. Honeymooners flock for the romance and it’s no small achievement that a city of half a million people feels positively tranquil.

Since the city featured in the 1983 Bond film “Octopussy”, all the guest houses in Udaipur screen it every night. Every night, it seems, except for the night I actually wanted to watch it. On that night, of course, it was nowhere to be found. A small matter when the evening spectacle from the waterfront is so dazzling. Gazing out upon its expansive surface, it’s hard to imagine the lake dries up entirely during the summer months.

Inside the wonderfully antiquated Lal Ghat guest house I met Rosie, a British expat and antiques dealer running her own guest house in town. She tells me over chai that tourist numbers are down this season. A confusing trend indeed when the setting is so sublime.

City Palace lights up at dusk. Built slowly over a 400 year period, the palace complex is still owned by the Mewar royal family
An inner courtyard of the City Palace View from the rooftop of the Lal Ghat guest house: Lake Pichola at dawn
Elephant sculptures welcome visitors to the Jag Mandir, a palace built on an island in Lake Pichola
Anything from doorways to mudguards can and will be decorative in India, this charming gate to a small, residential hindu temple is no exception Waterfront of the Lal Ghat guest house. Lal Ghat is one of the oldest guest houses still operating in Udaipur