A nine o’clock start was the order of the day as we had, what appeared on the face of it, a longish journey of 353 kilometres. However the roads in Rajasthan have improved over recent years and apart from one section which is being resurfaced they were excellent all day, meaning a mid afternoon arrival in Jodhpur for most of the crews.
Having stayed in the Surayagarh Hotel in Jaislamer, many thought it was the acme of Indian hotel cool but they were not prepared for the palace that greeted them on arrival in Jodhpur. The Umaid Bhawan is one of the most remarkable and luxurious traditional hotels in all India with a dome modelled on St Pauls in London. The sheer scale of the building, its impeccable staff and ambience is truly mind blowing.
It was built over a period of 14 years by the Maharajah of Jodhpur to help his subjects during a period of drought and famine. Started in 1929 and completed in 1943, employing up to 3000 local craftsmen feeding them and their families, thus saving the city from starvation and desolation. When competed it was the largest palace in India with 347 rooms in an Indo-Art Deco style. In 1971 the Maharajah Gaj Singh decide to divide the building between his residence, a museum and a hotel which takes up the majority of the building. In a tranquil setting a well manicured lawn, flowering Bougainvillea garden and pool, the grounds are equally magnificent.
With the individual parts each being exquisite the whole makes a sublime setting for a two night stay.