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Samode

Samode is an enchantingly traditional rural village tucked into the Aravalli Hills, around 40 kilometres north of Jaipur (a one-hour drive). It is famous for its superb 18th century palace, which was converted from a 16th century fort by the Rawal of Samode, Rawal Berisal. He transformed it into an Indo-Saracenic architectural marvel and decorated it with some of the finest frescoes and mirror-work in Rajasthan, most notably in the magnificent Durbar Hall and Sheesh Mahal (Hall of Mirrors).

Now a luxury hotel rising above Samode's cobbled streets and stone houses like a mirage, Samode Palace is arguably the best heritage hotel of its type in India. Over the years the hotel has been lovingly renovated by the Rawal’s descendants and it is still owned and managed by the same royal family.

Samode itself is a centre for traditional crafts like block printing and bangle making. Perfect for gentle strolls through the atmospheric village, you can step out of the gates of the Palace and walk through these cobbled lanes stopping at a variety of shops and artisan’s workshop, such as cloth merchants, gemstone experts and miniature painting studios. On village walks you can also admire Samode’s havelis, chattries and ancient water wells. 

Other activities include a visit to the Mughal gardens at the tented camp retreat of Samode Bagh, four kilometres away, which was the maharaja's ruined former residence – a hilltop fort with very impressive views, great food and a swimming pool.

Nature lovers can go on birdwatching walks or for the more adventurous, special horse and camel safaris through the desert sand dunes can be arranged, as well as hot-air balloon rides. Jaipur’s famous monkey temple, Hanuman Temple, is an hour and half drive away.

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Bill Bryson

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