Connecting a traveller to India’s rich heritage, The Lallgarh Palace in Bikaner is an ideal fit in a tour of Rajasthan. Showcasing an old world charm and values, the heritage hotel is a destination of distinction for weddings and MICE
Successfully overcoming the challenges faced by a heritage property, The Lallgarh Palace has been able to maintain its royal legacy. It is often assumed that Lallgarh Palace has been named so because of the red sandstone that was employed in its making, however, this is incorrect. The palace was named by Maharaja Ganga Singhji in the memory of his father Maharaj Lall Singhji. The palace hotel is now owned by the Maharaja Ganga Singhji Trust and the great grand daughter, Princess Rajyashree Kumari, an Arjuna award recipient, holds the chairperson position of the trust. She is also the author of two books based on the history of the palace.
The palace has four separate wings, each with its own distinctive characteristics. The first building, the south wing (Laxmi Niwas), was constructed in 1902. Second is the west wing (Sadul Niwas), constructed in 1912. The north wing (Karni Niwas) was built in 1924, mainly for formal entertainment and banquets, shortly thereafter the fourth and final – the east wing (Shiv Villas), was constructed in 1926. Thereby all four wings were linked harmoniously.
The Lallgarh Palace is a 56 keys property in Sadul Niwas with each room different from another. In an exclusive interaction, Princess Kumari informs, “Forts and palaces have always been on the list of travellers within and outside India, as these are living history and should be marketed like that. You stay in these properties not just for luxury but to experience an era of which one has only heard of.”
Majority of the guests at the hotel are foreign travellers who stay overnight as groups. However, the hotel now receives a significant number of domestic travellers with a keen interest in the heritage connect of the palace. It has already been a favourite shooting location among for many TV shows and movies. Pre wedding shoots are organised at the hotel almost everyday.
For MICE, the hotel offers large open spaces such as the enclosed courtyards, open garden areas, the main Darbar Hall for conferences, business get together, product launches, pre- wedding and wedding functions, film/TV shoots etc. The main conference hall can accommodate upto 300 people while the courtyards can add another 200. The main lobby area is also used for evening activities and small functions.
The property which is more than a 100 years old needs constant upgradation and refurbishment. This factor stands out to be a major challenge. Princess Kumari mentions, “As the word ‘heritage’ itself explains that the properties under this category are of certain age and style. The main challenge is to maintain the originality of the building as that is the USP. To find craftsmen to do restoration/renovation work is becoming difficult as the new generation is not that inclined to work in old fashioned way, when all the work was hand crafted.”
Speaking about the tourist traffic, Princess Kumari, explains, “As far as Bikaner is concerned until the last few years almost 95 per cent of travellers were foreign nations, however, in the last three–four years, the ratio has changed. Presently, 60 per cent of visitors are foreigners and 40 per cent are domestic travellers whose numbers are increasing every year. With development work picking pace and also the connectivity issue being resolved it seems more domestic travellers will explore Bikaner along with foreign visitors.”
She further opines, “The travel market in India over the period of time has made great progress. The last 20 years have seen immense growth in tourist arrival numbers and the infrastructure has improved leaps and bounds. Now hotels ranging from B&B, budget, luxury and super luxury are available in our country. Heritage properties are also doing well in India as well as other parts of the world. Mostly standalone properties that offer a personalised service are run by the owners themselves. They are popular and will remain so as far as I can see.”
The hotel organises special evening performances for its guests, candle light dinners in outdoor garden and also sightseeing tours across the city. Just two km away from Junagarh Fort and at a distance of 10 km from Bikaner railway station, it also enjoys close proximity to the main markets where one can buy local sweets and handicrafts. In all, the palace hotel is a true representation of the city’s history and culture, aptly fitting a tour itinerary that showcases the culture of Rajasthan.