Get lost in time, as, ‘Time is History’ and ‘History is Time’.
The ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur, in Rajasthan, welcomes you to ‘SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace’, one of the oldest and most treasured properties of the capital city. To understand the historical importance of this heritage property, built in 1729, one has to divulge back in time, to see the many transformations, in its over almost 300 years of existence.
It was originally built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh, as a pleasure garden for his wife. It changed hands, to become the official residence, of the British Political Agent, during the British Raj. In 1958, Maharaja Sawai Man Singh 2, chose Rajmahal, as his personal residence. Since then, the palace has been witness to, and played host to, royalty (the Queen of England and the Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke and the late Duchess of Wales),dignitaries (Lord and Lady Mountbatten),and celebrities like the late, Jacqueline Kennedy, who have enjoyed its famed ,royal, Rajasthani hospitality.
Hence, this property of 14 Royal Apartments, Suites and Palace Rooms, take their names from the very same people who have stayed here.
The feeling of royalty began after touch down at Jaipur airport on the 31st of January, 2016, when we were whisked away in a white, chauffeured limousine, to the Rajmahal Palace. We were escorted up the unblemished, white marble steps, after we had stopped to admire the vintage ‘Thunderbird’, bearing the red number plate, ‘Jaipur 1’, which only royalty was allowed to use, parked in the porch. We were welcomed with flutes of champagne, even before we got to eat a morsel of food! What a bubbly start to the day!
We royally swept into the portals of the ‘Darbar Hall. The grandeur of the room took our breath away. We were immediately struck by the intricately carved beautiful and large glittering chandeliers, throwing their soft iridescence on the deeply hued, rich upholstery. The huge Russian paintings on either side of the walls, covered by wallpaper, whose motif has been inspired from the carpet under your feet. The glass tables support large Chines Ming vases, surrounded by white marble urns which have fragrant, red rose petals, floating inside them. Black and white photographs in memory of the elite who have passed through its august corridors. Silver candle stands, holding lit candles, reflecting its contents on the tables, as also the chandeliers above. The carved archways in contrasting colours of blue and gold. Low slung sofas and high straight backed chairs, thrown with an abundance of soft, fluffy cushions, to sink into. The marble fire place with its mantelpiece, also displaying more photographs, candle stands and marble vases. Rich. Lavish. Magnificent. And, above all, Royal. The mood here is hushed and muted. Almost as if you are waiting for history to wash over you.
Steps of the milky white grand marble staircase, took us to our room, the 862 sq.ft. ‘Resident’s Suite’, where we were to spend our first 2 nights. Like all other rooms, the gleaming chandeliers occupy the central position in the room, reflecting light off its myriad pieces of glass. The king sized, extremely comfortable bed and pillows with its monogrammed royal emblem on the linen. The table strewn with coffee table books on Polo, on Rajasthan, on Ranthambore. The very large bathroom with its Jacuzzi tub to one end. Toiletries of the highest quality and all fittings in the whitest of marble.
Your mirrored image follows you everywhere, along the length and breadth of the palace hotel, due to the copious use of glass. Be it on the doors, tables, mirrors placed in alcoves in the rooms and even picture and photo frames.
That afternoon, an invitation, to attend the royal sport of the rajas and maharajas of India – polo on horseback, could not be turned down. The Vodafone Sirmur Cup was the last of the season and saw many spectators. From members of the royal family, to locals, to tourists, from India and abroad. All out to enjoy the thrilling 5 chukker game, on a pleasant winter afternoon. The high octane match saw every one cheering loudly for their favourite teams. Match over, we proceeded to the ‘Palladio Bar’, at the Narain Niwas Palace. A popular watering hole, which also serves great Italian food. The al fresco section sending out its warmth into the cold night from the burning ‘sigris’.
You can also choose to make a graceful entry to the property through the ‘Chinoiserie Room’. An elongated corridor with the theme of crimson and sapphire blue being prominent as they are reflected in the beautifully patterned wall paper of exotic birds and flowers. And of the upholstery of the sofas that line its either side. A richly coloured and breathtakingly attractive room.
This leads into ‘The Vestibule’, where a grand piano has found its silent place. Lost in memories of when its music resounded through the palace on innumerable happy and unforgettable occasions.
Carry on into the ‘Polo Bar’. Its walls and shelves lined with hunting trophies as also award winning black and white photographs of various polo matches won. A place, for reminiscence. You can choose, ‘The Collonade’, with its fresh feel of blue and white, for all day dining. ‘51 Shades of Pink’, a cheerful, breezy room, in many shades of pink and the upholstery in the faintest shade of ‘mehendi’ green, on white chairs, is your place for breakfast and lunch.
Both these restaurants open out to a lawn with canopied seating and a small lotus pond. This was our favoured place for breakfast. The swimming pool is surrounded by greenery and fountains and is an option for al fresco dining. The ‘Orient-Occident’, is where we had a delicious dinner on the most beautifully decorated crockery of a floral motif in brilliant red, a vibrant green parrot and a golden rim. It actually enhanced the flavour of the food! The white, liveried staff, with their very long, pale pink, turban tails, flapping behind them, unobtrusively fulfil your wishes.
We were fortunate enough to spend 1 night here, at the 2899 sq. ft. Maharani Apartment, to experience, how, a true blue blooded Maharani lives, in the lap of luxury. Rajmata Padmini Devi, being one of them. The apartment consists of a vast bedroom combined sitting room, with an off shoot into a dressing room and en-suite bathroom. A dining room for private parties with a kitchenette. Plush, regal and mesmerizingly beautiful. A heated plunge pool lies in an enclosed courtyard, leading down from the apartment and away from prying eyes.
The emblem of the royal family is conspicuously emblazoned everywhere. From the bed and bath linen, to bathroom slippers and serviettes. On doors and mirrors. On the wallpaper and even the stationery. After a lot of shopping and some sightseeing, a suggestion to avail of the facilities at the spa, ‘Rang Niwas’, was accepted with alacrity. The restoration work, undertaken lovingly and meticulously, by the celebrated designer, Adil Ahmad, allows guests to get a glimpse of royalty of a by gone era. The differently patterned wall paper in particular, has a different story to tell. They embody the many stories of Jaipur, its rulers and history of the State.
A different world lies behind each door. A feast for the senses. You do not know, what vignettes of history will unfold.
Go, to the ‘SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace’, in Jaipur, to step back in the annals of time, to experience a glorious, royal and enchanted era of yore!
Written by Ms. Renu Wadhwa