|As only a small section of Ravla Khempur, also known as the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, for the 2012 movie filmed on site.|
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When we originally booked an extra tour of Udaipur it was due to the fact that we were greatly interested in staying in one of the luxurious historic hotels overlooking one of the gorgeous man-made lakes in the area.
|We were delighted to see the curly ears of the Marwari horses at the hotel.|
We visited Udaipur during one of the excursions on the Maharajas Express Train on day 3, and posted the story and photos on day 4, as shown at this link. After reviewing our 55-night tour of the balance of India, it appeared we’d be repeating a number of venues we’d already visited in Udaipur, on the train’s various excursions.
|Each area of the property was artfully designed. From this site: “Ravla Khempur was chosen as the site or the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel; it is an equestrian hotel that was originally the palace of a tribal chieftain, located about an hour and a half outside of Udaipur in the village of Khempur. Madden considered the building to have a magical quality and unmistakable charm, remarking that it had “something special that could ultimately draw the characters in. It had these wonderful cool, dark interiors, with glimpses of saturated light and the teeming life outside its walls. Production designer Alan MacDonald, who won Best Art Direction in a Contemporary Film from the Art Directors Guild for his work, was brought in to embellish the interiors, intentionally making it clash with “interesting furniture inspired by colonial India, mismatched local textiles, all mixed together with modern plastic bits and pieces, with everything distressed and weather-beaten. Footage was also shot at the Lake Palace Hotel at Lake Pichola.” (where we are now in Udaipur).|
The concept of visiting previously seen venues didn’t appeal to us and thus, we contacted Rajiv at Tailormade Journeys and he canceled the repeats, replacing them with other tours we’re doing now that we’re back in Udaipur.
|Although the property is well-worn over its 400 years, it is amazingly well-preserved and maintained.|
Had we known our hotel would be more modest than anticipated, we may not have wanted to return to Udaipur at all. However, after yesterday’s “replacement” tour to a place we’d found online, we are so happy we returned regardless of the less than perfect hotel.
|We loved this sign, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, for the Elderly & Beautiful.”|
Yesterday, after an 90-minute car ride with our thoughtful driver and tour guide, Vishnu (named after one of the most revered Indian gods), we embarked on a journey to the village of Khempur, about 48 km, 30 miles, northwest of Udaipur (yes, it takes 90-minutes to travel 48 km, 30 miles in the dense traffic getting out of the city).
|The pool was added after the filming of the movies. This ivy and flower-covered wall were stunning in person.|
We felt the 16-hour long travel day on Sunday from Nagpur Airport proved to be well worth it as we drove up to the closed iron gates of the famous hotel from the US/British made movie, the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, starring some of the finest senior actors in the business with stellar performances that grab at your heartstrings.
|Nothing was spared in adding to the beauty of the property over the years.|
Vishnu got out of the car to open the closed but not locked gates. At that point, we both were thinking the hotel had since been abandoned until a kind young man approached and welcomed us. Even that experience was comparable to that which one would see in a movie.
|Each entrance has a unique and charming design.|
Our mouths were agape as to what lay before our eyes in sheer wonder, curious to see what would happen next. As we followed the young man, who spoke snippets of English we were then greeted by the manager, a kindly young man who spoke fluent English and offered to show us around. We gladly accepted.
|A gorgeous Marwari female horse checking out who’s come to call, specifically us.|
He suggested we stop at the hotel dining room for coffee/tea after the tour, which once again we joyfully accepted. How amazing it was to sit in the beautifully appointed historic hotel used in the making of the 2012 movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and later followed up with the sequel, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in 2015.
|The horses were curious as to our visit.|
Much to our surprise, the hotel is still operational and beautifully so, creating an ambiance like none other. As we toured through the massive property with our host, we were entranced by its charm and historical appeal.
|A handsome male, one of two stallions on the property.|
Had we known it was still operational prior to booking the lengthy plans for India, nothing would have pleased me more than to have stayed there for a few weeks. What we found most surprising was the fact that there are 17 of the unique-to-India Marwari horses residing on the property described as follows below:
“The Marwari or Malani is a rare breed of horse from the Marwar (or Jodhpur) region of India. Known for its inward-turning, ear tips, it comes in all equine colors, although piebald and skewbald patterns tend to be the most popular with buyers and breeders. It is known for its hardiness and is quite similar to the Kathiawari, another Indian breed from the Kathiawar region southwest of Marwar. Many breed members exhibit a natural ambling gait. The Marwari horses are descended from native Indian ponies crossed with Arabian horses, possibly with some Mongolian influence.
|The historic property was originally dated back to 1620 AD.|
The Rathores, the traditional rulers of the Marwar region of western India, were the first to breed the Marwari. Beginning in the 12th century, they espoused strict breeding that promoted purity and hardiness. Used throughout history as a cavalry horse by the people of the Marwar region, the Marwari was noted for its loyalty and bravery in battle.
|This is the room where actor Judi Dench stayed during the filming of the movie.|
The breed deteriorated in the 1930s, when poor management practices resulted in a reduction of the breeding stock, but today has regained some of its popularity. The Marwari is used for light draught and agricultural work, as well as riding and packing. In 1995, a breed society was formed for the Marwari horse in India.
The exportation of Marwari horses was banned for decades, but between 2000 and 2006, a small number of exports were allowed. Since 2008, visas allowing temporary travel of Marwari horses outside India have been available in small numbers. Though they are rare they are becoming more popular outside of India due to their unique looks.”
|Can you imagine lounging in this window seat with a cup of tea/coffee or wine?|
|This man spends time with this dog guarding the property.|
|The dinnerware in the hotel’s dining room is made of brass and depicts the Marwari horse’s head on the knives and hooves on the balance of the artful pieces.|
After we completed the tour, our generous host offered us tea/coffee and sweet biscuits (cookies). Tom ate the cookies with his cup of dark roasted coffee while I sipped on a fine cup of black tea.
|The horse theme is carried out through the property as shown in these bridle buckles used in the design of the dining chairs.|
|We had coffee/tea in this exquisite room with the Marwari horses looking in the windows at us from time to time. What a special experience it was indeed!|
To contact the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, also known as Ravla Khempur and for information on their horses, dining and hotel bookings, please contact them at this link or by phone at +91 294 561773, or by email at this link.
|A Marwari horse standing at the window as we sipped on our beverages.|
|Us, in an old vehicle referred to as a Willy/Jeep.|
Last night, after a pleasant dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, located across the street, we had a pleasant dinner, especially enjoying the scenes over Sagar Lake at night with the sounds of fireworks in the distance, birds singing in the night and the smells of incense and Indian spices wafting through the air.
We headed back to our room, where we purchased the movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and started watching the delightful story. In a few days, we’ll download the sequel and once again revel in the familiar rooms of this magnificent property.
India… It’s magical.
Note: A special thank you to the wonderful owner of Ajanta Photo, Level 5, Century Plaza Lake Palace Rd, Old City, near, Kalaji Goraji, Udaipur, Rajasthan 313001, phone 982 808 3294 for delivering the much-needed SD card reader to our hotel today on very short notice when Amazon India refused to leave our order for this item at the hotel desk in our absence. Subsequently, we are now able to download photos from our camera to my new HP Chromebook, which didn’t have a slot for an SD card (go figure).
Photo from one year ago today, March 3, 2019:
|Tom tossed some seeds to Frank and The Mrs. For more photos, please click here.|