The Indian city of Udaipur has beaten scores of other international tourist hotspots to be named in the world’s top 15 cities in a new poll of tourists.
The heritage-city built by the Maharanas of Mewar in the 16th century ranks higher than Barcelona and is the only city in India and South Asia to make the list, while no British city is featured in the top 15 at all.
As part of the 2017 World’s Best Awards survey, readers of Travel & Leisure magazine were asked to rank the ‘best cities in the world’ based on sights and landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping, and overall value.
Udaipur made the final cut in 14th place, ahead of other major Indian tourist destinations including Mumbai and Delhi. Its inclusion follows past success in 2009 when Udaipur topped the same poll and was voted as the ‘best city in the world to visit’.
Known as both the City of Lakes and the Venice of the East, Udaipur occupies a stunning location on the banks of Lake Pichola in south Rajasthan. Known for its breathtaking scenery, majestic palaces, world-class museums and luxury hotels, Udaipur is steeped in history, having been home to successive generations of Maharanas of Mewar. The city has many connections to Britain from the Raj to the James Bond movie Octopussy being filmed at the City Palace to its museum collections featuring British made silver, crystal and vintage cars.
Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur is the 76th Custodian of the House of Mewar and the Chairman and Managing Trustee of Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation (MMCF), which manages Udaipur’s leading visitor attraction, the City Palace Museum. More than one million people passed through the museum’s 450-year-old gates in 2016, setting a new record and highlighting the success MMCF has had in promoting the Museum with UK visitors making up the largest number of overseas tourists.
Shriji said: “We were delighted when Udaipur was voted the world’s best city for travellers in 2009 and are immensely proud that we are continuing to represent India on the international stage. Udaipur’s unchanging character, ethos and its spirit of hospitality adds a unique dimension to its intangible heritage. Udaipur is a jewel in India’s heritage crown, highlighted by the fact that so many visitors are coming to City Palace Museum every year now to enjoy a truly authentic heritage experience.
“Udaipur is rightly seen as one of the prime tourism cities in India and the magnet for visitors remains the City Palace Museum. We are custodians of this living heritage and are continually reinvesting resources in order to revitalise the Museum and attract domestic and international visitors to our city,” he said.
Shriji acknowledged the contribution of all stakeholders in the travel and tourism industry, and dedicated the Travel & Leisure listing to every citizen of Udaipur who remains a joint custodian of its living heritage.
The City Palace dates back to 1559 and has been home to 23 successive Maharanas of Mewar, the world’s oldest serving royal dynasty. The museum opened to the public for the first time in 1969 in a bid to further safeguard the area’s heritage and the time-honoured traditions of the people of Mewar, while also allowing travellers to gain a greater understanding of the region’s vast history and culture.
No stranger to glitz and glamour, Udaipur has played host to visits by the Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Jackie Kennedy (later Onassis). The city’s photogenic landscape and unique palaces and skylines led to the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy being extensively shot in Udaipur.
The 2017 Travel & Leisure magazine poll of The World’s Top 15 Cities was headed by San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
- San Miguel de Allende, Mexico | Score: 92.12
- Charleston, South Carolina | Score: 91.54
- Chiang Mai, Thailand | Score: 91.40
- Kyoto, Japan | Score: 91.13
- Florence, Italy | Score: 90.75
- Oaxaca, Mexico | Score: 90.41
- Hoi An, Vietnam | Score: 90.31
- Cape Town, South Africa | Score: 90.24
- Ubud, Indonesia | Score: 90.13
- Luang Prabang, Laos | Score: 90.10
- Santa Fe, New Mexico | Score: 89.94
- Rome, Italy | Score: 89.73
- Siem Reap, Cambodia | Score: 89.57
- Udaipur, India | Score: 89.54
- Barcelona, Spain | Score: 89.52