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India's floating palace

The Property Addict / Travel

May 31 2017

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Like a floating marble mirage in the centre of Udaipur's Lake Pichola in northern India, the Taj Lake Palace will have you feeling like a maharaja from the moment your speedboat arrives on its shores. No surprise, really, since before being converted into a hotel in 1963 it was a pleasure palace for the erstwhile rulers of Udaipur, dating back to 1743. You'll be welcomed to this majestic palace by a cascade of rose petals and a slew of mustachioed and turbaned gentlemen. No matter which of the 66 rooms or 17 suites they escort you to, you'll have a view of the lake and the hills its fringed by. Surrounded by opulent dà ©cor - including colourful frescoes, intricate glass mosaics and rich silk upholstery - you'll immediately understand why this palace was chosen as the location of the Bond film Octopussy, and as a holiday destination by the likes of Queen Elizabeth, Jackie Kennedy and Nicole Kidman.   taj-lake5 taj-lake4 taj-lake1 You could spend an entire afternoon sitting in the bathtub sipping Bollinger and gazing out over the lake. But then you'd be missing the pool pavilion, with its mirror-mosaic walls, deck chairs nestled beneath the mango trees, and courteous attentions of the pool boys offering cool face towels and cucumber slices for your eyes. Not to mention the Jiva Spa boat, moored off the hotel's jetty, where guests can indulge in body scrubs, wraps and massages. However you while away your afternoon, once the sun starts setting you should head to the Jhankar courtyard for a masala chai martini as you watch Rajasthani musicians and dancers perform. Afterwards, you'll feast on wood-fired Rajasthani specialties like the spicy tender lamb laal maas at the Neel Kamal restaurant.   taj-lake3 taj-lake2 taj-lake10 As painful as it will be to tear yourself away from this fairytale palace, you should try. Boat over to Jag Mandir, an erstwhile summer resort for royals in yellow sandstone and marble at the far end of the lake. Or, hire one of the palace's chauffeur-driven vintage cars for an excursion, perhaps to the opulent 16th century City Palace, to explore the temples dotted around town, or out into the surrounding countryside. Rooms from AUD$400 a night. See taj.tajhotels.com/en. How to Get There: Cathay Pacific flies from Sydney and Melbourne to Delhi via Hong Kong from about $970 return. From Delhi, it's a 70-minute flight with a local carrier to Udaipur. See cathaypacific.com.   taj-lake9 taj-lake8 taj-lake7 taj-lake6 by Nina Karnikowski Save

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