Don’t rush through Rajasthan; make sure you rest a while at Shahpura Bagh to absorb the real colour of this wonderful Indian state.
So often, we hear of people who’ve been on ‘The Golden Triangle’ tour being hurried through India to give them a taste of its wonders, leaving them exhausted and overwhelmed.
Part of any tour will inevitably cover at least the mesmerisingly busy city of Jaipur, if not Udaipur and Jodhpur as well, with perhaps a quick ‘tiger’ jungle experience in Ranthambore.
The itinerary will promise great things but might forget to mention the travelling times between some of these wonderful locations. Well, now we offer you a solution – Shahpura Bagh.
Not only is it exactly half way between Jaipur and Udaipur, or Kota and Jodhpur but it’s convenient for Ranthambore National Park as well – so if you’re keen on seeing Rajasthan properly, without becoming fraught by rushing everywhere, then you must stop at Shahpura Bagh.
Be warned however – you might wish you’d stayed longer!
This elegant royal summer palace is still occupied by the rulers of Shahpura. Its nine spacious guest rooms, beautiful surrounding gardens, nearby lake and authentic home-cooked Rajasthani food make you feel very much part of the family in this luxury residence.
Our room is enormous and well appointed, with the slightly faded charm of authenticity to its fixtures and fittings that are so much more genuine than the rigid perfection of new.
There’s also an ease and charm to the estate that finds you taking spontaneous walks, rides and picnics around the grounds to enjoy its natural surroundings. Alternatively, you might choose to laze by the sizeable pool or to relax under the canopied awning whilst sipping a G&T or snacking over lunch.
Whatever you do, there’s no need to hurry. The longer you stay, the more that tension just seeps out of you.
An easy, early morning stroll around the lake with Khan, our enthusiastic guide, reveals countless birds, some of which we’ve never seen before, such as the Purple Swamp Hen.
Bill Turnbull, the once early-morning face of Breakfast TV is a fellow guest and we all take a short early evening drive to the family’s fort at Dhikhola, set on the hill above a quaint village of the same name. There we spend a companionable time chatting together over a glass or two of wine – served by a colourfully pugaree bedecked retainer – as the sun sets below the crumbling ramparts that one day will be another luxury hotel.
The village itself is a time capsule of rural life and a great opportunity to get under the skin of ‘real’ India, rather than the bottled tourist version. We travel back to Shahpura Bagh in the warm evening air, passing an open trailer load of vivid-coloured sari-clad local girls on their way home from the fields.
We freshen up in time to sit in the softly lit spacious dining room and enjoy a multi course meal of Rajasthani food, prepared on the premises by the family’s chef.
With all the options of boating, walking, sundowners, birdwatching, farm, temple and village visits, you’d be forgiven for thinking that your time at Shahpua Bagh would be frenetic but it’s not. You simply choose what you’d like to do and when you’d like to do it – and doing nothing is also very much an option.
I wile away a few very pleasant moments just sitting at the edge of a field in the grounds, as elegant sari-clad women and their children toil at harvesting wheat in the golden early morning sunshine.
We take a short walk into Shahpura village for market day and although we’re free to wander unhindered or pestered by traders more familiar with tourists, soon turn tail and seek the sanctuary and refuge of calm back at ‘our’ residence.
We have to admit, before going there, that we saw Shahpura Bagh as a slightly unnecessary, possibly irrelevant but otherwise convenient break in our journey to more important places. Nothing could have been further from the truth. This little foray will give anyone truly interested in the actual fabric of India, rather than just its highlights, an excellent insight into what makes this wonderful country tick.
Shahpura Bagh offers an insight into royal lineage, local life and rural practice that puts much of what else you’ll see in Rajasthan into context – as well as offering you a tranquil and thoroughly enjoyable break from constant travelling.
It’s important to be tempted by Shahpura Bagh, rather than be teased by the chance to fit more of the famous sites into your itinerary. Shahpura Bagh adds perspective, sanity and pleasure to any tour of Rajasthan.
If you simply want more information about this wonderful residence then follow the link here – or why not ask us to arrange your own tailor-made travel to India – see below.
Why not download the TLC World guide brochure or give us a call today on 01202 030443, or simply click ‘enquire’ to submit your own personal itinerary request