A couple of years ago I enjoyed a memorably resplendent afternoon at the Rambagh Palace. I’d vowed to revisit before long and so, upon recently finding myself unexpectedly in Jaipur for just the one evening, I knew instantly where mother and I would be heading straight from the airport. You see, if there’s the one thing I truly pride myself on, it’s staying true to my word…
Once the residence of the Maharaja of of Jaipur, the pinch-me-setting is now a luxury hotel run by the Taj Group, radiating that certain Tajness from every polished corner….
The warm and welcoming feeling characteristic of all Taj hotels is reflected in the cosy grandeur of the sprawling property. Fashioned in the Indo-Saracenic style of the early 20th Century, the striking architecture marries Indian, Islamic and even Gothic inspirations seamlessly with the Victorian-British school of design.
The immaculate lawns would undoubtedly have been my first choice for where to sit and take our tea, but the dry heat typical of Jaipur in June rendered it impossible that afternoon. So instead, we cooled our heels inside, ensconced within the plush interiors paying tribute to the old world charm and heritage of a bygone era…
Our afternoon tea was suitably decadent too – regally laden across solid silver tiers, it arrived ceremoniously presented by Ram Singh, an old guard who’s been with the Palace for over three decades!
We’d opted for both the Victorian Splendour – a traditional English spread – and the Maharaja’s Sojourn, offering an Indian twist to this favourite British pastime…
Warm-from-the-oven scones were the scrummiest way to start, slathered with fresh clotted cream and homemade preserves. The delectably tart flavours (raspberry, orange and kiwi) has us immediately hankering for a bottle of each to take home with us!
There were traditional tea-time sandwiches too (featuring bagels and a darkly-dense pumpernickel bread), and pretty-as-a-picture pastries spanning from macarons and mini-cupcakes, to a zesty tarte au citron and custard tartlet embellished with fresh fruits.
As for the Indian selection, we tucked into paneer kathi rolls and bhajiyas – devilishly deep-fried vegetable fritters, along with other traditional savouries that represent the stuff of soul food. A mini tart delicately festooned with with finely-sliced gulab jamun and soft and creamy rasmalai (generously suffused with saffron) lent their rich sweetness to the proceedings too!
Drawn into a sumptuous lull, we lazily ambled into the airy verandah after.
Rambagh’s signature martinis were definitely in order on that unhurried evening, shaken in a rather stately fashion before us, as we nibbled on roasted millet (a super-grain grown locally in the State of Rajasthan).
We had some guests unexpectedly join our party too…
Dusk was falling by the time we finally made our way out.
We were staying the night at my aunt’s farmhouse on the outskirts of the city, having planned to drive out early the next morning into the interiors of the State to visit the Rani Sati Dadi Mandir (while that’s a story to save for another day, do have a peek at the stunning pictures here, in the meanwhile).
As always, I made sure to have plenty of reason for another sojourn at this bastion of timeless charm though, having had a glimpse of Steam – a rustic restaurant housed within what used to be a functioning train between 1915 and 1995. There’s also the pending matter of experiencing Taj’ fine hospitality over a longer (overnight) sojourn…
To be continued.
I was a guest of the Rambagh Palace, but as always all opinions are mine and mine alone.
Rambagh Palace, Bhawani Singh Rd, Rambagh, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302005