Heritage Stay: Hitting the High Notes in Jaipur
I have always been fascinated by the tales of Rajasthan’s maharajas and their opulent lifestyles. I have also always nursed a secret desire to experience that life, even if for a while. Luckily, a recent three-day stay at JW Marriott Jaipur Resort and Spa ticked both these boxes.
On a pleasant September morning, a 4.5-hour drive from Delhi takes me and my two daughters to the resort, which lies in the town of Kukas, on Jaipur’s outskirts. Spread over 12 acres, its soaring, curved lines are a study in white—the facade is new but evokes traditional Rajasthani architecture, and its chhatris glint from afar, carving the skyline. We enter a glistening lobby, where the dome and some walls are adorned with exquisite gold and silver thikri (mirror inlay) work. A chandelier shimmers above a small fountain set amid marble inlay. Even the wooden maharaja chairs in the lobby flaunt mother-of-pearl inlay work. A heady scent of neroli wafts in the air, and flautists serenade visitors walking in through the doors. The space looks right out of a glossy coffee-table book, and it isn’t hard to imagine a modern-day maharaja living here.
Beyond the lobby, we cross a beautiful marble courtyard surrounded by arches, and a lounge with paintings of Hawa Mahal and Amer Fort. In a small garden by a pool stands a private ride to our villa—a tony red buggy. The scale of the property dawns upon me as we drive through the resort’s meandering pathways, along the spa, gym, and several gardens with palm and frangipani. Every nook, room, and suite is an ode to Rajasthan’s royal heritage. Clusters of two-storeyed villas have a courtyard at the centre, and face either the main building or the hill at the back.
It is the attention to detail that draws me in: wall panels on villas are painted with peacocks in iridescent blues; small but stately fountains that run along the walkway; lamps in peacock colours. To me the space feels like a sanctuary made with a lot of love, not just another soulless property. Meanwhile, in my own villa’s courtyard, a plunge pool and a sunbed await me. Inside, a comfy bed, chic cut-glass lamps, a spacious walk-in closet and a powder room take care of every creature comfort I could want. The sliding doors in the room open into the courtyard, letting the light and luxury in.
Time passes languidly in places where you have no deadlines to meet or chores to complete. My daughters and I have a swim, soak in the goodness on the sunbed, and try the Nespresso machine; yet the day is far from over. I wonder what I could do next when I get an invite for the high tea.
Beside the resort’s boundary wall facing the hill is a lawn called Kukas ki Chaupar, where guests and conversations mingle over cups of adrak chai and pakoras. Some people laze on the soft grass, some sip tea, and some, like me, watch dusk unfold in all its glory—shades of mauve, pink, orange juxtaposed against the pristine domes, with strains of live music and laughter of the guests echoing in the background.
Live music is an intrinsic part of the resort, especially during meals. Old Hindi classics at high tea, retro numbers during the Sunday brunch at Sukh Mahal, flute to the tune of “Havana” at breakfast—all are intertwined in the everyday life activities of the resort. Music is also one of the highlights of Mohan Mahal, where a young man plays santoor every evening.
“Made with over three-and-a-half lakh pieces of mirrors, Mohan Mahal is the pride of our property,” says Parul Jaiswal, the young stewardess, as I look at the candle-lit restaurant in awe. “It is a tribute to not only Jaipur’s Sheesh Mahal, but also to the love of Raja Man Singh for his queen,” she adds as I take my seat for dinner. Over a lush six-course meal served in silverware, I relish Khad Khargosh (game rabbit marinated in ginger, garlic and spices, wrapped in a leaf and cooked in a pit), and sample Papad and Mangodi ke Kabab, in which moong dal dumplings are fried, coated with papad, and shallow fried. Satiated, I sit in the glimmering glass palace, listening to the music of the fountain, and the santoor. I can now imagine how the life of a royal would have been; and am only too happy that I have some more time to left to enjoy it while it lasts.