How many places do you know in the world where you can actually live right where the Maharaja is living next door to you? We can think of one. Umaid Bhawan Palace, an apogee of Rajasthan’s heritage is a symbol of evolution for the stunning expanse of Jodhpur.
The iconic structure was named after Maharaja Umaid Singh, the last king of what was known as the Marwar-Rathore Dynasty. It was built to provide employment to thousands of people during the time of famine in the 1920s. Now a home to the erstwhile Jodhpur Royal Family and currently world’s sixth-largest private residence, it has one thing in common with the iconic Taj Mahal of Agra— the Makrana marble that is used in its construction. Built on sprawling grounds of 26 acres of lush grounds including 15 acres of well-manicured gardens, it was the last palace to be built before independence.
This beautiful royal dwelling now turned into a hotel managed by the Taj Group, mandates a sense of history and conservation to capture the unique essence of royalty. Quintessentially Indian in its fabric, Indian Hotels Company Limited is recognized around the world for delivering its legendary hospitality that offers world-class refinement while remaining deeply rooted in its native heritage. Together they have been a pioneer in delivering refined luxury and unforgettable experiences which led to it being awarded with TripAdvisor's Travelers' Choice pick for India's best hotel in 2018.
If there is anything as grand as this palace in Jodhpur, it is its elder sibling the Mehrangarh fort. Much has been said about the Mehrangarh, for truly, it is one of the most impressive and best preserved fort in all India. Regal and intimidating, it is one of the few forts in India that is privately operated. Just like the Umaid Bhawan Palace, Mehrangarh is known to be the keeper of heritage and stature.
These two prestigious sites portray two different sides of the bygone era and seem to be the most appropriate places to taste the spirit of Rajasthan. An opulent palace from the 20th century where one gets to experience life in the Royal hues and the rustic fort that is imposing, invincible and yet holds a strange mesmerizing beauty that beckons one to explore the grandeur and power of Rajputs.
The Taj known for its need to preserve and promote the ethnicity of India was inspired to collaborate with Mehrangarh Museum Trust to create an ultimate luxury experience. This combined with rising needs of the uber luxury traveler and their affinity to explore local culture led to the “History Beckons at Mehrangarh” experience.
The experience is built around the core elements of Jodhpur; heritage, folk and culinary art. The evening setting is exclusively fashioned for the guests of Umaid Bhawan Palace where they will be filled with noble and earnest sense of hospitality.
The enjoyment is less about what one does and more based on how they are made to feel. Because of this, our experience is a combination of how one’s senses interpret the entire input going into it. This sensory experience has come into existence after a lot of brainstorming by the best individuals in the industry. This project involved getting the best of the light & sound engineers, historians, folk artists, culinary experts to create a journey which encapsulated the essence of Jodhpur. Smallest elements have to be considered while molding an experience. Sound technicians have to balance the decibel level keeping in mind the age of the fort and vicinity surrounding it, light engineers have to work to bring out the beauty of the fort by highlighting the architectural magnificence in the night.
Once the ambience was ready, the search for the oldest and rarest folk arts began. Different tribes with dying art forms were approached and an effort to preserve these art forms were made. Ancient instruments that were long forgotten like “Khamaicha” (a string instrument) or dance forms of the nomadic tribe called “Kalbeliya” were reintroduced.
The experience begins with the first glimpse of this beautifully illuminated colossal monument that creates an anticipation within as to what lies ahead.
The guests are received with the traditional welcome song, “Padharo Mhare Desh”, literally meaning “Welcome to my land” by Royal band who are lined up in their ceremonial uniforms on one side and camel caravans on the other. The welcome is replicated from the bygone era where the guests of the erstwhile Kings were welcomed.
Pre-function cocktails are served at the entrance where the guests allow themselves some time to admire the majestic fort. They are then presented with customary colorful nine meter long turbans called “safa” and traditional Jodhpuri stoles called “Bandhani chunri”.
The doors of the fort are opened and the guests are led by mashals, lancer men and fanfare. The fanfare consists of dancers with novelty horses, mock fighting on the music of dhol and thal. The procession showcases different cultural performances by the local artists of Rajasthan. Pirouetting ladies with numerous pots balanced on her head, dancers creating music from the cymbals tied on their body, soulful musicians singing life passage songs are just few of the many performances through which our guests experience the deep steeped cultural legacy.
As the procession reaches its destination, the guests then get a chance to appreciate the evolution of royal identity in the kingdom of Marwar-Jodhpur through the prism of their Champagne glass during the exclusively curated tour by the Director and Historian, Karni Singh Jasol. From the Period rooms of Mehrangarh with remarkable interiors that offer a glimpse into the bygone eras to the reflection of wall art and paintings that can only be experienced in the evening, the tour covers every single detail about the culture, art form and different rulers of Marwar that keeps one mesmerized and asking for more.
The tour comes to an end at the rampart where one enjoys the sky painted with beautiful hues of the sunset and the blue city of Jodhpur.
Cocktails begin on the rampart just as the evening stars come out to twinkle, with the view of the blue city on one side and performance with the fort as a backdrop on the other. Mehrangarh being the highest dining point in Jodhpur serves as the best setting for the Royal Marwar Meal Experience, crafted by the Chefs who have honed their skills in the Royal Kitchens. Royal Marwar Meal Experience, is a feeling of luxury synonymous with Indian regality, evoked through food and service. The meal centers around a dish called the ‘thali’, which in simple terms translates to a plate. However, what makes this plate more than just a piece of metal is the way it harmonizes all different flavors while depicting the Marwar region’s most glorious culinary treasures. It represents the region’s specialties through locally sourced ingredients, skillfully crafted into aptly portioned dishes, fit for an individual. The journey that begins with spiced buttermilk and appetizers and ends with a gourmet Indian sweet sampler, is only enriched by the service it offers which is fit for no less than a king!
After the befitting tribute to the Maharaja’s lifestyle, when the guests get up to leave with the treasured experience etched in their minds, they witness an extravagant fireworks show that reminds them to “live life King size”.
Already signed up? Already signed up? Already signed up? Already registered? Login here!