Snuggled among the Aravali Hills in Rajasthan, ensconced on a hill amidst the rugged landscape, lies a 475-year-old Palace steeped in history, its stories and secrets waiting to be uncovered.
Samode is a large town in the Shekhawati Region of Rajasthan, originally belonging to the landowners (Zamindars) of the state of Amber. After being ruled by a long line of Rajputs from the Kacchwaha Dynasty, oversight of the town eventually passed onto the British Raj, who in turn entrusted the Zamindari of Samode to a line of noblemen they had conferred the title of Rawal Saheb to. This line of ownership has continued to this day.
Built simply to serve as a fortified Rajput establishment, it was the nobleman Rawal Berisal who had the brilliant idea of converting the Samode Fort into an extravagant Palace in the early nineteenth century.
Rawal Sheo Singh, a descendant of Rawal Berisal who also served as Prime Minister of the state of Jaipur for many years, continued to enhance its extravagance and added what are today the Samode Palace’s crowning glory – the gorgeous hand-painted Darbar Hall and the stunning Sheesh Mahal, or House of Mirrors.
In 1987, the Palace was remarkably restored by the present owners & descendants of the royal family of Samode, Rawal Raghavendra Singh and Yadavendra Singh. The Samode Palace, along with the Bagh (the royal gardens), and the Haveli (the royal residence) have been converted into Heritage Luxury Hotels to enchant travelers seeking a taste of royalty!
It was this regal splendor that my family and I made our way to, along with a close-knit party of family and friends, for my Brother-in-law’s wedding festivities in March earlier this year! It was a Destination Wedding like no other!
Located just off the Delhi-Jaipur Highway, roughly 250 kilometers from Delhi and about 42 kilometers before Jaipur, Samode Palace is easy enough to reach! We drove down from Delhi and made it in approximately 3 hours; it was the day of a major Indian festival so traffic was practically non-existent. Our guests from other parts of the country flew in to Jaipur Airport, from where the Palace is just about an hour’s journey away.
Once we branched off NH-8, or the Delhi-Jaipur highway, a narrow bumpy street meandered through the village for roughly 3 kilometers before we arrived at the imposing gates of the Palace compound. As we drove in to the entrance courtyard. I couldn’t help but gaze up at the charming façade of Samode Palace in wonderment, standing tall atop the proud staircase as if to welcome us into its comforting embrace. We made our way up the stairs eagerly, and after being welcomed with a garland of marigold flowers and a tikka (vermilion paste applied to a guest’s forehead as a mark of respect); we stepped into the dainty bougainvillea-covered inner courtyard. Everything around us was charming, from the aesthetic archways to the dignified doorways. We were surrounded by a quiet grace and understated elegance; and I couldn’t wait to explore the rest of it! The rooms were stunning, better than I could have ever imagined! Our Royal Suite on the top floor was decorated in classic hues of red, gold and ivory; with glistening marble floors and warm wooden furniture. It was hard to tell where the timeless elegance of tradition ended and the opulence of luxury began. That bright red sofa in the center of the sitting area looks deceptively rigid, but was so unbelievably comfortable I may or may not have passed out on it after a particularly debaucherous evening of wedding festivities. And the bed, oh my goodness! It was four-posters and draped in this dreamy sheer fabric that I of course had to go and get myself tangled in! Once untwined, I plopped down onto the heavenly bed and felt like I could stay there forever! Plush and cozy, I slept so soundly here that waking up and pulling myself out of bed in the mornings was a challenging task! But remaining snuggled up in bed too long, no matter how tempting the thought, would mean doing grave injustice to Samode Palace. I mean come on, there was a JACUZZI on our private terrace!
My suite at #SamodePalace has a jacuzzi on the terrace! ? I of course, spent the entire morning in it!!! #Travel #TravelBlogger #India #Rajasthan #HeritageHotels #PalaceHotels #Take12Trips #SeeTheWorld #india_pictures #ChillinLikeAVillain #LikeABoss A photo posted by Upasna (@upasna_lifeonmyplate) on
The bathroom was large and airy, keeping with the luxurious comfort of the rest of our suite. With separate his and hers washbasins, ample toiletries and a separate shower area as well as bathtub at the far end, the latter had a floor to ceiling glass panel next to it, affording a view of the mountains we were surrounded by.
So while I was often conflicted at the thought of leaving the warm embrace of my comfortable room, I’m happy to report back that there is plenty more beyond those doors as well. There is the option to take excursions out to the village to learn a bit more about Samode and its inhabitants; but the Palace itself had ample to do to keep yourself occupied.
You could find yourself a cozy corner and catch up on your reading.
Or you could just amble around its many hallways and be mesmerized by the intricate design and attention to detail in the architectural masterpiece.
Or you could spend all your time lounging in and besides the pool; Rajasthan does get quite hot after all and cooling off is imperative!
There are two swimming pools at Samode Palace. The first is a large marble-floored one decorated with mosaics, located beside the central courtyard (poolside here served as the venue for my brother-in-laws wedding ceremony).
The second is a gorgeous infinity pool, located higher up at one end of the palace. Only adults are permitted here, and there’s a covered Jacuzzi in a corner. It goes without saying, we gravitated towards this cozy corner a lot during our stay here!
And once we had worked up an appetite thrashing about in the pool, there was the glorious food to be had! Breakfast was served in the dining hall and consisted of fresh fruits and juices, breads and cheese, cold cuts and eggs-to-order. There was a selection of Indian foods to choose from as well. We usually piled up our plates with food and took them to the lovely terrace adjacent to the dining hall. Breakfast with a view has a certain charm of its own, I always feel.
There are two restaurants at the property, including a Private Dining Room accentuated in blue that is really very atmospheric. Everything we ate was absolutely delicious, from all the options included in the buffet at each of the wedding festivities, to a small private dinner the whole family had the night before all our guests arrived.
So if you’re looking for a short weekend getaway, just a few hours away from New Delhi, and if you’re in the mood to splurge a little bit, this is the place for you! There’s ample to do for all age groups, so make a family trip out of it if you must! Would I recommend it? Without a doubt! Would I go back? Without a shadow of a doubt!
Have you been to Samode Palace? What were your views? Or have you been to any other Heritage Haveli / Palace in Rajasthan? Which one is your favourite? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.
So, where are you off to today?