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Taj’s Palatial Properties

Susan Kime

TAJ LAKE PALACE, UDAIPUR
Set in the center of Lake Pichola in the desert state of Rajasthan, the Taj Lake Palace is like no other hotel in the world. Marigold-laden vessels take guests to and from the hotel, which consists of 83 guest rooms and suites. Activities include sailing in the Gangaur, a replica of the Singh family’s royal barge; tours of the Jagmandir Palace and City Palace; and day-trip safaris into the Aravalli mountains. ($605–$4,000)

RAMBAGH PALACE, JAIPUR
Taj’s Rambagh Palace sits outside the fortified walls of Jaipur, the capital and Pink City (named for its pink sandstone structures) of Rajasthan. In addition to 85 guest rooms and suites, the hotel has an indoor/outdoor pool, a fitness center, squash courts, and an 18-hole golf course and polo grounds nearby. Each guest is assigned a butler who will arrange everything from dinner reservations in the city to safaris in the Rajasthani desert. The hotel’s new spa is slated to open before the end of 2006. ($435–$4,000)

USHA KIRAN PALACE, GWALIOR
With only 40 rooms and suites—including two royal suites on the roof—Usha Kiran Palace is a maharaja’s version of a boutique hotel. The 120-year-old property, located 200 miles south of New Delhi in the town of Gwalior, features lawn tennis courts and an outdoor pool, but its spa is the main attraction. The facility offers a unique selection of ayurvedic therapies, and the Usha Kiran claims that its Mangal Snan is the only treatment in which Indian musicians serenade guests (from behind a filigree screen) while they are being massaged. ($250–$650)

TAJ UMAID BHAWAN PALACE, JODHPUR
On a hill overlooking the Blue City of Jodhpur, the 215,000-square-foot Umaid Bhawan contains only 64 rooms and suites, several of which, not surprisingly, are palatial in size. The resort’s facilities include marble squash courts, a subterranean pool (with multicolored tiles in the shape of the zodiac), and a new spa. Guests can dine by torch- and candlelight at the hotel’s white marble pavilion, or enjoy private meals at the nearby Mehrangarh Fort, a 15th-century citadel. The resort’s staff also will arrange visits to Jodhpur’s bustling Sardar Market, a state-certified opium measurement facility, and the primitive villages of the nomadic Bishnoi tribe. ($435–$4,000)

Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces
www.tajhotels.com

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