Friday, 19 October 2012

An Octopussy Odyssey

Octopussy's gaff innit

When planning my travels around India in 2009, there were a few sights I could not miss off my itinerary.

The Taj Mahal, Mumbai and, of course, Udaipur - aka the place where they filmed Octopussy.

For a Bond fan it is a pretty remarkable place. The guide books are true: they really do play the film in restaurants every single night. The waiters must be furious with the flawed script and plot defects.

Of course, as soon as I arrived in Udaipur (via a sweaty and snory overnight train from Ahmedabad) I just wanted to see with my own eyes Octopussy's palace, the 'floating palace' in the middle of Lake Pichola.

But first I had to check in to my hotel. About two months earlier in a train station waiting room in Varanasi, I had read about a small hotel in Udaipur that had a special "007-themed" room. I had to book it.

The room was adequate but, to be honest, the only 007 thing about it was the shonky painted room number...

Never mind, I thought, and hotfooted it to the rooftop terrace for the view of the Lake Palace.

The lake was half-dry but I got the general gist: it was effin' awesome.

That night, watching Octopussy in an adjoining rooftop restaurant, was very special. During the scenes featuring Octopussy's palace, it give me a little tingle when I glanced to the left of the knackered TV screen and there it was for real.

Over the next few days, I saw as many Bond sights as I could.

The trip to Kamal Khan's house - the Monsoon Palace - was a highlight. Some way out of town, the house itself was in the middle of being refurbished and there wasn't much to look at, and certainly no Bond-related ephemera.

The main pull was actually the views of Udaipur and surrounding area. Of course, looking up at the Monsoon Palace from the town isn't bad either - especially at sunset.

That's the Monsoon Palace on the hill
Then of course, you have the hotel Bond stayed in, the Shiv Nawas Palace. It's also where Roger Moore and the crew stayed. For about a tenner, paupers staying in less glamourous hotels - such as myself - can come in and use the pool.

So to be swimming in the same pool as Sir Rog was one thing and then I realised... this pool area was where they'd filmed the Bond-Magda dinner scene.

"He suggests a trade. The Egg... for your life"
And walking around Udaipur is full of little moments when you catch yourself going "Holy shit, THIS was in the film as well!".

I captured one of these moments on film below, although it doesn't look quite the same without an auto rickshaw flying over some camels.


So that's Udaipur, an exotic must for any Bond fans even vaguely passing through the area. It's cheesy and any tourist with a conscience will be a bit embarrassed how much the locals play up to being a film location 29 years ago.

But in Udaipur, just like when you're watching Octopussy, you've just got to forget logic and go with it.

2 comments:

  1. Recently traveled to Udaipur. Loved the place to the core. Lake Palace view is amazing. Stayed at a resort and accommodation was wonderful. The resort has the best restaurants in Udaipur too.

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  2. Udaipur, the city of Lakes is a marvelous place every one should visit and enjoy. There are many resorts in Udaipur which were converted from huge palaces.

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