AGRA & JAIPUR, India, March 25 – 28 – In Residence: The Rambagh Palace, Jaipur, India
High style living Raj style … our Lakani Maharajas & Maharanis group amid this palatial lavish opulence of fabulousness. A palace hotel of OTT (over the top!) proportion and extraordinary living. Serenely set amid almost 50 acres of superb gardens, green grass lawns, fountains, woods, calling peacocks abound … our sprawling palace impresses us. Here amid our sumptuous surroundings, the city chaos is a far away thought. These palace interiors are breathtaking, expansive, quiet, cool, and rather exquisite. “We have arrived!” as they say … very much arrived and happy to be here living here as Rambagh ‘royals’ amid jostling Jaipur.
Our ‘home away from home’ silver “sky bird” made our travels from Cambodia extremely efficient and seamless. A planned 4-hour ground stop in Agra to see another of India’s “must see” world monuments, the famous Taj Mahal, was made on our way to Jaipur. This is more of the “magic” of private jet travel … an afternoon ‘pop in’ when required to see something really special! And so we enjoyed our special visit to perhaps the single most important sight a visitor to India can see. The Taj Mahal is a most elegant large structure, built of white marble with exquisite inlay of various semi-precious stone. A wondrous sight to behold. Emperor Shah Jehan immortalizing his third wife, Mumtaz, who died at 38 in childbirth of their 14th child. Back in the 16th Century, the entire monument took over 20,000 laborers working for 22 years to complete. This man made wonder of our world … well worth the “pop in”. Those in the group who had already seen the magnificent Taj were able to visit the nearby greatly impressive Red Fort of Agra.
At the Rambagh Palace, our guests enjoy lavish suites, fine dining rooms, the historic Polo Bar, gorgeous spa with two large lap swimming pools (one indoor, one outdoor) and gorgeous grounds for strolling. Historic photos of the famous “who’s who” that have stayed … like British Royal family and American ‘aristocracy’ Jacquie Kennedy.
As a lavish surprise, to our “royal group” in residence, Lakani hosted a Royal Extravaganza party for our group one evening. Joining together at sunset the men are invited to chose Raj turbans, the ladies long silk scarves. Below us on the main driveway in the sunset light a Royal procession of trumpeters and horn blowers and drummers loudly sound our arrival. Around us are towering ornate elephants (flapping ears and trunks), adorned camels with bells, elegant white horses with mounted Royal guards. Rather awed, we are led “royally” to our private dinner in the grounds of the palace. Such an ornate energetic spectacle like stepping into a grand scene of a Merchant Ivory movie. It’s a fantastically festive night with Indian dancers and a sumptuous supper feast. Our fun flight crew joins with us for this amazing event.
Our 2 full days in Jaipur – nicknamed the “Pink City” for its red rose colored stone buildings within the older inner walled city – are a sensory surround of everything India offers. Right outside our palace gates we are faced with great city hubbub, the crammed streets, the car horns blaring, the heat, the smells and all the unusual sights, the constant action unfolding, cows in the road, water buffaloes walking along, sometimes painted elephants and camels in the road, a million tuk tuks racing around, hawkers everywhere, food market stalls, clothing colors abound of saris and turbans … Festival craziness … sensory surround or sensory overload?!? This is all about incredible India! For most of us, we are mesmerized … this is so far from our world. We are amid a most energetic cultural connection … A cacophony of the senses.
We drive out to the nearby massive 18th Century hilltop Amber Fort, former capital city until replaced by sprawling Jaipur. We travel in 4×4 Toyotas to climb most way up the old cobbled road to the old fort gates. Our guides lead us up through the dozens of young selling hawkers, through the gates and into massive ornate courtyards, and further up into royal quarters and a labyrinth of passageways and rooms. A ruling Mogul king with many wives and concubines needs lots of space and private (secret) passageways. This fortress is impressive – a massive structure – the views spectacular, and the cool breezes enjoyed. An 8+ mile wall encircles three sides of this fortified place … a mountain range acts as the completion of this fortress wall.
Within the old walled city of Jaipur we visit the city palace complex … some of which is still used as the Royal family residence. The adjoining Palace of Winds (Hawa Mahal) whose facade is adorned with elaborate perforated marble screens behind which the ladies of the royal household could safely peek onto the courtyards and street life below … without being seen. Within the palace complex, we tour Jantar Mantar being the best preserved and largest solar observatory built by ‘ahead of his time’ astronomer Prince Jai Singh II. This observatory consists of precise huge stone structures built to measure local time, chart the astrological birth signs throughout the year, and even predict eclipses. In small groups, we visit the museums within the city palace … textiles and fabrics, weaponry, royal residence artifacts and ornate pieces … all excellent examples of Rajasthani and Mughal lifestyle and architecture. We even enjoy a private Rajastani luncheon on the large terrace of the Royal palace terrace … being led into the palace gardens by a royal procession. Here our guests are invited to ride around the palace lawns on elephant – high up on the ele-top “howdah” for 2, each elephant under the supervision of its Indian Mahout. Some guests add to the festive adornment painting of the elephants. We are invited to privately visit the vast living room of the palace.
Guests who had already visited Agra and Jaipur take the opportunity – arranged by Lakani – to visit the Ranthambore tiger reserve. Staying at the ‘Ritz Carlton’ tented camp of VanyaVillas. On their 4×4 game drives, they are blessed and most fortunate with seeing 7 tigers (incl growing cubs) during their time at Ranthambore. A truly WOW experience!
Incredible India is now a myriad of memories for us … our silver “sky bird” home quickly transports us on to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. A scrumptious lunch on board. More adventures as we head toward the ‘grand finale’ of our special private jet journey … but we certainly don’t need to even think about that. There’ s far too much fun & adventure still ahead of us in Dubai …
Check out our photos from the Taj Mahal, the Amber Fort, our elegant dinner party and elephant rides! Click any photo to enlarge.
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