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SHIV NIWAS PALACE, UDAIPUR

Luxury heritage hotel Shiv Niwas Palace dates back to the early twentieth century and beautifully illustrates the concept of living heritage; former residence of ShriJi Arvind Singh Mewar, the 76th Custodian of House of Mewar, it's a historical landmark built by Maharana Sajjan Shambhu Singh [1874–84] and completed by his successor Maharana Fateh Singh. In the family for decades, the property is imbued with luxury, history, romance and culture but also a very warm, friendly ambience the moment you check in. You are guaranteed a heartfelt welcome!

 

A little more about the hotel… Having hosted George V in 1905, Prince Of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II, King of Nepal, Shah of Iran, Jacqueline Kennedy and Roger Moore, it continues to host dignitaries and leisure travellers, under the guidance of Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar, Executive Director of the Historic Resort Hotels. Indulging in a sumptuous candle-lit dinner at the poolside last week brought back a flood of memories of my stay in The Royal Suite a year back. Ensconcing a reception, bedroom-and-balcony overlooking the cityscape and Aravalli hills beyond, dressing room, luggage room, wash room, pantry and business room, I had lived the life of a Princess. The hotel provides an exceptional standard of hospitality, steeped in global luxury while championing royal heritage. It was the stuff of fantasy… and isn't that what we all crave when planning a vacation? An experience unlike any… one we aren't likely to forger. Ever.

 

Though I wasn't staying in Shiv Niwas Palace during this trip to Udaipur, I spent significant time by the marbled pool, at the spa and strolling through the palace hotel, awe-struck by the priceless art collections including the earliest works of Raja Ravi Verma. The interiors feature ivory and mother-of-pearl inlay work, glass mosaics and frescoes by Khaja Ustadh and Kundan Lal. Sheer magnificence. I had heard that the lake views from the terrace are stunning and made my way up to the terrace for a recce; it was nothing like I had seen before and transfixed by the beauty, I vowed to book a terrace suite [with a private marbled terrace!] on my next trip.

 

This review would be incomplete if I failed to mention that Shiv Niwas Palace has been honoured with The National Tourism Award for Best Heritage Hotel in 'Heritage Grand' category for six years! Deeply appreciating the significance of living heritage at the completion of the four-day World Living Heritage Festival, I recommend Shiv Niwas Palace as a must-stay for both overseas and Indian travellers who want to feel connected to the magic of a royal past. And then a thought struck me — Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar had the foresight and the vision to reinterpret the history and cultural heritage of the palace into a property that works in the here-and-now, by treating the heritage hotel like a living, breathing entity. After all, we may be minimalists or modernists at home, but on some level, most of us swoon for the regal grandeur of another place and time. And once in a while, it's a treat to swan around like a princess or maharaja, enveloped by frescoed walls, priceless paintings and magnificent chandeliers. Jai Mewar!

— JASMEEN DUGAL

 
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Shiv Niwas Palace, The City Palace Complex, Udaipur, Rajasthan

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