INDIA – Udaipur, Shiv Niwas Palace // Octopussy (1983)
The Shiv Niwas Palace is a home for kings – as it is part of the still running Maharaja palace in Udaipur. When the Bond crew stayed here, they made the best out of filming – even Roger Moore’s room had been used.
Why Bond was here
James Bond (Roger Moore) goes after a smuggling enterprise that is run by the wealthy Afghan prince Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan). He resides in a palace near the Rajasthani city Udaipur. When Bond arrives to town, he puts up in a home for royals – the Shiv Niwas Palace.
The Shiv Niwas Palace was once a residence to the Maharaja of Udaipur, located on the banks of Lake Pichola. The royal complex can be seen from afar and dominated the city. It is situated just south of the city center, rickshaws or cab drivers all know the way. One of the best views on the Maharaja palace complex is probably from the Taj Lake Palace – a luxury hotel that had been used as Octopussy’s island.
The inside and the park to the south is open for hotel guests only. But visitors of the Maharaja complex, that mainly hosts museums nowadays, can take a glimpse as well. The hotel itself occupies half of the southern tip of the palace complex. The other part is still used by the royal family and forbidden to enter.
Good to know
When we visited Udaipur, we stayed both at Taj Lake Palace and Shiv Niwas palace. The second one was the hotel, the Bond crew used for both accommodation and filming. The Shiv Niwas management told us, they stayed for one month. Four parts of the Shiv Niwas palace had been used for filming: a suite, the pool area, the forecourt and the nearby garden.
Roger Moore stayed in the royal suite no. 5 – a suite with direct entry to the pool area inside the hotel and with a balcony to the south. It seems, the film crew traveled on short budget. According to the management, the suite no. 5 was also the one, they used for filming. So Moore had to pack his belongings every morning to make room for the crew – then he was Bond till the end of the day.
Back in the 1970s the balcony was open. It is the one from which Khan’s henchwoman Magda (Kristina Wayborn) is abseiling herself after a night with Bond. Nowadays the hotel renovated the room and glazed the balcony. Depending on the season the suite costs between 28.000 and 33.000 Indian Rupees per night.
Impressions from the Shiv Niwas Palace and Roger Moores suite
Probably best to recognize is the pool area in front of the suites. In the movie the prepped the reception right in front of suite no. 5 – in reality there are just sun loungers and tables there. The tables had been used for a restaurant scene with Bond and Magda.
The hotels forecourt is the movies third location – best recognizable with the two huge marble elephants guarding the front gate. It doubles for some interior scenes at the Monsoon Palace, Kamal Khan’s hideout. The real Monsoon Palace is some kilometers west of the city though. Only exterior shots had been filmed there, the building itself is derelict.
Another part of the Monsoon Palace – the jungle hunt scene – had also been staged at the Shiv Niwas Palace. Filming took place in the huge garden south of the hotel. The balustrade can be briefly seen in one scene.
Unfortunately neither tourists nor hotel guests are allowed in nowadays. The garden is private property of the Maharajas brother. The best shot to get a glimpse is to walk along the huge wall surrounding the garden.
We stayed for a couple of days, to enjoy Udaipur and relax for a bit. There are rooms in a wide range of prices – from normal to royal. Roger Moore’s suite is not the top: The management showed us one of the three imperial suites. The once were home to the Maharajas closest friends. And they still look like one could drop by every minute.
© 2015 Huntingbond (1,3,4,gallery), © 1983 Danjaq, LLC and United Artists Corporation (2)