India

The Taj Mahal, India's most famous landmark

Udaipur

India is a fantastic country to visit, full of unique colour, smells and flavours. Its rich history and interesting culture instantly gives you the feeling of being in a different world. And you are. James Bond visited India once, back in 1983. Tracing the buyer of a Fabergé egg, 007 ended up in the city of Udaipur where he found more than just his nemesis Kamal Khan. He also found the stunning Octopussy, living in a lake palace, guarded and surrounded by an army of beautiful women. This sounds like the kind of location we are dying for to explore. So off we went to India.

Below you can read part of our story The Jewel and the Clown, as featured in full in the travel guide.
After several Islamic invasions, the stability in the country disappeared and Portuguese, French and English traders took advantage of the fractured kingdoms to colonise India around the year 1600. The British East India Company became very powerful, but their policies caused widespread resentment resulting in 1857 in an insurrection popularly known as the First War of Indian Independence. After the revolt India came under the crown of the British Empire. Subsequently, the Indian independence movement began its struggle for independence. On August 15, 1947 India was granted independence from British rule, becoming a secular republic in 1950. The Republic of India now has a population of over one billion, the Indian economy being the fourth largest in the world in terms of purchasing power parity and is the world's second fastest growing economy. India also has a huge film industry, often referred to as "Bollywood", producing thousands of films each year, grossing much, much more than the average Hollywood film..
Visitors generally enter the country either by Mumbai or New Delhi. We decided to start our tour in Delhi and work our way through the state of Rajasthan, finishing in Mumbai. We stayed for two weeks in total which was sufficient time to cover the main attractions of Rajasthan but did not leave much scope for unscheduled stops.

We took a train from Delhi to our first major port of call at Agra where we stayed in the sumptuous Oberoi Amarvillas Hotel, a truly wonderful hotel. After visiting the magnificent Taj Mahal we visited the Red Fort of Agra where we found our first Octopussy location. At the highest point of the fort there is a terrace that offers a sweeping view across the river to the Taj Mahal beyond. It was from this point that the shots of the Taj Mahal were taken when Bond initially arrives in India. From Agra we had a drove to Jaipur, the largest town in Rajasthan, for a couple of days before moving on to Johdpur and finally Udaipur, which is 300 miles further away from the Taj Mahal than the film makers want us to believe.
The tuc-tuc chase was filmed in the busy streets of Udaipur
Octopussy's floating barge is still floating in the lake
We stayed at the wonderful Lake Palace Hotel, a familiar sight to Bond fans. For visiting Lake Palace locations from Octopussy it is easiest to stay at the hotel itself, which is reasonably priced by Western standards. For those on a tighter budget it is possible to visit the hotel for dinner if you have a reservation. If you are staying at the hotel, the romantically inclined can have dinner on a pontoon on the lake. It was a great experience.

After settling into our room a stroll around the hotel brings back immediate images for fans of Bond. The swimming pool area has superb views of the City Palace, and an angle that is featured in the film. On the upper level is a terrace that the hotel uses as a dining area. This is where Octopussy and Bond share a romantic drink. From here you can also see the Monsoon Palace in the hills beyond the new Oberoi hotel on the opposite side of the lake to the town. In the centre of the complex is the beautiful lily pond that Octopussy emerges from after Bond infiltrates the island.

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This and much more can be found in the chapter 'The Jewel and the Clown' in ON THE TRACKS OF 007

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