A Brush With Royalty

7:49 PM

A bus, train or flight to Vadodara and a taxi ride away is Jambughoda. The beauty and sheer excellence of a place is by the way its residents reciprocate

Deepa Bhai with his flute
At Jambughoda Palace, the warmth and hospitality is at par with home. It made me feel relaxed and the impeccable service we got was 
Window at the fort in Champaner
Kings Table Clock
It is no myth that first impression is the last impression and this holds very true when it comes to your home for the holiday. The big room had high ceilings and the ancient fan had its own charm. The dressing room was complete with a full length mirror and an antique wardrobe that made it even more alluring. The almost attached bathroom was humongous and could fit a tiger inside. Maybe it did. They are kings. They can give their pet tiger a bath in their bathroom. They are kings. They rule!
The backyard of the palace has been magnificently changed into a sphere with a perfectly placed swing and chairs that call out to you. It is not of any intention but the natural flow of the place is superfluous.  The most attractive part of the property was definitely the palette they chose for us every time. A very fine representation of Gujarati Cuisine. They served us slow cooked meat over fire and chapatis that were as light as cotton amongst other dishes and every time it was complete with a dessert . The humility of the staff was commendable.

Common room in the cottage

The King, VikramSinh is a well spoken gentleman. Our first meeting was rather formal as villagers greeted him with marigold garlands (that came on a silver stick) on the auspicious occasion of Dussehra. They greet the King to show their thankfulness and bowing to him in humility as he still continues to respect his land and where everyone comes from.
Intricate design on a pillar in Champaner
South entrance to the Jami Masjid
The subsequent meeting turned out to be interactive as we were invited for a Royal dinner with the King and his family. It was a night of old stories and the opulence that a king holds. The Kings’ father helped open up a school which is still one of India’s best just because his son (the now king) and his sister did not have holidays that coincided. I gave the Queen the recipe of an Assamese pickle of Bamboo shoot. The Yuvraj was renamed “K” and we laughed with them and had a memorable night. His better half, Bhavnawas a Delhi University pass out and we did reminisce our time in the capital. A fine family, they made us feel like blue bloods.
Meeting the villagers was also a reflection of the King that ruled (read help) them. They are a content bunch. It was evident in their interaction with the King or the Prince. K took us to Narukot on a Chagra (a vehicle that is mostly used for trade. It is led by a bullet). We stood behind as we were taken into the villages through tree plantations which the royal family planted ages ago. The villagers are prosperous and content with how their king has been taking care of them. 

Saturday Haat

This part of Jambughoda celebrates ‘Eend’ which is directly proportional to their prosperity. This ritual is a feast to be commenced only when the intent of their families are fulfilled.  This is measured in terms of the harvest, physical affability or any other wishes or aspirations they have for their families. To have a pithora painting in your home has nothing to do with decoration but is a sign of well being and fulfillment for yourself and your family. Religious painters come and adorn your walls with free hand paintings of elements of day to day life. The “horse” is a central figure and can be seen in various places throughout this mural.
Pithora Painting
Stepped Wall
Narukot is a village of 52 residents. Our point of contact was Deepa Bhai and the whole village comprised of his family members. Seven sons. Many grandchildren. Great Grand Children. Wife. Daughter In laws. It was a whole village. And the Pithora Painting in his wall was as opulent as his moustache and was nothing less than an art gallery. His prosperity was best understood when he showed us his “Moshita” which were large barrels of paddy and corn. These are stored for years and years only to be used during special occasions like weddings or the like. LikeDeepa Bhai’s “Moshita” had been storingfor the last twenty five years. Belonging to the Rathwa Tribe, Deepa Bhai played flute for us as we relished local delicacies.
Living Room
The old civilization of Champaner was made by Muslim Ruler, MahmudBegada and still holds the lushness of his rule. The Jami Masjid is where the subjects came for their jumma (Friday namaz) and its various forts has intricate designs and spoke of the ruler’s taste. The ceilings had abundance of sculpting and one can just imagine how much work that would have been. The pillars have been made like columns by keeping them on top of each other and had designs till the top. What was fascinating was that the designs were invariably different from each other. The lawn around the masjid was covered in a canopy of trees and it is relaxing for a little time to sit back and move on to explore more of this unknown Muslim kingdom. There were plenty of stepped wells and even though they have been made with articulate architecture, their maintenance has been low in recent times. The Saher-Ki-Masjid had windows with Lattice designs and ceilings that went swirling to a tomb.  The most enthralling of all is Sikander Shah’s Tomb which was two identical forts adjacent to each other and had light falling in the perfect direction accentuating the motifs of the tomb that has been made with ample of concentration and for days unending. The Custom house had parts of canons used during World War II and also ammunition that were used for treacherous to attack enemy at a distance.
 Cannons used in WWII
The days in the palace went on unhindered. The food was overwhelmingly fulfilling. We overate every single time. The evenings were spent in soothing sunsets and Chagra rides with the prince or loosening up in the lawn with the royal dogs for company. On mornings and evenings, the leisure walks were most special. The greenery gave me hope that humanity is still alive as deforestation was not a problem here. The King, Vikram Sinh has been the only one in the area who has not been commercially inclined to gain prosperity and he has been awarded by the International Society of Naturalists for his efforts to keep the wildlife sanctuary in its original glory. 
The Royal family has made cottages around the palace and they let it out for enthusiasts. With three different categories to choose from, you will be delivered accordingly. I slept like a baby and I knew I was at the right place at the right time. The service will be as commendable as anywhere because Durjan Singh makes sure you are served in the right way. You can also take a ride on Raftaar, the royal horse which is a birthday gift to Anant Vikram, the king’s grandson
Tribal Art

Monalisa Borkakoty - Assamese beauty of the Team Breviloquent, she travels more than she does anything else. Digging places that no one knows is her favorite pastime. Get her chitty-chatty with a good meal and some sunsets and she is yours forever. Her travel escapades continue to inspire her to travel more
Follow her Instagram to know more.

Pictures : Monalisa and Pravin S.

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