Is it a royal haveli? Is this an exclusive male galloping home? Or is this the best design hotel in India? The answer to the last question is clear "yes". As for the first two questions, Narendra Bhawan is a little bit both. Read about your royal residence at Narendra Bhawan, Bikaner.
Narendra Singh, the last ruling Maharaj of Bikaner, was born only a year before India gained independence. He led a glamorous life suitable for the nobility, with frequent trips abroad, where the Broadway shows, theater and museums by rigueur. He gained curiosities and animals with the same experience – he had over 100 pedigrees (the hotel is also pet friendly). Narendra Bhawan was his town house and lived here (rather than in the Royal Palace) until 2003. Nowadays it is a luxurious boutique hotel.
Narendra Bhawan is not your usual Rajasthani hotel haveli. The owners of the MRS Group built a three-storey stone building on the original town house jaali facades in line with the original architecture haveli.
The wide terrace features Portuguese tiles, comfortable loungers and full art crates. It's something Diwan-e-aam if you want where Maharaj could take people.
Electric red children's piano sandwriting with Edith Piaf's lyricsNo, it's not unfortunate"It's the center of the inner porch and you can almost imagine that Maharaja sits here and plays his favorite songs.
Eclectic designs are available everywhere, such as Bombay Art Deco and Bikaner terrazzo floors. I especially loved a bench upholstered in a plush velvet Prussian blue limb leg.
The name of the restaurant – Pearls & Chiffon – pays tribute to the old sartorial style. Its atmosphere is a mixture of Indian royal and Victorian decorations with floral wallpaper, rich fabrics and gold hanging lamps. Mad Hatter has its own patisserie and café. It gives inspiration from "Alice in Wonderland" with its moody dishes with poodles and thematic creations.
Diwali Chowk now has the terraces of the former haveli. This outdoor courtyard with arched trees and varied seating is perfect for a cup of coffee or lounging with a book.
Oh, and do not miss the hotel's rooftop pool overlooking the old town of Bikaner.
Room categories are governed by the evolution of the Maharaj from the young prince to the military man to the statesman. Residential rooms have a distinctly English color palette, while indigo (the symbolic color of India) is governed by India's rooms.
We lived in one of Republic Suites, a thoroughly modern space in steel blues and concrete shades.
This "architectural room" gives Le Corbusier a touch of decoration elements inspired by scaffolding. The sharpened Nataraj pencils on the desk were a nice touch.
Our stay in Narendra Bhawan was full of many unforgettable meals, like the Halwai breakfast we had in the morning. It was a real feast of kachori, poori and methi ki sabzi (eventually the bitterly sweet troughs of cabbage), eventually ending with cold lasses and syrups of jalebi. Another important topic was a literary lunch with dishes inspired by food creations in books that were different from each other, such as Bell Jar and Ulysses.
One afternoon, we drove to the Laxmi Nivas Palace for a museum lunch in our golden room where intricate decorations used a huge 45 kg of gold. The food was inspired by the 1927 royal banquet, which is located in the Lallgarh Palace in the Sadul's Museum.
It's hard to choose our best food, but it's probably our last dinner. Last night in Bikaner, we drove out of town for about 45 minutes to reach a small lake. Darbari Lake was a popular hunting ground for Maharajas from Bikaner. The lake was built with snow-white shamana with comfortable sofa beds and mattresses.
When the sun shone, lamps and candles lit all around us. In a constant thundering fire they left us pampering (we visited him in January) as we chased shikar food – quail, rabbit, goat and others – to melodic notes of lonely flautist.
We spent our days exploring Bikaner with Narendra Bhawan's gatekeeper Ram Saran.
The "Merchant Survey" led us to an intricately carved red sandstone havelis from Bikaner, dating back to the 1920s and 1930s. Even today, it is a testimony to the wealth and grandeur of merchants who came to the city at the invitation of Maharaja Ganga Singh (great grandfather Narendra Singh).
On the "Royal Exploration" route, the following day, we looked at Bikaji ki Tekdi. Rao Bika built this fortress in 1486 when he came from Jodhpur to form his own kingdom.
The fortress contains the marble cenotaph of the king.
We continued along the royal road to the Junagarh Fortress, remarkably well preserved and maintainedthcentury fortress. It is the only stronghold in Rajasthan. Its red sandstone beautifully contrasts with the Italian marble courtyards.
In the evening, we are trapped in Bokaner's chaotic shopping streets, choc-a-block with colored silk, spices and home-made products.
I also loved sampling spicy ker-sangri cucumbers (local capers and beans) and famous Bikaneri bhujia (spicy gram flour seam).
I hope this post inspired you to book a trip to Bikaner. You can fly directly from Delhi to Bikaner on Air India, alternatively, check out Jodhpur or Jaipur and then go to Bikaner.
Stay in Narendra Bhawan to get a real royal experience with Bikaner. Look at theirs Website for the latest deals.
This article was commissioned by National Geographic Traveler and was published in their March 2018 release. Read it here.
Post A Regal Stay in Narendra Bhawan Bikaner first appeared on Deliciously Directionless.