Bal Samand Lake Palace, Jodhpur: Affordable luxury in magical Rajasthan
AN erstwhile summer residence transformed into a sprawling heritage property overlooking the peaceful Bal Samand Lake; staying at the Bal Samand Lake Palace is a great option to live in luxury at a reasonable price.
What makes it special?
Carrying the weight of worth of centuries of historic events, the magnificent red sandstone palace speaks of the untold stories of Maharajas and warriors associated with the city of Jodhpur. The painstakingly carved structure is replete with imposing pillars, ornate arches, marbled stairways, and archaic jharokas. Period furniture, old gramophones and vertical fans belonging to a forgotten era make for an intriguing tour of the property. The 300 acre plot also houses manicured gardens with swing sets and prancing peacocks, a white marble cascading waterfall, and a swimming pool surrounded by a primitive-style wall.
What to expect?
A stay at a hotel that offers the services and ambiance of a five-star, but rates that are surprisingly affordable. Being an old palace retreat, its maintenance isn’t up to the mark; but the hospitality standards are high, and the staff courteous and helpful. A variety of birds can be found chirping in the garden. And if you’re lucky, you may even spot a chameleon.
Marginally far from the city center can sometimes prove to be a disadvantage. Although, the facilities provided are fairly sufficient, such as laundry services with dry cleaning, a safe-deposit box at front desk, currency exchange and complimentary newspapers. But the biggest drawback is the internet access that is only available at reception. The rooms don’t have WiFi connectivity either. The food is okay, though it could be much better.
What is there to do?
Outdoor excursions will take you on a tour of Jodhpur’s most famous historic structures like the towering Mehrangarh Fort, the shimmering white marbled cenotaph Jaswant Thada, the ruins of Bramanical and Jain temples at Osian, or Mandore Gardens that house a series of temples, memorials and high rock terraces. While for those who want to stay indoors, perhaps a game of golf or croquet will prove to be of interest. Alternatively, you can choose from, horse riding, jogging by the gardens, swimming, an Ayurvedic spa treatment, or a day at the fitness center. Cultural programs, with a gamut of folk singers and dancers, are a common tourist attraction at the hotel. As are romantic themed dinners by the lake.
What’s the damage?
At Rs. 6,500-Rs. 17,000 (US$120-310) it offers good value for money for a heritage hotel in Jodhpur. If you’re visiting for the ‘royal’ experience, then stay in suites; even though the garden rooms are a cheaper option. They are drastically spacious compared to the garden rooms, come with more relics of the past and better amenities (like the Jacuzzi).