Weekendje weg van Delhi: Pataudi Palace

Weekend getaway from Delhi: Pataudi Palace

Aggressive and quiet palace retreat at your fingertips. This is indeed the USP of the Pataudi Palace, part of the Neemrana Group of ‘Non-Hotels’. So close to Delhi that you don’t need to make elaborate travel plans. And yet far from the madness of the city. Add to that the sprawling lawns and the taste of a Nawabi culture, and you’ve got yourself a weekend getaway worth having.

Peacocks strut between the fountains and greens. Parrots live on treetops, dozens of them. Other birds, long-tailed or perhaps a black beauty, tease you with glimpses of their exotic selves. There’s no end to the bags of sunshine you can soak up… by the pool, on the breakfast patio, in the sit-outs. The hallways are lined with comfortable reclining chairs and couches and diwans. Lounge just about anywhere!

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Entertainment at the Pataudi Palace

Exploring the grounds of the palace, we couldn’t resist looking through the hedge at the white colonial bungalow next door, which is used by the Pataudi family when they are in town. Designed by an Austrian architect, the palace was built in 1935 by the cricketer Nawab Iftikhar Ali Khan, the father of the more famous and recently deceased Pataudi Mansur Ali Khan, also known as Tiger in cricket circles. As the home of Pataudi, his actress Sharmila Tagore and their children, Saba and Bollywood stars Saif Ali Khan and Soha, the palace ranks high on the glamor quotient.

Once inside you are drawn to the old sepia family photos – of the two Nawabs, the Indian cricket teams in the 1930s and 1940s, Tiger and Sharmila’s wedding, Saif junior and other relatives. Paintings from the family collection adorn the walls of the hallways and mahals that now serve as guest rooms. The beautiful Murano glass chandeliers in the Durbar Hall and smaller dining room complete the picture for this heritage resort.

Things to see and do

You come to Pataudi Palace to relax, not to ‘do’ things. Like we did. We lounged on the chairs in our sit-out, trying to imagine how the Pataudis spent their days here, following the peacocks in the garden, counting the noisy parrots, trying and unable to identify unusual birds, other guests chatted, tried our hands at billiards, table tennis and ended the evening with some hot pakoras and tea. With the night still young, fittingly, we watched a cricket match in the TV room.

Spa inside the Pataudi Palace
Spa inside the Pataudi Palace

For those wanting to venture out, there is Sultanpur Lake and Bird Sanctuary 25 km away and Hari Mandir Ashram, of Julia Roberts fame, shot here for Eat, Love, Pray. And yes, she stayed at Pataudi Palace.

Ge there

Away Take the NH8 (Jaipur Road) from Delhi to Bilaspur Chowk via Gurgaon and Manesar. Turn right at Bilaspur Chowk, 500 meters before the toll gate. Do not cross the toll gate. Pataudi Palace is 9 km from Bilaspur Chowk, on the left side. Watch out for the small sign.

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