About Hotel Samode Palace
Deep in the desert, against a background of stony hills lies the large sprawling Haveli (palace) of Samode in the state of Rajasthan. On the scrubby hills around it one can see a couple of forts for which Rajasthan is famous. The landscape around Samode is painted in various shades of brown, burnt umber, gold, amber, and russet. Against this, the thorny kikar trees stand out greenish grey. What really dazzle the eyes are the colourful clothes of the people. On the way up from Jaipur one passes local women whose skirts swirl by in a fish of yellow, parrot green, hot pink, orange and turquoise. They walk by with an easy swinging gait, chattering like a flock of colourful birds. The men wear equally colourful turbans, sometimes in patterns of bandhini, which is tie and dye work or lahriya, a pattern of stripes. Even the camels are caparisoned with colourful embroidered saddle cloths and harnesses. Finally, the perfect touch of colors is added by parrots streaking past like bright green arrows. Peacocks flash a metallic turquoise in the sun. This is the landscape, a palette of colour through which the drive to Samode palace leads.
To reach the Haveli one has to first pass through the quaint little village of Samode. Small havelis and village houses are set on either side of a stone paved road. Some of the older village houses have murals and paintings done on the façade in the typical Rajasthani fashion. There are ornate wooden doors and windows with stone grills set into them…secret places for the inmates to look out. The stone road curves gently up the hill and entering through a high arched gateway one is finally inside the haveli gleaming a pale yellow in the sunlight.
Within the four walls you can almost believe you are in another world, in another time. The view of the façade is rather imposing; the main building fans out to the sides and a series of balconies one atop another are set in the centre. Fretwork screens run all along the length of the top floor, for people inside to look out unobserved. From the curved roof the family standard gaily flutters emblazoned with its coat of arms.
The Samode palace or haveli, call if what you will, belongs to the Rawalas of Samode. It is about four hundred years old, of course, with additions and new modifications. Of late it has been converted into a comfortable hotel run by the family. This family traces its descent form Prithvi Singh of Amber (1503-28), 17th prince of the house of Kachwaha Rajputs, who in turn trace their descent from Lord Rama. Gopal Singh, one of the 12 sons of Prithvi Singh was given Samode, which owed loyalty to the rulers of Amber and Jaipur. The warrior race of the Rajputs are known for their bravery. Once in a fierce battle, a Rawal noble fought very heroically, and was beheaded. Believe it or not, he still persisted in waging war! Sometime after the incident the noblemen of Samode were bestowed the title of 'Mhah Rawal', instead of just plain 'Rawal'. One hears the story form the bards.
The house is built in the characteristic pattern of an open courtyard with rooms leading off the arched corridor that runs along all four sides of the building. The Sultan Mahal is on the first floor - an exquisite room with a marble pillared verandah. It has the famous Jaipur blue tile decorations. Every inch of the ceiling and the walls are covered with floral, paisley and geometric motifs painted in vegetable colors. It is called Sultan Mahal after the painstaking craftsman, who created it. Old and heavy carved silver furniture brought form Nepal by the grandmother of the present Rawal gleams dully as a ray of sunlight strikes it. To the left of the main haveli is the Durbar Hall, which was built about a hundred years ago. Again it is completely painted in ornate floral motifs and colored delicately with vegetable pigments which still have a special glow of their own.
A hall of mirrors which is a must for any palace of consequence is also to be found in Samode. Large and tiny fragments of polished mirror are set into plasterwork - you walk into the room and see a thousand images of yourself. At night a single candle flame can create the effect of a thousand stars - a magical experience to say the least. The people of the desert love mirrors, because the cool polished surface reminds them of water. Paintings reminiscent of the miniature style depict warriors, scenes of shikar (hunting), birds and beasts and fish-eyed maidens frolicking with Lord Krishna.
There are 20 gracious elegantly appointed guest rooms done in traditional Rajasthani fabrics and furniture. When we were there an extra touch of glamour was added by the presence of the very young 'Rawal Sahib', walking around in his immaculate white Jodhpurs and short jacket. Samode being a family run hotel is small enough for all guests to merit personalized attention from its royal hosts.
The main dining room and terrace serve traditional Rajasthani food as well as a mix of Asian and European cuisine. Light snacks are served on the pool while an a-la-care menu is available at the central courtyard. There is also a bar and library.
Conference and Banquet facilities
The durbar Hall can accommodate up to 80 people. Smaller meeting rooms are also available. All audio-visual equipment and conference facilities can be arranged.
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