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  A Royal Honeymoon in Rajasthan Part 2

Contributed by Anil Mulchandani
Email : ssibal@ad1.vsnl.net.in
Photographs by Dinesh Shukla
Website: www.ahmedabadcity.com/html/dinesh.html

The first part of this article was featured last month.
Click here to read.


After a refreshing glass of juice on the poolside deck of Shiv Niwas, we visited the Fatehprakash Palace, another wing of the City palace opened as a hotel. The piece de resistance of Fatehprakash is the Darbarhall, which has huge chandeliers, walls spanned by royal portraits, swords which are still oiled and sharp and antique furniture. The galleries upstairs from where women watched proceedings in the Darbar have now been turned into a museum of crystal--you can see rare crystal furniture, lalique figurines, crystal utensils, crystal crockery etc., supplemented by some objects in gold, silver, velvet and brocade--called the Crystal Gallery.The corridor next to the Darbarhall is now the GALLERY RESTAURANT with a row of chairs surrounding little dining tables, such that all diners have a view of the lake Pichola and the 2 island palaces--the Jag Niwas, which is now the Lake Palace hotel, and the older Jag Mandir Palace.Here we had a typical continental meal of muligatany soup, batter fried fish, herb ommelette, baked spaghetti and apple tart pudding, and enjoyed views of the Lake Palace with boats ferrying to and fro. In the afternoon, we had high tea here of English tea, scones, sandwiches and cream cakes, before setting out for a sunset boat ride on lake Pichola during which we saw the Lake palace, close up, and spent half an hour on Jag Mandir palace, whose domes and inlays are said to have inspired the Taj Mahal. The Lake Palace is of course India's quintessential palace hotel, and one of the most unique hotels of the world--after all where else, can you stay in an 18th century island palace? Inside it is equally glamorous with courtyards, marble floors, granite pillars, lily ponds, antiques and curios. The suites are positively splendid--there are suites with ample terraces, suites with sunlight streaming in through colourful windows, suites with Rajasthani paintings, suites facing the pool, suites with mosaics and mirrors, and suites with magnificent lake views. You can enjoy cocktails on the barge by the lake, fresh fruit juice beside the lily pool, tea on the poolside decks, lake views from the terrace, boat rides, concerts, puppet shows and sit-outs in the courtyards.

Udaipur has cheaper options too for the heritage hotel experience. The Rang Mahal Palaces built In the 19th century as a pavilion for the Maharana's family to watch events like the Sitla mata procession but later extended into a guest house for guests from nearby princely state, is now a family run heritage hotel with modern facilities, pleasant gardens, restaurants, sports facilities and comfortable rooms. The Jagat Niwas Palace, a 19th century haveli overlooking the picturesque bathing ghats on lake Pichola, has good rooms, terrace restaurant facing the lake and jarokha balconies. The Pratap country inn, a couple of kms outside the city, offers comfortable rooms in an old country mansion of the Maharanas of Udaipur, riding lessons, horse back excursions, restaurants, pool, and a lawn in the courtyard.
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