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Samode palace

The view of the façade is rather imposing; the main building fans out to the sides and a series of balconies, one atop another, are set in the center. Fretwork screens run all along the length of the top floor and the family standard flutters from the curved roof emblazoned with its coat of arms.

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 Rawals trace their descent from Prithvi Singh of Amber (1503-28), 17th prince of the house of Kacchwaha Rajputs, who is turn trace their descent from Lord Rama. Gopal Singh, one of the 12 sons of Prithvi Singh was given Samode.

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 colors. It is called Sultan Mahal after the painstaking craftsman, who created it. Old and heavy carved silver furniture brought from Nepal by the grandmother of the present Rawal gleams dully as a ray of sunlight strikes it. To the left of the main haveli is the Durbar Hall, which was built about a hundred years ago. Again it is completely painted in ornate floral motifs and colored delicately with vegetable pigments which still have a special glow of their own.

A hall of mirrors which is a must for any palace of consequence is also to be found in Samode. Large and tiny fragments of polished mirror are set into plasterwork. You walk into the room and see a thousand images of yourself. At night a single candle flame can create the effect of a thousand stars-a magical experience to say the least. The people of the desert love mirrors because the cool polished surface reminds them of water.

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