Being a movie buff and an ardent fan of James Bond, I had always longed to visit the Taj Lake Palace. Ever since I watched the iconic final scene of the 1983 film ‘Octopussy’, in which Bond, played by Roger Moore, saves the day in this magnificent palace, I knew I had to see it for myself. And recently, I was lucky enough to turn my dream into a reality. I got the opportunity to visit the Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur and it surpassed all my expectations.
Everywhere I looked, I was surrounded by lush upholstery and ornate architecture that exuded royal luxury and grandeur. The mere sight of the palace left me in awe, and I couldn't help but feel like I had stepped into a different world altogether.
But what truly sets this exquisite palace apart for me was its association with James Bond. As I wandered through the marble walls and centuries-old archways, I couldn't help but feel a thrill of excitement, like I had stumbled upon a secret passageway to Bond’s world. The palace played a central role in the ending of the film ‘Octopussy', where Bond managed to save the day with his wits. It was easy to see why the palace was chosen as a backdrop for cinematic extravagance, with its regal luxury and romantic allure.
Indulge In The Royalty Of Rajasthan
However, the palace’s grandeur goes beyond its association with Bond. Built in 1746, the palace was initially intended as a summer abode for Maharana Jagat Singh II. Legend has it that Singh was told by a holy man that the land he was building his palace on was particularly lucky. To honor this, Singh went on to build an exquisite floating palace that would sit amidst the placid waters of Lake Pichola, providing the Maharaja with the perfect summer getaway.
As I walked around the palace, I could see why King Singh was so drawn to this place. Its structure crafted from enchanting local Rajnagar marble, transported to Udaipur by steadfast bullock carts, was an edifice unparalleled in both beauty and class. The unique Mewar/Rajput architecture infused with subtle Mughal influences was a true gem on the serene surface of Lake Pichola.
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Wandering through the gorgeous indoor gardens, I found myself enchanted with each step I took. The gardens not only enhanced the palace’s beauty but also concealed its true size.
I came across an array of rare antiques and artifacts, reminding me of an era of unmatched royal extravagance. The courtyards of the palace offered spectacular views of Udaipur city’s greatest landmarks, such as the Aravalli hills and Jag Mandir, and I couldn’t help but feel like royalty as I walked through them.
One of the most impressive features of the palace was its architecture, which blended Mughal and Rajput styles in a grand expression of luxury.
The palace’s various archways, distinctive pointed domes, and intricate carvings reflected the best of India’s traditional architecture. Intricate stained glass panes adorned the palace’s windows, while elaborate hand-carved doors and walls were embellished with ancestral artworks that gave the palace its unique character.
The Art Of Royal Cuisine
And let’s not forget the cuisine. I was in for a treat at the Taj Lake Palace Hotel, with a selection of three world-class restaurants and bars to choose from. This trinity of gourmet gems presented an astonishing variety of cuisines that catered to even the most refined and particular palates.
Jharokha, a restaurant, and bar that operated throughout the day, offered an exquisite selection of international cuisines to sate every traveler’s appetite. Meanwhile, the unparalleled selection of European dishes at Bhairo was sure to leave me speechless.
However, the crown jewel of the Taj Lake Palace Hotel’s restaurants was the Neel Kamal, which provided an unparalleled gastronomic experience of authentic Indian cuisine. Here, the dining experience was more than just a meal. It was a sensory journey that offered a tantalising blend of spice, texture, and flavor.
As I sat back and relaxed, I could enjoy 24-hour personalised butler service, making me feel like royalty for whose benefit the palace was originally constructed.
Should I have decided to venture out from the palace’s regal confines, the hotel provided the luxury of a swift water-taxi ride, conveniently located at the city pier. And as if being surrounded by a water kingdom wasn’t enough, the Taj Lake Palace Hotel went one step further by being the home of a full-sized swimming pool, yoga facilities, rooftop bar, restaurant, and even a spa aboard a ship! Truly, everything was better on a boat.
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