I can’t decide what is my most special Leela moment in Jaipur. Gazing at the gleaming, moon-licked, silver-foiled domes under the sitaron ki mehfil by the shimmering pool. Or hearing the call of the peacocks, ringing through the dawn-lit air, the cool breeze wafting through my hair as I slip into warrior pose on my yoga mat, against the backdrop of the Aravallis. Or savouring the sharabi maas in its spicy splendour in the Maharajah Suite, reclining against the velvety bolsters on the private terrace while the dipping orb lazily coloured the sky pink and orange.
Luxury lies in discovering magical moments, and The Leela Palace Jaipur brings in a jaw-dropping melee of such moments that serenade your senses throughout the day. Caparisoned tuskers salute and garland you to the pounding of the nagadas as the ceremonial tilak is applied on your forehead under the welcome shower of rose petals. White marble elephants gaze silently in veneration from every direction as you walk past the flowing water into the palatial premises that come awash with stunning regional craftsmanship. It is a rich, textured visual feast—from the intricate thikri work celebrating reflections in the fine glass mosaic and the mother-of-pearl inlay detailing running through the décor to semi-precious stones lacing the floor of the Devi Mandir, the hand-painted indigo florals on the white walls, and the araish work on the grand columns.
Dazzling Turkish chandeliers hold court in the reception area, Tulsi Mahal, suspended protectively over the gurgling fountain in the centre—a precise replica of the fountain inside the Red Fort in Delhi. The soothing murmur of this stunning fountain sets the tone for the sensorial experience that slowly unfolds.
There is a beautiful lilt that creates a rhythm in the flowing spaces as the indoors melt into the outdoors, rather effortlessly. The combined strains of the stringed and percussion instruments helmed in the open, fuse to create a symphony of sorts. The musical essence of the santoor, cupped by the dholak or the tabla, fills the air with a decided sweetness and the breeze carries the notes afar, across the lotus ponds, and through the baradari—the 12-doorway space roofed with mini domes to accentuate the acoustics. The soft notes of the flute being played during the breakfast hours float through the air, amidst the birdsong and sunshine.
The blue expanse of the pool at the heart of the property, the gurgling of fountains, and the gentle swish of the water as it sparkles and moves along in the tiny, interconnected flow-aways, together with the soothing drop of the cascading rush into the private, temperature-controlled plunge pools in the villas compose the relaxation quotient here just so easily. All while you spot clusters of retort-shaped nests by the baya weaver, on the palms, and observe and the male robin, and rufous treepie amidst the fiery spread of the bougainvillaea.
Shilpi Madan for Zee Zest