Initially built as a fort in the 16th century, the Samode Palace was converted into an exquisitely designed palace in the early 19th century, in a fusion of Mughal and Rajasthani art and architecture, under the nobleman Rawal Berisal. It was further expanded by his descendant, Rawal Sheo Singh, during the mid 19th century, with the addition of the Darbar Hall with a gallery and the Sheesh Mahal, a hall constructed of extravagant mirror work. In 1987, the Samode Palace was converted to the present day Samode Palace Heritage Hotel.
Samode Haveli was also established by Rawal Sheo Singh during that time, as a resort for the imperial family, along with the Samode Bagh (garden) as the private garden retreat of the imperial family. Samode Bagh’s design and pattern was inspired by the Mughal gardens, which were a recreational retreat. A similar garden was built by the imperial family of Samode, 4 kilometres from their Samode Palace.
Samode Palace, Samode Haveli and Samode Bagh, Jaipur
The three heritage monuments- Samode Palace, Samode Haveli and Samode Bagh, along with the Samode village are situated in the city of Jaipur, Rajasthan, amidst the pristine Aravalli Range of north-western India. All three of them are now heritage hotels under the flagship name of "Samode" and are run by the hereditary owners. While the Samode Palace is distanced 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of the Jaipur city, the Samode Haveli is centrally located within city limits, 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) from the city railway station and the Samode Bagh is located 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) from the Samode Palace, also run as a luxury hotel.
The Samode Palace was established by the noblemen of the court of the imperial family, near the Samode village on the outskirts of the Shekhawati region. At the foot of the Aravalli Range, it is built of sandstone and the interiors crafted in the ancient architectural style of Rajasthan, encompassing marble floors, elaborately ornamented pillars, mosaic walls with inlaid small stones, luxurious carpets and old wall paintings such as hunting scenes and floral motifs. A distinct large-sized treasure chest made of dark wood with marble settings and gleaming glass is at the entrance of the palace. The Sheesh Mahal (Hall of Mirrors) is on the southern side of the palace. The frescoes in the Darbar Hall and in the Sultan Mahal are said to be 250 years old. The palace is erected in three levels planned in a sequence of courtyards increasing in height, with a patio on each level. There is an old ruined fortress above the palace, from where a panoramic view of the valley is seen. The fort area is overgrown with vegetation but a well laid stone paved path of 300 steps has been built to reach the fort elevation. The fort was the erstwhile residence of the Maharaja. It is said that an underground passage links it to the palace that provided access in emergency. There is also an entrance gate to the ruined fort. The Samode village near the palace is noted for its cloth made by block printing and also for handicrafts such as bangle making. A small artists' colony is in the village where miniature paintings are made.
The Samode Palace is a heritage resplendent hotel today that has hosted royalty, celebrities, artists, distinguished guests and travellers. It marvellously showcases traditional Indo-Saracenic architecture fused with contemporary luxury to the hilt, spellbinding every visitor. Many Hindi films have been captured in the settings of the Samode Palace. The 1984 American HBO TV series adaptation of the novel ‘The Far Pavilions’ was also filmed in the palace precincts.
The Samode Haveli is built facing to the north. It has an elegantly painted dining room, deluxe rooms and suites, and an airy passage. An elephant ramp, specially constructed at the entrance to the Haveli, was laid in 1940 on the occasion of the marriage ceremony of a member of the royal family. Like the Samode Palace, Samode Haveli exudes a unique ambience of history juxtaposed with contemporary settings, also showcasing quintessential Indo-Saracenic style. It is a regal residence with age old tradition of infallible hospitality.
Samode Bagh is a Mughal style garden enclosed by a 15 feet (4.6 metres) high wall and spread over an area of 20 acres (8.1 hectares). It also has 44 air-conditioned dune-coloured tents to accommodate visitors. It blends traditional Rajasthani and Mughal decor with the Victorian style and has contemporary facilities. It has a 200 feet (61 metres) long water channel and a row of fountains fed by springs and wells. The tent accommodations for the visitors are well-equipped with all the contemporary conveniences. They are attractively furnished with carpets, standing lamps, well-designed beds and chairs, plush en-suite marble bathrooms and their walls too showcase elegant paintings of the Mughal art. There is also a 150 year old pavilion within the garden’s precincts.
Apart from guest accommodation, the spectacular Samode Palace and Samode Bagh are open for a tour to visitors at reasonable rates.
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