“This is Kipling’s India,” said my new friend, Bob, a former school teacher from San Diego California referring to poet Rudyard, who was born and lived for many years in India.
Bob and I sat enjoying a civilized cup of refreshing Marsala tea on the patio of Pushkar Palace overlooking the Pushkar’s holy lake surrounded by many palaces and just metres away from the chaos of the narrow street beyond the threshold. This Zen-like ambience in the famous holy town of 12,000, with the only temple in India dedicated to Lord Brahma, has changed little over the centuries and its past goes back to medieval times.
Built 400 years ago, the now hotel with 53 deluxe rooms, was revamped by Jaget Singh, the 10th grandson of Rao Jodha, the founder of Jodphur. Singh grew up in what is now a WelcomHeritage managed property although he remains the owner. The lake palace was the summer residence of the Maharajah of Kishangarh and modeled in traditional Rajasthani style. As Singh and I walked through the streets, this man of impeccable taste, wearing a quasi western, perfectly fitting, Nehru collared suit, was bowed and saluted to by the locals, dozens of them employed at one of his three hotel properties. Pushkar Palace’s royal comfort in traditional Rajasthani style, has a panoramic view of the numerous temples and ghats.
The hotel was completely occupied which didn’t seem to surprise Singh since India has become a destination for those who have seen and ‘done’ Europe.
My room was on the fourth floor, reached by a narrow twisting marble staircase. Although the room was small compared to my expectations, I did have a breathtaking lake view which more than compensated for the squashed quarters. The bathrooms are modern, there’s a ceiling fan, enough wardrobe space and a heater for the coolish nights.
Suite #102, a huge palatial suite where Singh used to reside before opening another hotel in the nearby desert, is decorated with rosewood and local lime stone plus a palette of vibrant colours for which Rajasthan is known.
My neighbour who didn’t have a lake view, never seemed to leave his rattan chair on the outdoor terrace where he could see the hubbub of holy people praying at the lake and crowds of tourists, while he read his books, the caring staff always discreetly present. The only time he mingled was for the meals however, often he seemed to opt for room service at his perfect perch. The menu has a wide range but when in India, eat Indian and that includes great vegetarian choices. (The food at Pushkar Palace was perfect for the western taste..not too spicy but very traditional. Malai Kofta, Paneer Bhurji, Vegetable Raita, Missi Roti are some of the choices).
The 4 star rating is a bit of a hoax. It should be a five star hotel. However, taxes in India, like elsewhere, are a consideration and that extra five pointer would add additonal costs on the property, I was told by Singh.
Pushkar Palace attracts Europeans and Americans but it also appeals to the Indian people who see this as a cool summer escape, long recommended from generation to generation.
Another of Singh’s innovations, about a 15 minute drive from Pushkar city, is the very popular Royal Desert Camp, a tented resort in the Thar Desert. There are few places which captures the nostalgia or a time of royal safaris tents with the exception that this tented accommodation has permanent bathroom facilities. The blond fine sand looks as though a sculptor had a hand in the design of the pattern.
Pushkar Palace. Facilities include internet, air conditioning, laundry service, travel desk. Getting there. International Airport from New Delhi is 400Kms, Domestic Airport from Jaipur is 149 Kms, Rail in Ajmer is 13 Kms, For further information about Royal Desert Camp, firstname.lastname@example.org WWW.hotelpushkarpalace.com Tel 91 145 27722401
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