In the second of our profiles of Rajasthani Palace hotels, Indiaphile looks at Udai Bilas, Dungarpur, in the southernmost part of the state. Udai Bilas Palace dates from the mid-19th century, when Maharawal Udai Singhji-II, a great patron of art and architecture, built a sumptuous palace of bluish grey local stone “Pareva” overlooking the lake. Now a private hotel, its charm embodies the princely aesthetic of a bygone era. Its six ‘grand suites’ have their own large sitting and dressing rooms, with free standing Victorian baths and Art Deco furnishings. Ten further suites have expansive lake views, 1940’s wallpaper and original Lalique lamps.
The food is delicious at Udai Bilas Palace, predominantly Indian but with Western dishes on demand. Buffet breakfasts and dinners are served in the Zenana Chowk – an area partially open to the sky. If you’re feeling like a few laps after lunch, the swimming pool overlooks the lake, and there’s hard court tennis, a jacuzzi, and boating opportunities too.
Many come to Udai Bilas specially for bird watching. The cooler months from November to February are the best to see winter migratory birds and the monsoon season, from July to October, is the nesting season. One can see from the Palace itself: egrets, night and pond herons, white necked and painted storks, coots and resident ducks, depending on the season. Birds are also plentiful in the woodlands where one can hope to see the Grey Hornbill, Grey Partridge, Green Pigeon, Peafowl, Paradise fly-catcher and the Golden backed woodpecker, to name a few representative species.
Other local excursions include the 13th century palace the ‘Juna Mahal’, the important pilgrimage site Kesariya temple, and the Deo Somnath temple with it’s gigantic banyan tree.
Rooms at Udai Bilas Palace start from £75 per night. You can book all your Indian Travel tourism through Travel Intelligence here.
“Beside a lake encircled by the southern Araballi hills you’ll find a lavish Rajput residence: sculptured pillars, balconies and marble arches, rooms with stunning views, spacious bedrooms with Decoesque furnishings; and bathrooms dominated by freestanding tubs. One of the few places to blend ‘rural’ and ‘regal’ Rajasthan – you won’t want to leave.” Conde Nast Traveller