Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Memories of Mandawa

On my first journey to Mandawa, that I have chronicled in an earlier post, I didn't do justice to one amazing facet of the region, Castle Mandawa.

I'm no stranger to the traditional Rajasthani welcome and I don't mean the one you get at resorts trying to make a quick buck by distracting you with antics. No, Castle Mandawa does not have anyone waiting to welcome you with a song and dance routine, just a simple plate with vermilion put as a bindi to your head and you can walk yourself into the main courtyard.

Castle Manadwa is actually Mandawa Fort, the royal family of the region still live here. Only part of the property has been converted into a heritage resort with a luxurious cafe and poolside and really beautiful rooms. I had to take special permission to take a tour.

Like most other palace resorts, the Indian experience seems to be reserved for a non-Indian audience. Of the 80 rooms in all, including the Royal suites, Luxury Suites, Deluxe rooms and Standard rooms, most were occupied by international visitors.

The palace is built upon a vast expanse and a network of pathways lead from from area to another, it is quite like a city within the castle walls. I was ushered first to the poolside where I took a few moments to soak in the sun watching some children splashing about in the clear water. Then, I was led to a central courtyard to see how the rooms has been arranged for the guests.

The picture took me straight back to the Hazara Rama Temple in Hampi that I had visited, just that these images were far less painstakingly done. The entire Ramayana has been painted within this courtyard by the local Shekhawati artists. I stood there gaping at one image after another, soaking in the chapter in history until I was beckoned by my usher to have a look at the room. It was a deluxe room and quite cozy for a single seater.

I loved the ceiling of the bedroom which was painted completely in vibrant colours. The sitting area with a lovely window to spend hours reading was a delight as well. It felt a little too constricted, specially in the bedroom.
Back at the poolside, I asked for a glass of lemonade and was swiftly requested to join other visitors at the main cafe outside. Visitors are not served within the premises. Although the few moments within the Palace walls did make me feel no less than royalty, there were several polite reminders that I was not, I chuckled to myself savouring the sweet lime I ordered from the cafe.

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