Samode Ma­hal, Ra­jasthan

Architectural Digest (UAE) - - Portfolio -

Of­fer­ing an en­tic­ing in­sight into the lost world of Ra­jput roy­alty, 500 year-old Samode Ma­hal, still cap­ti­vates all who en­ter through its stud­ded ele­phant doors. Nes­tled be­tween hills at the edge of Samode vil­lage, 40 kilo­me­tre north of Jaipur, the palace was in­her­ited by broth­ers Rawal Raghven­dra Singh and Ya­dav­en­dra Singh and con­verted into a ho­tel in 1987.

The desert town of Samode in the Shekhawati area of Ra­jasthan has long been ruled by the noble Kach­waha clan, to whom the Jaipur royal fam­ily also be­longs.

This clan, renowned for their brav­ery and horse­man­ship, claims de­scent from Kusha, the younger son of Lord Rama. Samode was his­tor­i­cally a rich town in the king­dom of Am­ber and was put un­der British ‘pro­tec­tion’ for a time be­fore be­ing re­stored to the rul­ing fam­ily in 1757. Their lin­eage con­tin­ues to­day along with the ti­tle of ‘Rawal Sa­heb’ con­ferred on them in recog­ni­tion for ser­vice and val­our.

A 19th-cen­tury an­ces­tor, Rawal Berisal, who served as chief min­is­ter of the state, con­verted the fort into a fan­ci­ful palace re­plete with tiered court­yards, chha­tris and painted halls. A de­scen­dant, Rawal Sheo Singh, prime min­is­ter of Jaipur, fur­ther en­larged the Palace, which now has 43 guest bed­rooms, in­clud­ing four royal suites. He cre­ated the dur­bar hall that is still the glo­ri­ous heart of Samode Ma­hal to­day and was de­scribed at the time as ‘an ex­trav­a­gantly florid and hand-painted af­fair’.

A short drive takes vis­i­tors to the flower-filled Samode Bagh, an 18th-cen­tury plea­sure gar­den es­tab­lished by Rawal Sheo Singh as a re­treat for the royal fam­ily. Sta­bles with hand­some horses lead to an en­filade of foun­tains, flower beds, and arched pavil­ions, set in a gar­den filled with dune-coloured tents evok­ing colo­nial hunt­ing par­ties. This is a place where the con­tem­po­rary world melts away into a scented, peace­ful scene that is ut­terly time­less.

Samode Ma­hal’s re­cently re­stored mir­rored Dur­bar Hall has been the set­ting for grand events and wed­dings for cen­turies

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