Ask any seasoned traveler to the blue city of Jodhpur and they will tell you that the Ranbanka Palace is an icon. In a state with atmospheric palaces and majestic forts galore, Ranbanka stands out for its quiet charm, its sandstone pink façade, its flower-covered balconies and the beauty of its breezy outdoor spaces.
The palace hotel in Rajasthan, a state with an intricate network of palaces and Havelis, is a striking heritage palace property with overhanging balconies, expansive trellis windows and sweeping grounds, which are reminiscent of a gentler era of architectural beauty and a regal lifestyle.
Ranbanka Palace, sited at just four kilometers from the airport, was built in 1927 by Maharajadhiraja Sir Ajit Singhji. The palace has been restored and transformed into a luxury hotel with the best of facilities and the warm hospitality and grace that the Rajputana culture is famous for.
Restored and revitalized suites
The 70-room Ranbanka Palace is surrounded by stately gardens and courtyards. The suites are exquisitely handcrafted by traditional artisans well-versed in the fine craftsmanship that the state is famous for, and which has found expression down centuries on palace walls, fort embankments and in a million other monuments and buildings. The suites are named Warrior, Mughal, Krishna, Kurja, and Maharaja, in a clear reference to the warrior clans that once ruled Rajasthan.
The palace hotel has over 90 restored and revitalized heritage rooms and suites, ranging from the deluxe and club rooms to the extravagant suites across the breezy Courtyard Wing, the classic Legacy Wing, and the luxurious Jodhana Wing. These exclusive suites are accentuated by artifacts from the royal family's private collection.
A stay at the Jodhana Suites includes offbeat experiences – bespoke dining on Marwari and Rajput cuisines by the royal family’s chefs and craftsmen; in-room shopping with Jodhpur's best artisans, including the jooti makers, the bangle craftsmen, the tie-and-dye artists, and earthen-ware potters. The suites have a private terrace that opens out to views of a central courtyard and is a vantage point for enjoying the cultural entertainment hosted by the palace hotel or to hosting private dinners for small celebrations.
The Heritage Classic rooms are an ode to the way the royalty lived, outfitted with four-poster beds, arched columns, lush upholstery, and vintage décor. The Heritage Premium rooms warm coloured walls and art-filled spaces.
The Ranbanka Palace, in keeping with its luxury tag, features the best of facilities – the spa and a series of restaurants, among others.
The culinary experiences include farm-to-table Rajputana cuisines, serving ancient recipes that feature slow-cooked meats and barbeques. The Baithak, a Rajasthani lounge is characterized by bajots (intricately embossed low-seating crafted out of silver) and gaddi massons (a cushioned low-seating). This is where Ranbanka Palace hosts kaalbelia dances and puppet shows and offers a traditional repast. The baithak serves an authentic thali cooked by second-generation chefs, who once served the royal family.
Pancharanga is a multi-cuisine restaurant offering a lavish spread of continental, oriental and Indian cuisines and features old motifs and art forms rendered by expert karigaars, while the contemporary Jodhana Courtyard pays homage to the culinary and cultural art of colonial Marwar. The Polo Bar is a nod to Jodhpur’s tradition of Polo, and features trophies and memorabilia won and collected by the royal family over generations.
Expeditions into the countryside
Fringing Ranbanka Palace is the gardens and farms of Bisalpur Jor, which have been rewilded and conserved as natural habitats for several birds and smaller animals indigenous to the region. The palace hotel is an ideal blend of royal living and Rajasthan’s famous wild outback, many of which were once denuded but have now been restored. The villages around are home to communities such as the Rajputs, the Jats and the Bishnois, a tribe known to fiercely protect the migratory birds and the wildlife in the region, including the endangered blackbuck.
Ranbanka Palace offers some interesting exploratory trips, among them a drive to the Bisalpur Nature Reserve, at a 30-minute drive on the Jodhpur-Jaipur Highway. The sanctuary, an arid desert terrain, is home to migratory birds and native wildlife such as blackbuck, chinkaras, blue bulls, hares, jackals, wild boars, ponies, parrots, peacocks, and kurjas or demoiselle cranes, among others.
The village of Bisalpur, perched on the edge of Jodhpur, is far older than the blue city of Jodhpur and through its history of several hundred years, has been abandoned several times and then again resettled. Ranbanka Palace takes guests on exploratory tours to the Bisalpur Lake, where you can see birds dive and come back up with their meals, or just cruise over its placid surface. Enjoy a traditional tea after the excursion and a camel ride.
Ranbanka Palace is an opulent sanctuary that allows for slow travel and exploring the destination at your own slow pace, savouring it's several cultural, heritage and culinary