Samode Palace sits in the hushed Aravalli hills of Rajasthan, an hour’s drive from Jaipur. It’s a very special place. If the truth be known I’d prefer to keep Samode Palace Hotel and it’s 480 years of secrets to myself but this is a place that really should be shared…
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An Indian Street Party
Hot and tired we pulled off the main road and bumped up a dusty, rutted track where we had an unexpected encounter – a colourful, laughing crowd partying their way towards us – Indian-style. On the way to a festival or special event, the celebrations had started en-route; flags, tinsel and ribbons decorated a truck from which music blasted – bhangra, raga – don’t ask me what it was but the beat was infectious. The crowd sang along and danced along. Beaming faces peered into our car, excited, giggling children waved and women in vibrant saris stole shy glances from behind their veils. Everyone was smiling big time – including us.
We left the loud, lively throng behind and continued up into the hills, through the steep, busy main street of Samode village and through a final huge gateway. We’d reached Samode Palace itself and our first proper view was as we stood at the foot of its red-carpeted steps. We gazed upwards at the pale ochre fascia with its latticed windows, and wedding cake pillars unaware of the treasures that lay beyond. We were welcomed with a Namaste and a gajra (flower garland) placed over our shoulders. A tilaka pressed onto our foreheads for luck.
Entering Samode Palace
We entered Samode’s courtyard, the walls tumbling with riotous Bougainvillea; petal carpets of orange, purple and cream lined the walkways, frangipani wafted on the air. The enchantment of Samode began to weave its magic. En-route to our room we passed through scalloped archways, miniature gardens, fountains, antiques and walls adorned with lavish hand-painted frescoes and mosaics. Up twisting, narrow, stone stairways catching glimpses of the hillsides through small windows, through a maze of outdoor walkways and corridors not knowing what we’d find around the next corner – how on earth would we find our way back to reception – sat-nav maybe?
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Samode Palace Rooms
We eventually arrived at our room and it was so lovely that we decided we actually wouldn’t mind if we couldn’t find our way back. We found ourselves in a tranquil haven from the heat decorated in cool, calm lilac and white. Ornate pillars, curtained arches, and wooden shutters added to the ambiance. Gorgeous. The light airy bathroom adorned with frescoed walls, cool marble floors and high ceilings was divine. What you can’t see in this photo, and how I regret not taking the shot, is the shower. Set behind where I’m standing when I took this is the most glorious shower ever. Both the door and opposite shower wall are glass and look over the balcony and out onto the stunning view of the hills beyond.
A Tour of Samode Palace
This was all a bit of a tease – should I relax in this amazing room or explore the palace? My curiosity got the better of me, as always, and I explored. As I wandered through the courtyard taking photos a member of the hotel staff, a tall man, in a starched white jacket, beckoned to me to follow as he turned towards an archway. And so I followed…
A waft of scarlet flowed in his wake as his turban sash caught the breeze and he led me through beautifully decorated hallways. Warm rose-pink softly lit one room. Another had calm hues of soft powder blue and the most magnificent was bright with splashes of daffodil yellow and the sparkling reflections of mosaic mirrors. The Sheesh Mahal or Palace of Mirrors.
The Durbar Hall
Without uttering a single word my guide pointed out galleries, secret shuttered windows disguised as murals. I’d never have noticed them otherwise. Taking my camera he directed where I should stand. He took photos of me sitting in elaborate alcoves or near opulent frescoes. We ended at the magnificent Durbar Hall, its exquisite designs exploding with colour and adorning every inch of wall and ceiling. Galleries overlook the Hall of Mirrors on every side each with a different mood and ‘feel’ about it.
The unexpected mini-tour and photo-shoot lasted all of ten minutes and was very surreal. My silent guide vanished as soon as we arrived back at the main courtyard.
Hotel Samode Palace is a delight; set on many levels the Palace has several terraces looking out onto panoramic views. There are two pools – one a rooftop infinity pool with the hills providing a beautiful backdrop. Samode Palace abounds with enchanting features and at every turn we were met by an incredible burst of colourful artwork. We got lost more than once. Samode Palace is surely the most special of hotels in Jaipur.
It’s worth a trip down to the village to check out the work of the local artisans. Textiles, block-prints, glass, bangles and metalwork are all worth buying and also help the local economy. People from nearby villages are trained and employed by Samode Palace. Locally-grown produce is also bought for use in the kitchens so the hotel is an integral part of the local community.
If you should ever visit Jaipur try to spend a night at Samode Palace. It’s worth stretching the budget and I guarantee you’ll remember its magic always.
Visiting Samode Palace
Samode Palace Jaipur is located about 42kms north-west of the city and is close to Shekhawait on the tourist circuit of Rajasthan. Bus and taxi services are available from Jaipur and Delhi and the nearest railway station, Chomu is 5kms away. The train from Delhi takes around 4 hours. Jaipur is the nearest airport at 53km away. Best time to visit is October to March whilst the temperature is in the 20s-30s. Go in the summer and temperatures get up to the 40s. Monsoon season is generally June-September. Samode Palace has a sister hotel – Samode Havali, Jaipur so you can combine both hotels in your trip to the area. See more hotels in Jaipur.
Suzanne Jones is creator, writer and photographer at The Travelbunny. When she’s not indulging her wanderlust you’ll most likely find her enjoying coastal walks in her home county of East Sussex, UK.
Suzanne co-writes Sussex Bloggers which showcases the best of East & West Sussex.