>  Explore   >  On the road again… Dungarpur & Udaipur … 5 nights and 6 days 

The long lockdown was into its 6th  month and my  60th was fast approaching in the midst of the pandemic and with restrictions in play for large gatherings I was reminded of Willie Nelson’s epic song “On the road again” when the family & I decided to drive from Gurgaon to Dungarpur,  a picturesque town set amongst the rolling Aravalli mountains with a population of 50000. The town has recently been named as the cleanest city in Rajasthan but apart from feeling the sense of freedom the thought of renewing contact with a college friend, Maharaj Kumar Harshvardhan Singh a scion of the Royal house of Dungarpur who apart from being a Member of India’s parliament also owns and runs the elegant and charming Udaibilas Palace Hotel with a location tad lower than Udaipur’s Taj Lake palace but nevertheless an exotic locale with panoramic views of the Gobisagar lake.

Our 12 hour journey from Gurgaon was a break from “captivity” and one soon discovers that India’s “slow ways” seem to have room only for trucks panting at 30 kms /18 miles an hour hogging the space on all 3 lanes and then there are those holy cows who have managed to get their own parking slots on NH 48 and the occasional tractor and two wheelers who come for you in the opposite direction. The long drive and effort was truly worth it as we checked into the Udaibilas Palace where a warm welcome awaited us and we soon got engaged admiring the spaciousness of the Palace,  its 20th century Art Deco style furnishings in the rooms and suites, the elegant Africa & India rooms with hunting trophies and crystal chandeliers.

In all my years of travel I have yet to come across a bar as dramatic as  “The Dungarpur Mews” with an awesome collection of vintage cars, mini trucks and bikes, a hydraulic lift to elevate those in “High spirits” into another world  while the hot numbers of the 50s and 60s and those belted by the Beatles and Elvis Presley enhances the mood and pushes even the most reluctant guest to shake a leg on the dance floor. The sit down Dinner at the exquisite & extravagant marble inlay table, with an illuminated pool in the centre filled with rose petals and for a brief moment we diners felt Royal in every given sense.

Our second day was spent exploring the 700 year old Juna Mahal palace whose restoration was funded by the World Monuments Fund and has an amazing collection of wall ceiling paintings and glass work of a bygone era while exploring the ramparts of the fortress allows for wonderful photographs of Dungarpur town and the surrounding countryside. Lunch was set up on the palace grounds by the lake and a couple of bloody Mary’s and local Rajasthani cuisine was enough to satisfy our thirst and hunger pangs while a short afternoon nap followed by a dip in the infinity pool was enough exercise to build an appetite for the evening’s festivities with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails in the enchanting Africa room followed by dinner served in the India room under the watchful eyes of 100+ trophies of endangered species including stags and tiger heads collected at the height of colonial rule when India’s Maharajahs indulged in hunting as a pastime and the sport was permitted in parts of Africa and India in areas identified for culling.

Udaibilas palace reminds you of the song “Hotel California” where you  can check in but never leave. On day 3 we said a sad farewell to our gracious hosts Yuvraj Harshvardhan Singh and Yuvrani Priya Singh and headed for Udaipur and checked in to the Leela Palace run by the suave GM Vikramaditya Singh. The views of the Royal suite allocated to us were stunning and we decided to ring in my 60th in the suite’s spacious living and Dining rooms. On my birthday we decided to enjoy Dinner at the historical Taj Lake Palace and the hotel’s stylish GM Mohan Chandran, a friend for many years organised a sit down dinner on the Mewar Terrace overlooking the beautifully lit City palace. It will always be a night to remember…

Our return journey home sometimes through blinding rain was stressful hence we decided to break journey, have dinner and spend the night at the Trident, Jaipur. The home stretch ride to Gurgaon on Day 5 was smooth and quick while John Denver’s “Back home again”  song played on the car’s music system. I am sure in a couple of weeks the lure for travel will get us to sing another of John Denver’s hit songs “My bags are packed and am ready to go… Leaving on a Jet plane   … which will take us on to our next adventure.

Getting there- Gurgaon to Dungarpur – 700 kms/416 miles- 10 -11 hours.

Closest airports– Udaipur and Ahmedabad- 2.5 hours and 3 hours

Duration of stay– Udaibilas Palace- ideally 2 nights

Best time to visit– October to March

Signature dishes


Smoked paneer, Kurkuri Bhindi and Aloo salang

Non Veg

Lamb/chicken Dumpukh

Smoked Khima and Mutton Kurma


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