Millennium Post

Luxury, the Lakshmivilas Way

Curated with colonial luxuries, a destination wedding weekend in Lakshmivilas, Udaipur, is the perfect occasion to rekindle relaions and rejuvenate spirits.

An invite from my former student, Daksh Gaur, to his marriage in Udaipur, and that too with another former student, Aditi Khandelwal, in the luxurious Lalit Lakshmivilas Palace, convinced my resolve to attend it for reasons more than one. Both the partners are dear, the city is that of lakes, it will be my second visit only, a towering corporate personality from Africa I was told, shall also visit the upcoming IIM Udaipur, and, alongside, was this immense desire to witness a destination wedding with the legendary hospitality of Lakshmivilas. The heat and sun of mid-May could not desist the spirit in any way.

Built by Maharana Fateh Singh in 1911, this luxury heritage hotel, Lakshmivilas, now managed by the Lalit Group, sits on a hilltop with majestic architecture and decor that reflects the culture, charm and even grandeur of a bygone era, without being opulent or on your face. Adjacent to the magnificent Fateh Sagar Lake, nestled amidst the Aravalli ranges, the Palace offers breakthtaking views from every heritage suite. Twenty-six acres of lush green lawns and gardens compliment every destination wedding organised here. The century-old Palace indeed epitomises bespoke luxury.

The lobby exudes old world charm, with intricately carved walls depicting the architecture of the Raaj. The well appointed Palace suites have decades old large multi blade fans that make you nostalgic and huge wash rooms with elaborate dress changing closets. The Mewar architecture and the old world teak and mehagony furniture are a treat to the eyes indeed. The enormous Maharana and Maharani suites are indeed a once in a lifetime luxury. The Maharana courtyard on the first floor overlooking the Fateh Sagar Lake and the AUM shop to take back a slice of Udaipur are two other major attractions of the Lakshmivilas Palace.
Moonlit dinner at Aangan, the dining paradise, soaking in the essence of Mewari culture of dance and music, even in the pre-wedding night, added to the beauty of the moment. The old times cart without the horse is an excellent prop that adds its royal charm to the Palace, indeed.
One of the key funs in a destination wedding is the diversity of people you meet and I met group CEO of an African corporate major, parents of several of my past students, some of the almost forgotten past students, a business tycoon who went up the ladder in his lifetime with no formal education, social workers, and many more. And, you meet them in their relaxed best, with pearls of wisdom to share or a joke to crack. Sharing anecdotes with or without creative imagination is a favourite pastime in such a luxuriant atmosphere.
The other aspect is of food, and in this case, we had a variegated choice of Rajasthani shuddh shakahari menu resplendent with milk and yoghurt preparations, vegetables and potatoes in various combinations, and roti, paratha, rice all appearing with ghee and assorted embellishments.
The best fun, of course, was of the musical night before marriage, lovingly called Sangeet Sandhya, with the bride's and bridegroom's sides competing in music and dance, and all ending up with a free for all collective dance and music performance. Whether the favourite sport of romancing someone from the other side was rampant or not, is not known to me. Hope some sparks did fly.
While relatives from both sides participated in every little rasm or custom, like goad-bharai, tilak, et al, I enjoyed hopping around the huge green lawns, Fateh Sagar Lake, and also trudge along the banks of lakes Pichola and Doodhtalai. Evening tea overlooking the Fateh Sagar or a late night chat on the lawns of Lakshmivilas were great moments of relaxation with food for the soul.
A destination wedding is never complete without the participating folks changing their dresses some three times a day, and not just the betrothed couple, thus, running a riot of colors and styles, desi and firangi, at the venue.
A cocktail of an exquisite place, with a hugely spread English-Desi breakfast and true blue Rajasthani vegetarian meals, and friendly people with a high profile colourful wedding, can only be an intense holiday to rejuvenate yourself. Having achieved the mission, I bade farewell to the City of Lakes 72 hours after I stepped on it.

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