Aren’t places always called things like “the Paris of…” or “the Venice of…” or “the Pearl of…”? It’s almost always nonsense: Bucharest is no Paris, Suzhou is no Venice and Shanghai is hardly a pearl. Honestly, I’m not even sure why I got onto this tangent because Udaipur isn’t called any of these things by the guidebooks, only by us. Udaipur is, simply, the most pleasant city in Rajasthan. (There’s no point in comparing it to Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.)
In Udaipur, you can leisurely sip a pot of coffee or tea, on an atmospheric rooftop overlooking a glorious lake and distant little mountains and piles of crisp white mansions and palaces. This isn’t even a form of elitist escapism from the nasty streets below, because the streets below aren’t all that nasty. There are plenty of excellent little jewelry shops and miniature painting stalls fronted by pleasant smiling non-desperate-looking shopkeepers. The lack of obvious begging and poverty makes us think that our tourist dollars are hitting their mark in this prosperous city.
Udaipur is the one place I can recommend to a person reluctant to deal with the insanity of India. Here, amid 5 star hotels and thriving internet cafes, you can experience all the beauty and regalness of India, without all the harsh realities of other, less fortunate, cities.