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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Heritage Hotels in Rajasthan

Heritage Hotels in Rajasthan

Rajasthan has been the land of the maharajas and their nobles. The legends that surround these dashing inhabitants have now passed into history-the mythical world of blood and blade,of battles won and of their undaunted spirit. But it was not just the battlefield that brought out the best in these brave warriors they gave equal attention to their residence. hert1.jpg (17932 bytes) While the princes built the stately palaces and forts in their states-their nobles were not far behind in building suitably impressive havelies which were in keeping with their status. All of Rajasthan is dotted with these marvellous monuments, each one an outstanding example of our rich architectural heritage. Most of the palaces here are still being used by the erstwhile royal families;a few have sections converted into museums and hotels thus allowing the tourist a glimpse into the lavish opulence which was part of the regal lifestyle.

The havelies not big enough to be rated as palaces,and too elaborate to be called ordinary places of residence,outnumbered the palaces and forts, and there have remained with the nobles as their family homes. Almost every little village has a haveli, the size and workmanship varying according to the status of the owner. With the movement of the owners to bigger cities,quite a few of these havelies started withering with age-the massive courtyards,the zenana mahals with murals,the carved balconies, the mardana baithak where the nobles sat with visitors, period furniture and traditional decor-it was a world with its own charm and magic. With the growing tourism industry and the constant demand for something different and new for the tourist,the Heritage Hotel concept came on the scene. The tourist who looked for something other than the usual star category hotel,was delighted with the haveli. Within a couple of years, not only the number of Heritage Hotels has risen substantially but also these are booked well in advance invariably.

hert2.jpg (22970 bytes) In a class by themselves, these heritage hotels extend their own unique services to the tourist. Dressed almost always in traditional turbans and dhotis,the old family retainers cater to the same kind of care and hospitality to the tourists as they do to their personal guests.In most of these havelies,the host himself is always around to ensure that the guest is comfortable and well looked after. What these palaces lack by way of five-star facilities they more than make up by the personalized service that they extend. The Department of Tourism takes active interest in promoting these heritage hotels. Some are listed below. A more detailed list is available with the Department of Tourism,Government of Rajasthan.

JAIPUR REGION

Narayan Niwas Palace: A palatial residence built in the 19 th century. Large rooms with furniture dating back to he east India company days it is very popular with tourists and has been a hotel for several years.

Samod Haveli: A huge haveli with some exotic murals and period furniture. It is located in the city.

Mandawa House: Converted into a hotel recently, this is a fairly new haveli located just outside the walled city.

Ramgarh Lodge: Managed by one of the leading hoteliers of India,the lodge is located 30 km from Jaipur and overlooks the Ramgarh lake. An interesting place for a quiet weekend.hert3.jpg (19683 bytes)

Rajmahal Palace Hotel: A grand palace built in 1729,it has sprawling lawns,a swimming pool and a peaceful air about it. Ideal for relaxing on the lawns and watching peacocks.

Hotel Sariska Palace: Built originally as a hunting lodge by the Maharaja of Alwar in the late 19 th century,this is a majestic palace located just outside the Sariska National Park.

hert4.jpg (10393 bytes)Siliserh Palace: Run by the RTDC,there are very few palaces in Rajasthan which can match the charm of this tiny palace. Nestling in a lush green valley overlooking a serene lake,Siliserh is an unbelievable little resort.

Fort Neemrana: Close to Delhi,this 17th century for has been recently resorted and offers the tourist a delightful glimpse into history.

SHEKHAWATI REGION

Almost every little village in Shekhwati is rich in painted havelis. The ones that are taking in tourists include SAMOD PALACE,CASTLE MANDAWA,NAWALGARH, DERA DUNDLOD. These are all located in villages and provide an insight into the rustic way of life.

MARWAR REGION

Royal Castle Khimsar: Built by the founder of Jodhpur, Rao Jodha, in the 15th century,this is now run by a professional hotel group. Special tours are arranged to familiarise the guests with the village.

Rohet Garh: Well maintained and located in arid surroundings, Rohet Garh still contains some old Persian carpets and chandeliers in good condition.

Ajit Bhawan: A palatial mansion and a very interesting village complex, in Jodhpur. This has been extremely popular with the tourists for several years now.

MEWAR REGION

Shiv Niwas Palace: Run by the erstwhile ruler of Udaipur and providing all the five-star facilities,this is one of the grandest and most exotic palaces in Udaipur.

Udaivilas Palace,Dungarpur: A fairly recent entrant to the heritage hotel chain ,this is an impressive palace overlooking a lake.

Some other interesting hotels in this chain are Swai Madhopur Lodge and Jhoomar Baodi in Sawai Madhopur,Bhanwar Vilas in Karauli,Golbagh Palace in Bharatpur,Lalgarh Palace in Bikaner,Brijraj Bhawan and Umaid Bhawan Palace in Kota and Govindgarh for near Pushkar.



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