The Mewars play host in Udaipur, home of a 500-year-old dynasty, a grand palace in the middle of a lake and James Bond’s Octopussy.
Although it’s possible to catch a daily screening of the womanising thrill-seeker in action, the palace was more appealing. After ceding official royal power in the 1980s, their mission to create a city inside a city means their grand ways have not been forgotten, with surprisingly progressive rulers.
They have adopted sons down the family line and nowadays they insist upon renewable energy initiatives.
That said, one middle-age Maharana had in the region of 1250 so-called “girlfriends”, which sounds like a logistical nightmare. The amount of phones he’d have needed to make sure none of them found out about the others boggles the mind. Very Bond. He would approve.
A boat tour out to the islands shows their extravagant ways, and although drought drains the lake from time to time, these oasises/oasi/oasians (plural of oasis) are sublime. Gold and marble elephants, symbolising luck and prosperity are everywhere.