Here’s some of what the Lonely Planet – India chapter Rajasthan has to say about Umaid Bhawan Palace and Museum:
“Take an autorickshaw to this hilltop palace, 3km southeast of the old city. The royal incumbent, Gaj Singh II, still lives in part of the building.
Built in 1929, the 365-room edifice was designed by the British architect Henry Lanchester for Maharaja Umaid Singh. It took more than 3,000 workers 15 years to complete, at a cost of around 11 million rupees.
The building is mortarless, and incorporates one hundred wagon loads of Makrana marble and Burmese teak in the interior. Apparently, its construction began as a royal job-creation program during a time of severe drought. Much of the building has been turned into a suitably grand hotel.
Casual visitors are not welcome at either the royal residence or the hotel, but you can visit the museum, housed in one side of the building. It includes photos showing the elegant art-deco design of the palace interior, plus an eccentric collection of elaborate clocks. Don’t miss the maharaja’s highly polished classic cars, displayed in front of the museum, by the entrance gate.”
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
One of the issues I face, whether or not I’m at home or travelling, is dealing with possible migraine headaches when I try foods or drinks that I haven’t prepared myself. I never know when I’ll be blindsided and have to spend the better part of a day in bed, with the curtains closed and as little sound around me as possible. I’d been fairly lucky on this trip, because we’d been travelling for six weeks and this was only the second time I’d lost a day of adventures with friends and family.
Fortunately, both times the headaches arrived when I could spare a day and our plans weren’t terribly affected. The first time it happened was on our last day at the beach at Mandvi, Gujarat. We’d seen everything we wanted to see in the area, and had planned on a long walk on the beach, perhaps some mini-golf on their so-so little course and perhaps another swim in the lovely pool.
This time, in Jodhpur, we might have ventured into the crowded city centre, but there was really nothing particular to see, and the McColls could certainly explore similar street markets in Udaipur and Jaipur if we didn’t do that here. I had thought we might visit the little museum at the Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel, just to say we’d been there, and get somewhat of a sense of the place, even if we weren’t able to see much more than that.
Donna, Duncan and Anil decided they would go anyway, seeing that they could get there easily using Uber each way. In the end, they said I didn’t miss much, but I was glad they weren’t stuck hanging out at the hotel because of me.
In the evening, we ventured up to the rooftop of the Radisson for a meal. I wasn’t in great shape but it was good to get out of the room for some fresh air. Besides, this was our last meal together because we would be going our separate ways the following morning. Donna and Duncan were leaving by road for Udaipur right after lunch, and we were booked to fly to Delhi in the early evening.
We would be staying there for one night and then heading home early because of the threat of the COVID-19 virus looming over us. Anil had really been suffering from the pollution in Delhi and Ahmedabad, and after finding his breathing improved dramatically while at the beach, with the fresh ocean breezes, we’d decided we didn’t want to tax our senior citizen’s bodies any longer. The virus seemed to be attacking people over the age of sixty in the greatest numbers, so clearly, the safest place for us to be, was home.
Donna and Duncan are a decade younger than us, and we encouraged them to carry on with the plans we’d put in place, for a several-night stay in Udaipur (my favourite Rajasthani city) and then a five-night stay in Jaipur. We were able to get out of our reservation in Udaipur with a mournful plea to the owner, but had to pay for the first night at the luxury-tent accommodation we’d booked outside of Jaipur.
In the end, when the McColls heard that a group of Italians who were visiting Jaipur had presented with a case of suspected COVID-19, they cancelled their plans as well and returned home to Canada four days after us. It was a good decision, Jaipur won’t change much in the coming years, and they are young enough to wait until international travel is safe once again.