Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lake Palace interior

True to its majestic past the suites and public rooms of the Taj Lake Palace are decorated with opulent Asian elegance.

Furniture is inlaid with ivory, deeply cushioned, or carved from dark and heavy Indian wood. Brass lanterns sway at the end of long chains and glints of reflected sunlight from myriads of stained glass windows shimmer like tiny coloured jewels on marble floors.

Jharokhas (arched windows with carved marble screens) through which royal women in purdah were able to unobtrusively view life on the outside are a feature in many of the rooms. In the centre of the Khush Mahal Suite, once the private domain of the Maharani, an antique jhoola swings gently from ornamental chains.

The swimming pool too, was an inviting diversion. Sheltered by arches supporting heavy sprays of flowering Bouganvillea, and walls embedded with delicate mirrored and silvered flowers and fruits tipped with coloured enamel, guests lounged on patio chairs. As we swam in the late afternoon a flock of long-tailed green parakeets swooped down over our heads to land, en masse, in the branches of a mango tree beside the pool.

Ornamented wall beside swimming pool
Looking across the waters to Udaipur it was hard to believe that in rare dry years Lake Pichola is sometimes completely devoid of water. Then it is possible to walk across the exposed lake bed to Jag Mander, another of Udaipur’s lake palaces. Be warned though – there can be unexpected traffic. The current Maharana and owner of the Lake Palace has been known to drive his Rolls Royce across the parched sediment when visiting his property.

Dining at the Lake Palace is a sumptuous affair. ‘Fleet your time carelessly, undisturbed except for the flutter caused by cool breeze’ was the quaint but inviting description for dinner on the patio. Guests can also enjoy a romantic dinner on the Gangaur boat. Lit by hundreds of candles the antique royal barge cruises the lake rowed by a dashing crew in colourful Rajasthani dress.

At the Neel Kamal Restaurant we sampled Indian cuisine – vegetarian Palak Paneer, a mouth-watering blend of cottage cheese and spinach in a spicy sauce.

Posted by Anne Gordon on Saturday, 13th November, 2010


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