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Samode India

Situated at a distance of 56 km from Jaipur deep in the desert, against a background of stony hills lies the large sprawling Palace of Samode that stands apart in serene splendor amid rugged hills.

The Samode Palace, which belongs to the Rawals of Samode, is about 400 years old and has been converted into a comfortable hotel run by the family.

The house is built in the characteristic pattern of an open courtyard with rooms leading off the arched corridor that runs along all four sides of the building. The Sultan Mahal is on the first floor-an exquisite room with a marble pillared verandah. It has the famous Jaipur blue tile decorations. Every inch of the ceiling and the walls are covered with floral, paisley and geometric motifs painted in vegetable colours. It is called Sultan Mahal after the painstaking craftsman, who created it.

During the day a camel ride through the Samode village and the surrounding countryside is a good idea. Riding this supercilious looking animal with its rocking gait is the best way of relaxing on a sunny morning.

Half an hour's walk up steep stone steps leads to the old fort of Sheograrh. This is where the inhabitants of Samode barricaded themselves in times of war. It is an austere building built on traditional lines. One can walk around the now tranquil battlements to the sound of cooing pigeons and doves.

Three kilometers away, iridescent with flowering bushes, fruit trees and lush green lawns, is Samode Bagh, a walled garden that once served as the recreation grounds for Samode Palace. It is an oasis set amidst the dry rugged expanse of an ochre desert.