In August 2019 we did a road trip from mumbai to delhi. We stopped over at nights in Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Udaipur & jaipur. This is part of of a series of 5 posts about food & travel experienced during the trip.
Read about part 3 of 5 here: Taj Aravali resort & spa
This current post is about the stay at Taj Jai mahal palace, jaipur & the drive from udaipur to jaipur.
In a nutshell:
A very good stay at the beautiful taj Jai Mahal palace hotel & soaking into heritage, after a really long, almost non stop drive from udaipur
The drive from Udaipur to Jaipur was the highest distance of 403 km, compared to previous 3 days. We drove 7 hrs non stop with an exception of 15 minutes break.
The road infrastructure was commendable in general – yes, there were very few bad patches. However, the drive in this sector of Rajasthan had 3 very disturbing perils
1. In Rajasthan, Trucks were moving on all the lanes. (This was different from what we saw in Gujarat – there 80% trucks were in middle or last lane, not in the overtaking lane. Gujarat police managed this discipline thru constant reinforcement of this message at road signs, announcements at toll plazas, checks by police patrol cars etc). So one had no choice in Rajasthan, but to constantly hop lanes & drive like a snake – it was never possible to do a long stretch in a straight line. The other option was to cover the same distance in 11 hours instead of in 7 hours!!!
2. Holy cow on the highway!!! It was not at all funny that the cows were grazing on the grass in the road divider & just randomly walking in front of cars. At one point, I was so cautious that I slowed down after mistaking an off white stone as a cow from a distance. At places cows were sitting in the middle of the national highway!!!
3. No washrooms for the women was a huge problem. Delhi Jaipur & Delhi Agra highways have good washrooms for women. Nothing remotely close to that were to be found in this stretch. Even some Reliance petrol pumps (which I hv always earlier found very well maintained), the washrooms were filthy to the core.
Since we did not stop much, not too many pics of the journey but some taken from the car.
When we booked the whole trip thru Taj worldwide reservation, we got 3 choices for Jaipur – Rambagh, Jai Mahal, the Gateway Hotel Ramgarh lodge & Devi Ratn, Jaipur IHCL seleqtions. We realized that we will not be able to spend as much time – so thought of keeping Rambagh for the next trip & opted for Jai Mahal. We ended up doing the Ramgarh 5 months later. Review of the same coming up soon.
The original building of the palace was Built in 1745. It has Indo-Saracenic architecture (a fusion of Indian & Western architecture). The palace is situated in the middle of 18 acres of landscaped Mughal gardens. Jai Mahal Palace has been the residence of three Prime Ministers of the princely state of Jaipur.
This property was later restored & about 100 rooms & suites were carved out (including some rooms built in the same look & feel of the old ones).
‘Expansive’ yet ‘artistic’, are the words that come to mind, while describing the place.
While the external façade of the building had the arches, pillars, chhatris, jaalis & a lot more intricately designed elements, the colors were all light yellow & red accent.
The interiors (specially near the entrance) was a blast of colors. They were so beautiful & so colourful that one gets a unexpected visual shock immediately after entering. The flooring was made from multicolored stones inlaid. The walls had bright, exquisite paintings with high level of detail. The peacocks in the painting were just too beautiful.
In the evening, a ‘diya jalana’ (lighting the lamp) welcome dance ceremony was conducted here, for the guests. The hand crafted antique lamp shade that they were lighting, was just beautiful – it had hand crafted birds in it.
There were a series of Evening performances –
A beautiful small structure in the middle of the lawn is where the singers set up their stage. They sang qawallis & Rajasthani folk songs. The instrumental performance was outstanding.
The singers were very good but no match to the singers at Taj Falaknuma Hyderabad or Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, but much better than at Taj Aravali resort Udaipur.
The folk dancers of Rajasthan who performed here were really nice. They increased the intensity of difficulty of the performances with every new performance. The dancers also invited the female guests to join them in the performance, towards the end.
We sat in heavy, white colored, metal chairs in eth open area to enjoy the performance.
The all day diner was next to this area & they were serving snacks & drinks to the guests.
There were few stalls set up in one side, to experience local culture.
The arches & the chhatris looked magical in the evenings with the right kind of light intensity.
Our room was good in general – but the open area attached to it was fabhttps://yummraj.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/img_5820.mov
The next morning, we enjoyed our tea at the enclosed open area adjacent to our room, facing the palace.
A gentleman sitting in the Chattri in the middle of the lawn played flutehttps://yummraj.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/img_6087.mov
After breakfast we did a walking tour of the property
In addition to jaali work carved on stone, there were exquisite & intricate Jaali work on wood.
We spent some time at the stunning large chess in the ground. The knights, the elephants, pawns & all others had wheels & were mobile – One could play chess on this. This was not just for show.
The restaurants were in the old building. Arches, intricate jaali work on stone, subtle colors made the halls pristine yet stunningly beautiful.
The staff members at this hotel were a bit cold on most interactions in day 1, very very unlike Taj, more so, very unlike a Taj palace property. The gentleman who served us dinner at cinnamon was however super warm & hospitable. He made a positive difference to our experience.
Day 2 the guys at the breakfast place were very chatty. They were very warm & took care.
The lobby area had antique furniture, huge French windows, flowing curtains, elaborate chandeliers, exquisite carpets & a beautiful Royal set of chairs with an intricately designed silver layer on it.
A room adjacent to the lobby had a stunning peacock mural in bright colors, on the wall.
There were multiple restaurants in the hotel:
Cinnamon serves Royal Indian cuisines from four princely states. This is where we had our dinner. A separate post coming up on this restaurant later.
Giardino serves contemporary Italian food.
The all-day-dining, multi-cuisine restaurant is called Marble Arch. This is where we had our breakfast. We also enjoyed a good snack room delivered from here.
The same dishes (chicken tikka & Caesar salad) at taj Aravali udaipur tasted much better.
The bar is named Marigold.https://yummraj.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/img_6099.mov
The drive back from Jaipur to Delhi was marred by many potholes, lane indiscipline by trucks & occasional great views of the lush green hills.
Review of Cinnamon coming up next …….