A Regal Sojourn in Rajasthan

Asia - Editor - 12 February 2007

A Regal Sojourn in Rajasthan

Unlike the British Monarchy, former Indian Princes and their families receive no State funds. Most royal residences in the sub-continent have become hotels as a result, and some are professionally managed by large international chains.

The Western State of Rajasthan, which is essentially the main border between India and Pakistan, is a treasure-trove of former palaces where every traveler (with a credit card!) is welcome. The State capital city of Jaipur, the lake city of Udaipur, and the desert city of Jodhpur, are most popular on the average tourist map, and have daily air connections with India metros of Mumbai and New Delhi as well. However, the State is sprinkled with smaller residences and forts in the hinterland of the well-known cities, where the adventurous can have special experiences of how the kings and queens of yesteryear lived.

While the prospect of tips in dollars must exaggerate behavior to some extent, hotel staff in every Rajasthan hotel essentially reflects the feudal traditions of the area. Even some of the leading politicians of the region are former princes and princesses, though they fight democratically for votes just like everyone else. Shops, dining places, and tourist spots echo the servile atmosphere of palace hotels, with people bowing and scraping the floor before you all the time. Jaipur is one of the few places in the world where Polo is still played, and it is worth a visit, for the prevalent glamour can make Ascot look like a flea-market!

Guest rooms in the palace hotels of Rajasthan are exquisitely appointed, and like enormous halls by modern standards! Indeed, the regal splendor of these hotels can be so beguiling that you might easily be tempted to remain within the confines of the gracious structures and the inviting lawns in which they are set, throughout your stay!

That would be a pity however, for the desert scenery, riot of colors that people wear, and the majestic camels and elephants on the streets, are all experiences like no other. You can fill entire albums with snap shots of Rajasthan, where time seems to stand still. There are also incredible bargains to be had in scores of small shops, which sell bewitching gems, textiles, and artifacts of marble, albeit a prior course in top-level bargaining will come in handy!


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