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Oberoi Udaivilas Hotel: Exoticism in India

Text: Juan Pedro Chuet-Missé. Photos: Oberi Hotels & Resorts

In western India, in Rajasthan, an old palace has been restored to become the Oberoi Udaivilas Hotel, one of the most luxurious and exclusive in the world. Staying and relaxing in one of its rooms means taking a trip back to the golden years of the Mewar Kingdom, home to one of the longest living dynasties in the world.

Located in the northwest of the subcontinent known as India is the state of Rajasthan. A place for millenary stories, where the difference between legends and truths fade, and arid weather that turns into violent monsoons during the rainy season.

In this state is Udaipur, known as the “Venice of the east”, or, though less poetic, the “City of Lakes”. A very descriptive name, since seven lakes surround this place, and it is on the banks of the largest one, Lake Picholae, where the magnificent Oberoi Udaivilas Hotel is located. Some specialised media have described it as the best hotel in Asia, and some others have been more direct naming it the best in the world. And they don’t lack motifs.

The Oberoi Udaivilas Hotel was the former palace set in the Mewar’s Maharana hunting grounds, that later underwent reforms and is now presented as a luxury resort. With its cream coloured pavilions, domes and vantage points, it is reminiscent of the palaces in Rajasthan, from those golden years of the Mewar Kingdom. This kingdom’s Rajput dynasty is the second oldest dynasty in the world, with 76 generations having ruled, more than 500 years ago, the government of the local kingdom.

It is like stepping back in time into an exclusive and exotic location. It is no wonder that various movies have been filmed here, including Octopussy, where Roger Moore stepped into James Bond’s shoes.

The most luxurious pavilions, covered in white marble, with lush gardens and fountains of all sizes can be found here. Its 87 rooms are semi open, and the views to Lake Pichola offer guests an extra quota of relaxation.

From among all the rooms, the biggest and most splendid is the Kohinoor Suite, made up of almost 250 m2, decorated with the finest tapestries, and with views to the Aravalli Mountains and the City Palace. It also has a private swimming pool and private butler service.

The Oberoi Udaivilas hotel boasts three restaurants: the Suryamahal restaurant offers international cuisine, Udaimahal is specialised in food from across India, and Chandni, which is focused on traditional dishes from Rajasthani and from northern India. On the open-air platform it is common to find music acts with typical melodies, to immerse travellers into Indian culture.

The city of Udaipur displays all the exoticism that can be found in these regions of India. Everything here is opulent and immense, like the City Palace, built in 1567 on the banks of the Pichola Lake, although in reality it is made up of four big palaces and a few minor ones, that join to form a single architectonic group. The excess from past golden ages is also noticeable in the impressive Crystal Gallery in the Fateh Prakash Hotel and its huge chandeliers, crystal furniture pieces and candelabra in a Victorian style.

And the great variety of temples from the surrounding area cannot be neglected, like Jagdish, built in 1651 to honour Lord Vishnu and characterised by its 24 metre high pagoda, overflowing with sculptures of dancers, elephants and horsemen. And to end this trip full of surprises it is worth paying a visit to the Sajjan Garh (or Monsoon Palace), a palace in immaculate white built in the 18th century where visitors can enjoy a sunset overlooking the lake and the city of Udaipu.