The Taj Lake Palace is known for being the “most romantic hotel in the world”. I can’t possibly agree more.
It is perhaps the most beautiful hotel I’ve ever been to – a vision in white marble, floating on the waters of Lake Pichola. Certainly it boasts the most beautiful and evocative location.
From everywhere in the Palace, there is a sweeping, cinematic view of the city and the lake. And to the northeast, the burnished gold facade of the city palace…
It was hard to tear myself away from the palace, and though I did occasionally emerge to take in the sights of the city and to explore the lake on a speedboat, I have to admit I spent the bulk of my time in those endless white courtyards and corridors .
First built in the mid 1700s as a pleasure palace by the Maharana Jagat Singh II, it fell into disrepair by the end of the 1800s.
In the 1960s, the ruling Maharana Bhagwant Singh decided to convert the palace into the city’s first luxury hotel. The property was handed over to the Taj Hotels and Resorts Group, and it remains under the management of the Group today.
Its primary claim to international fame remains the James Bond film Octopussy in 1983, part of which was shot on location in the palace.
I’m too young to have ever known that movie, however. The one movie I know and remember well – a more recent work of art – is the exquisite, surreal and completely under-rated Tarsem Singh-helmed The Fall, part of which was also shot on location here.
And so it was with that scene of the lovers (re-)playing itself in my head that I wandered the grounds of the palace, looking out to the city with a sense of longing and a slight pang of loneliness in this most beautiful (but just then… infinitely desolate) of locations.
Perhaps seven years of Grand-Touring on my own has finally begun to take its toll.