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Lord Curzon once said — "Udaipur is the most beautiful among the beauties, the grandest even amongst all the grandeur of Rajputana". His words came to mind when I alighted from the hotel car and went through the entrance of ShikarBadi — the hunting lodge of the Royal Family of Mewar, now transformed into a luxury resort of HRH Group Of Hotels with a private airstrip, stud farm, deer park, waterfront, landscaped gardens and cottage-style rooms in dense foliage. This, apart from the hunting-themed Wilderness Bar lined with trophies, old maps and photographs of the Royal Family of Mewar, the pool deck and the restaurants serving global and Mewari cuisine. 


Wishing to escape the frenetic pace of life with a weekend getaway, I had chosen the perfect resort where all I had had to do… is nothing. ShikarBadi pampers guests with luxurious accommodation and the most hospitable management. Its location off the beaten track, spread over 200 acres of dense foliage, makes it ideal for tourists who wish to adopt the concept of Slow Living and soak in the sheer beauty of the waterfront and the Aravali hills, take a ride on thoroughbreds at the stud farm, feed spotted deer who shyly come up to the cottages, take a swim and indulge in sumptuous cuisine. Yet, you are not disconnected unless you wish to be. The resort has hi-speed wi—fi!


Coming to my stay, after a quick check-in I was escorted to a cottage-style room overlooking the waterfront and the hills beyond. What impressed me was large mirrors, bright lighting, rugged walls with lovely paintings and the softest bed with crisp white sheets and a dozen soft pillows. Soon, I got a welcome note, bouquet of flowers and cookies followed by much camaraderie with the management who offered thoughtful suggestions about how I could best spend my time there, which added lustre to my trip. I then left for a formal lunch at Jagmandir Palace—a surreal experience that took three-four hours—and returned to the resort by 3 p.m. to unwind and pamper myself. 


The management took me over to the stud farm where the magnificent, playful horses were eager to come up close and pose as I gleefully photobombed and fed them! Originally bred as battle horses for erstwhile Rajput nobles, today the Mewar Stables carry offspring from the best bloodlines of the Marwari breed and polo ponies. I then headed to the deer park where a member of the staff was feeding them and invited me to join in.  At first, the deer quietly observed me and then came up, followed by a flock of peacocks and pigeons! Blissful!! As the sun set, I took a stroll around the property and could not help admiring the care that has been taken to preserve the heritage, manifested in the minute detailing in the architecture, the waterfront that attracts game, the cuisine and the well-thought of activities [and non-activities] tailored for guests in a captivating natural topography. And speaking of sunset, the rest of the evening was spent observing the sun downer from the pool at the edge of the waterfront. Where else can you get such a beautiful view of peacocks lining up in dozens to walk over to a take off point and fly home? And observe grazing deer retreating into the darkness? All this, while enjoying piping hot tea and buttered toast. 


At 7, I retreated to my cottage, switched on the heater, took a warm shower and dressed for dinner. Mr. Subramanian, Vice President PR, HRH Group of Hotels, who had coordinated each aspect of my stay so thoroughly, had advised me to carry a warm jacket; it was useful as there was a chilled breeze across the waterfront as I made my way to the pool deck for dinner. Dinner was an ethereal experience as a few beautifully plated, candle-lit tables flanked by mashals had been prepared for guests who wished to dine outdoors. Pouring me a mug of chilled beer, the manager enquired about my dining preferences. I wanted to keep it light so he sent over sumptuous murgh tikka bhunna and hara bhara kebabs accompanied by fresh flavourful salad and pickles. He did mention that Laal Maas was their specialty and I cannot wait to try it on my next visit!


The day passed too fast and returning to my cottage at 10 pm, the crisp fresh linen and the softest bed I have laid on, ensured sound sleep, only to be woken up by the call of peacocks the following morning. Just as first light hit the horizon, the peacocks flew back one by one, each calling the next. Soaking in the vista, and photobombing it once again, I checked out, which brings me to the last thoughts of my stay at ShikarBadi: the warm hospitality, the competitive pricing, the local sustainable processes, the knowledgeable staff, the personalised service and the sheer luxury ensure guests will not want to leave the royal retreat—and will be back soon! I know I will as my stay there was delightful, to put it mildly.


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Shikarbadi Hotel, Goverdhan Villas, Udaipur, Rajasthan.

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