Giving an authentic, rustic yet luxurious experience, Devigarh in Udaipur took our breath away!
By: Aparupa Ray Ganguly, Independent Travel Writer
Posted on: April 25, 2014
Giving an authentic, rustic yet luxurious experience, Devigarh by Lebua in Udaipur took our breath away!
Bleary eyed from an early morning flight, I was still trying hard to keep awake. I landed at Udaipur and was greeted by an endearing face that called out for my name. The drive from the airport to Devigarh skirts the outer bounds of Udaipur city, unveiling a glimpse of the glistening landscape that wears an unabashedly rugged look. The semi-arid topography is briefly punctuated with thorny trees and bushes that complement the village homes. Fields in dusty hues of green and gold make for a spectacular sight against a powder blue sky that appears as a spotless canvas, merging into the horizon.
After a brief 30 minute drive through the countryside, we stop outside a massive, wooden door, embellished with brass knobs that read ‘Devigarh’. A narrow, windy road up the hill finally takes us to the resort. As I walk through the royal precincts of Devigarh by Lebua, soaking in the beauty of ornamental gardens and demure fountains, I am almost suddenly taken by surprise as I’m showered with fragrant rose petals from above. The sound of gurgling water and delicate notes of a flute melody come wafting in the air. I pause and take a moment to soak in the stellar beauty of this erstwhile palace. The lavish arches and the very sight of the palace evoke an involuntary gasp that leaves you speechless.
A Mewari palace that belonged to the Delwara kings in 1760, almost two centuries later Devigarh was acquired by a reputed industrialist family from the Shekhawati region, who restored the ruins to make Devigarh what it is today - a stunning all-suite luxury getaway with a fabulous L’Occitane Spa.
A steep flight of steps takes us up to our grand Palace Suite. The stark white interiors create an aura that is pure and untainted. The day-bed is carefully placed against a beautiful mural of a blooming pink lotus that adds to the serene yet luxurious ambience of the suite and tells you that the past was not modest in any way. The subtle usage of lapis lazuli, jasper and mother of pearl add ornamental touches that spell a subtle opulence befitting royalty. A private balcony looks over the village, cradled by the rolling Aravallis hills on all sides. The sight of an outdoor jacuzzi nestled in bougainvillea bushes and a swimming pool in black marble is the final sign off that tells you, you are in the right place!
I head for the Spa, feeling rather unapologetic about this occasional spoil. A petite, soft-spoken girl at the reception guides me through the spa menu effortlessly as I sign up for a Deep Tissue Intense Relief massage as well as a facial. A warm, deliciously comforting concoction made with basil, ginger and honey, followed by a brief foot ritual sets the mood for two hours of exclusive ‘me’ time! Gentle stretches combined with acupressure techniques and a bit of traditional Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage, lulls me into a deep slumber, as I slowly feel all the muscle tension ease away. The special Angelica Fountain of Glow facial nourished my parched skin, refreshing it with two organic angelic extracts - water and essential oil, leaving it re-plumped and hydrated. Feeling absolutely divine after all the pampering, I still know there is much more to explore at Devigarh.
What particularly intrigued me is the dining experience. On one hand, it can be quite a stately affair with authentic Rajasthani fare being served in pure silverware, where the service exudes a certain traditional, Rajasthani hospitality. The restaurant wears a naked look in white, much like the suites, all of which beautifully balances the mural on the wall that has been restored partially.
Quite contrary to this was a dinner that me and my husband had in the ‘hawa gokhda’, where the whole dining experience was robustly romantic. Sitting on fuchsia pink silk cushions on the floor, resting ourselves on large bolsters in a contrasting orange, being served on elegant, silver floor tables, made it perfect for romantic musings. A traditional Rajasthani style ‘thali’ was served with delicacies like ‘ker sangri saag’, ‘gatte ki sabzi’,‘lal maas’and ‘safed maas’, pampering our palates with what I’d call a truly ‘royal fare’. The highpoint of the evening was a sundowner at the Bar. As the crimson sun slowly ebbs away, the landscape wears a myriad of colours, beckoning you to stay on.
Dusk makes way for yet another lyrical, full moon night. Gleaming in a dull silver halo, the palace truly comes alive, and I think to myself, “Rajasthan, now I know why you have always mesmerized me!”
A seasoned hospitality communication professional, Aparupa has worked in the luxury and lifestyle space and has been associated with iconic luxury hotels like The Imperial New Delhi amongst others. She started her career in media as a news reader and a professional voice-over artist and then dabbled in the creative world of advertising before she got into hospitality. Travel, she says is the best way of finding oneself, of connecting with who we are. Travel gives us a sense of freedom and identity. It enriches us and inspires us to explore. It makes us alive. Eclectic and personalised, her frequent sojourns have spurned travelogues that are fresh and inspiring with a poetic narrative. Read her stories on www.aparuparay.com