Few people forget their first sight of UDAIPUR. Spreading around the shores of the idyllic Lake Pichola and backdropped by a majestic ring of craggy green hills, the city seems to encapsulate India at its most quintessentially romantic, with its intricate sequence of ornately turreted and balconied palaces, whitewashed havelis and bathing ghats clustered around the waters of the lake – or, in the case of the Lake Palace hotel and Jag Mandir, floating magically upon them.
Not that the city is quite as perfect as the publicity would have you believe. The drought which recently emptied Lake Pichola for several years has mercifully ended, and water levels have now been restored to their original levels, but insensitive modern lakeside development, appalling traffic and vast hordes of tourists mean that the city is far from unspoilt or undiscovered. Even so, Udaipur remains a richly rewarding place to visit, and although it's possible to take in most of the sights in a few days, many people spend at least a week exploring the city and the various attractions scattered about the surrounding countryside.