I was delighted to see that the just-released 2009 annual list of the "World's Best Cities" (as chosen by worldwide readers of Travel + Leisure magazine) was topped by a city we visited last year.
Udaipur, in the heart of Rajasthan, was selected as the best city in the world by the magazine readers for its unspoiled beauty, luxury accommodations, art collections and shopping opportunities for fabrics, antiques and handmade clothing. I enjoyed those things and much more: warm, friendly people; exquisite hotel service experiences; and all the authentic, spiritual, amazing things that are the country of India.
Americans are sometimes of wary of visiting India. It is a land of contrasts and centuries of fascinating history. Yes, the poverty can be unsettling at times and the major cities are crowded, but the tremendous diversity and exotic culture make it feel less like a visit to another country than to another planet!
During your visit to Udaipur, stay at one or both of these top-rated hotels: The Taj Lake Palace, located in the middle of Lake Pichola or The Oberoi Udaivilas, conceived as a traditional Indian palace with lush gardens and luxurious accommodations.
The World's Best Cities, "World's Best Awards, 2009" by readers of Travel + Leisure magazine:
1. Udaipur, India
2. Capetown, South Africa
3. Bangkok, Thailand
4. Buenos Aires, Argentina
5. Chiang Mai, Thailand
6. Florence, Italy
7. Luang Prabang, Laos
8. New York
9. Rome, Italy
10. San Francisco