Samode Palace Jaipur
¤ The Samode Attractions
nestles quietly among the rugged hills of the Northern Aravallis. As
you weave your way through these low hills, the Samode Fortpalace,
perched high on a ridge, looms into view. But the high point of a trip
to this place is the imposing Samode Palace, now converted into a
hotel. The village is full of character; local artisans churn up
beautiful printed cloth and glass bangles. and that's not all, there's
a small artist's colony which produces wonderful miniature paintings
on old paper (See Arts & Crafts for more on miniature painting of
Rajasthan). A walk through the old painted havelis (mansions) of
Samode can be real fun, like walking into the past.
¤ Samode Ruled By Nathawat Clan
Samode was ruled by the Nathawat clan, one of the lesser clans in
Rajput ridden Rajasthan. But these chieftains did in no way misprize
their status; they adopted the title of 'Rawal' for themselves. The
region was under the larger Jaipur kingdom, and one of the wealthiest
in it. The Rawals of Samode were absolute lords of their small
fiefdoms, but some of them were also ministers in the Jaipur court. At
times they went beyond their means to prove their loyalty, like what
one Rawal Ram Singh did. At just 16 he fought fiercely and
successfully defending the fort of Ranthambhore against the powerful
Marathas, and according to legend, even after his head had been
severed from his body!
¤ Samode Palace
This ochre and white hereditary home of the Nathawats which rises
like a solid block out of the earth, is about 400 years old. For the
first half of its existence, however, it was little more than a
fortified Rajput stronghold. It was only in the early 19th century,
during the times of Rawal Bairi Sal Singh and his son Rawal Sheo
Singh, who was also a minister in the Jaipur court, that the feudal
castle begin to wear the sumptuous look that it is now famed for. The
most fabulous part of the palace is undoubtedly the extravagantly
ornate Durbar Hall, built by Sheo Singh. The place glows with
meenakari, an enamelling technique introduced by Man Singh I (ruled
1589-1614) when he brought master minakars from Lahore.
¤ The Magnificent Interiors of the Palace
The hand-painted walls and gilded pillars in the hall are also
breathtaking. This grand Durbar Hall with its huge chandelier was the
place for holding all state functions in Samode. Overlooking the hall
is the magnificent Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace). It was from here,
through the jali (latticed) screens, that the royal ladies could have
a glance of what was happening in the hall below. Because in those
days, women would not be allowed in men's gatherings, or even go out
of their quarters. The Sultan Mahal has miniature style paintings on
religious subjects. In fact, all rooms in the Samode Palace have
painted panels of murals, often interspersed with decorations set with
Samode Palace-one of the Best Palace Hotels of India
The democratic post independent era saw a decline of the 'maharaja
way of life', and Samode Palace like so many others was thrown out of
resources. So the eager entrepreneurs, Thakur Yaduvender Singh and his
brother Raghuvender, began to turn the palace into an exotic site for
luncheons and special tourist group visits in the 80's. The place
became an international hit as the location for the television series
based on the book The Far Pavilions. It got a bigger boost when it was
featured in a magazine, with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis celebrating
its beauty. and the exotic Samode Palace was on its way to glory.
Today it is one of the best Palace Hotels in the country, combining
the splendour of bygone days with modern amenities.
Note :- The palace is not open for sightseeing; only guests are
¤ Samode Fort
Samode Fort stands like a sentinel on a hill above the Samode Palace.
This used to be the raja's former residence, before Samode Palace was
built. Having being neglected for so long, it's in a pretty bad shape
now. But the climb is worth just for the views alone. Ask the
caretaker to open the gate if you want a peek inside the dilapidated
ramparts. The fort also has a secret underground passage to it, which
was used during times of emergency. Walking among the ruins and the
surroundings makes one feel as if one is in another era. In fact,
wherever you go in Samode, you'll find a glimpse of the past, yet
untouched by time.
Note :- The walk into the Aravallis can be a tiring one, so remember
to wear good shoes and carry your own water.
¤ Samode Bagh
The Samode Bagh is a sylvan retreat modelled on the geometric style
of the Mughal garden. It was built by Rawal Sheo Singh, a scion of the
Nathawat clan of Rajputs. Members of the royal family would come and
spend moments of privacy and pleasure in the airy pavilions surrounded
by fountains and water channels. This 400-year-old place has now been
beautifully restored and thrown open to visitors.
¤ Durbar Tent
Step into the elegant Durbar Tent for a taste of desert hospitality.
Traditional Rajasthani music, song and dance seem to fill up the
spaces between fruit trees, grape vines and shrubs of jasmine,
oleander and hibiscus that grow in the surrounding lawns. The more
adventurous ones can explore the countryside by camel safari. Its
a joyous experience staying in the tents of Samode Bagh complete with
attached bathrooms, a swimming pool, croquet and tennis courts.