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There’s something intrinsically magical about the appearance of water in the midst of a desert region. But at Udapiur, the phenomenon attains a new level of wonder, thanks to the addition of some of the world’s most spellbinding palaces. Wrapped around the southern shores of luminous Lake Pichola, the grandest of them all is the Maharana of Mewar’s City Palace, now a luxurious heritage hotel whose gracefully arched windows and domed pavilions gaze across the waterfront to two whitewashed, Rajput-style island hideaways, seemingly afloat on the lake like a pair of snowflakes. As a counterpoint to this serene vision, the bazaars, temples and crowded backstreets of Udaipur’s old city, only a short stroll over the hill, are as lively and atmospheric as any in India.