With the nickname City of Lakes, the city of Udaipur in the Indian state of Rajasthan is considered one of the most seductive, beautiful cities on the subcontinent. Ornate temples and white marble palaces abound, all reflected on the glassy waters of Lake Pichola.
Day 1: In and Around Udaipur
The Udaipur City Palace is unquestionably one of the most stunning structures in the city and makes the perfect jumping off point for an Udaipur itinerary. Much of the palace complex is dominated by the City Palace Museum and its collection of art and artifacts, but the halls, smaller palaces and gardens are also well worth exploring, particularly for the intricate murals, glass inlays, silver-work and mirror-work. Make sure to stop by the Fateh Prakash Palace Hotel, one of two hotels housed within the City Palace Complex, to see the crystal gallery. The unused collection of crystal furniture, including sofas, beds, tables and chairs, best characterizes the opulence of the city and its rulers.
After touring the palace, head north from the entrance to visit the Jagdish Temple, dedicated to the god Vishnu. If you still have time, take the short drive out of Udaipur to Eklingji Temple, a complex of 108 smaller temples dating back to the eighth century. The fully functioning temple remains a popular place for Hindu pilgrims to come worship, and coming during a prayer service offers an authentic cultural experience.
Day 2: Lake Pichola
The placid waters of Lake Pichola reflect the Udaipur skyline beautifully, particularly after a season of heavy rain. Start the day with a boat tour of the lake, including a stop to explore the palace on Jag Mandir Island. According to legend, the yellow sandstone and marble palace was the inspiration behind the Taj Mahal, built by Shah Jahan after he stayed in Jag Mandir Palace after a revolt attempt against his father. Perched in the middle of the lake sits the Lake Palace, a white marble structure that appears to float on the surface of the lake. Reserve a table for dinner at one of the palace's two restaurants so you'll have the chance to explore the grounds and enjoy a meal overlooking the lake.
Day 3: Day trip to Ranakpur
Now that you've experienced the sights and sounds of Udaipur, it's time to get out into the Rajasthani countryside. The 56-mile (90-kilometer) drive from Udaipur to Ranakpur is one of the most picturesque in the country, and the Jain temple complex at Ranakpur is equally impressive. The white marble temple is supported by more than 1,400 marble columns, each carved differently from the rest.