LIKE A MOONLIT MIRAGE
THE TAJ LAKE PALACE HOTEL IN UDAIPUR, RAJASTHAN, OR JAG NIWAS PALACE, IS ONE OF THE MOST ENCHANTING HOTELS ON EARTH. GLISTENING LIKE A MOONLIT MIRAGE ON THE SURFACE OF LAKE PICHOLA IN UDAIPUR, YOU’LL FIND THE UNFORGETTABLE FANTASY PLAYGROUND OF MAHARAJAS THAT ALSO SERVED AS THE MOVIE SET FOR JAMES BOND’S OCTOPUSSY.
From ancient royalty to Hollywood, The Taj Lake Palace Hotel certainly deserves its reputation as the most romantic hotel of the incomparable Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces Group, a premier brand in Asia and Africa. There are very few hotels in the world that are housed in such a rich and ornate palace, where every intricacy and detail can cause a gasp of pleasure. An amazing remnant of India’s rich and fascinating history, the hotel is a living relic. This Lady of the Lake is built on four acres of naturally underlying rock, resplendent in her glory of white-marbled walls that encase a myriad of stories. Voted the most romantic hotel in India of all time, The Taj has enraptured eminent notable guests such as Queen Elizabeth II, Jackie Kennedy and The Shah of Iran.
The Maharana Jagat Singh II built the property as a pleasure palace between 1743-1746 when he was the direct successor to the Indian Mewar Dynasty. It was originally designed to house his personal harem as his father was displeased with his son’s hedonistic antics onshore. A perfect specimen of architecture, it is now the testament of a slightly wayward and wild son. Successive rulers went on to use the property as their summer palace, enjoying the cool winds blowing in over the water and the airy central courtyards and terraces within. The famous Lily Pond is a shimmering emerald body of water amidst the pure white edifice.
Sadly by the 1950’s the palace was deserted and decaying as the heyday of the Maharajas and The British Raj were all but over. However, the ruling Maharana of the time, Bhagwat Singh, decided to restore it to its former glory and turned it into Udaipur’s first luxury hotel. Completed in 1969 after 300 dancing girls (by now older women) in residence were relocated, the iconic Taj Group acquired it in 1971 and completed extensive restorations, expanding it into the majestic crown jewel of the international resort brand.
Arriving to The Taj – especially by luxurious sailing vessel – is like being transported to a different time and dimension of opulent extravagance and fairy-tale fantasy. Five different types of accommodation are all beyond the standard category of five-star, each one individually decorated to retain the charm and tradition of the property’s illustrious history, including original hand-painted walls and antiques.
The Grand Royal Suites are legendary and retain the royal stamp of the original palatial décor. This is the epitome of grandeur, available in nine sprawling suites within the hotel. The Khush Mahal was the queens’ chamber for centuries and it possesses the lavishness you would expect. The rich baroque interior is full of indulgences such as a swing at the foot of the bed and a vast marble bathroom. The intricately carved windows pay homage to a culture of craftsmanship long gone, glittering with semi-precious stones reflecting luminescence throughout the day on the pearly polished marble. One can only think of the original Taj Mahal, another great romantic monument of India created by yet another famous prince. Full of historical significance, the resort version is furbished with every modern convenience with suites that are some of the most unique and luxurious in the world.
The communal areas are a labyrinth of beauty, leading to breath-taking gardens and terraces through to dining areas filled with wonder. Hidden corners are full of intrigue and intermingling myths of times far away. Latticed white arches and curving domes define the sensual lines of the building. Surrounding the pool is a perfect courtyard, and the scalloped arches continue into the Jharoka dining room, serenely placed with views over the calm waters. Delectable meals based around Indian and Pan-Asian cuisines are served from the kitchens of Chef Manish, complemented by one of the most comprehensive wine lists in India.
If you need to relax even more, then it is time to sample the hotel’s totally unique spa experience available on-board the vintage Jiva Spa Boat, literally floating upon the wave of relaxation. The three-hour Royal Spa Sojourn is a traditional treatment form Mewar that was originally undertaken before a wedding. It is a combination of scrub, massage and cleansing in the bath on the deck where you can top off your treatment with a glass of champagne and even lunch, whilst watching Udaipur town and the meandering traffic of the river pass by.
Book the hotel’s guided tour to truly discover the glorious and distinguished past of the palace that has been so remarkably retained and restored by the Taj Group. Customise your experience with a plethora of magnificent moments, from private dining interludes and consulting traditional astrologers to a vintage car ride through the town or a sunset cruise to watch the sun dip below the horizon setting the palace and Udaipur alight with a burst of flaming colour. Tailor made services are available and are provided discreetly by butlers who are the descendants of the original caretakers of the property and the royal family. They know the nuances of palace life better than anyone.
The Taj Lake Palace Udaipur is not only the most romantic hotel in Rajasthan, but also most definitely one of the most romantic destinations on the planet. Alluring beyond compare, it is a once-in-a-lifetime luxury experience unsurpassed in mystery and antiquity that is a must in India.