You can't leave Udaipur without seeing the stunningly romantic Lake Palace (Jag Niwas), which seems to float serenely on the waters of Lake Pichola. A vast, white-marble fantasy, the palace has been featured in many Indian and foreign films, including the James Bond film Octopussy. Unfortunately, the palace's apartments, courts, fountains, and gardens are off-limits unless you're a guest at the Taj Lake Palace Hotel. The equally isolated, three-story Jag Mandir Island Palace occupies Jag Mandir Island at the southern end of the lake, and is open to visitors from 10 to 6 (take a boat over). This palace has an elegant restaurant, the Darikhana (it serves Indian and continental cuisine, and is only open for dinner), as well as a more casual all-day café. Built and embellished over a 50-year period beginning in the 17th century, Jag Mandir is made of yellow sandstone, lined with marble, and crowned by a dome. The interior is decorated with arabesques of colored stones.
Shah Jahan, son of the Mughal emperor Jahangir, took refuge in Jag Mandir after leading an unsuccessful revolt against his father. Legend has it that Shah Jahan's inspiration for the Taj Mahal came from this marble masterpiece. One-hour motorboat cruises (Rs. 430 morning rides, or Rs. 680 for afternoon ride), start at the City Palace including a stop at Jag Mandir, leave from the jetty on the hour (daily 10–6) check for the exact spot at ticket counter; book a day ahead during the busy season.