Think of Rajasthan and colourful vibrant images of havelies, ladies decked up in bright saris, glorious food, camel carts running on the roads and sand dunes dancing to the tunes of wind appear immediately. As a kid, I had visited Rajasthan innumerable times and every single time, it had left me wanting to visit it once again and soak in the vibrant culture. There is so much to see and explore in Rajasthan and every time, the experience is entirely different from the previous one.
Many of the palaces in Rajasthan are now converted into hotels and one such boutique hotel is Narendra Bhawan in Bikaner. Home to the last Maharaja of Bikaner, his highness Narendra Singh Ji, this property is one of its kind and is designed in a way that reflects a lot of his taste and experience.The property retells the story of the last reigning Maharaja of Bikaner, Narendra Singh Ji and the moment you enter the verandah, you are actually taken back in time and can feel the royal touch and style of him in minute details. The hotel is designed like an actual house and the guests are made comfortable like home as soon as they step in.
The hotel is a beautiful mix of modern and traditional with stories to describe every element that’s incorporated in the design. The entire theme is based on Narendra Singh Ji’s memories and collections from his travel around the world.
I was invited to Narendra Bhawan for a Food Meditation concept which the hotel has designed for the guests and I absolutely loved the entire experience. The design of the food meditation was quite unique and covered various aspects of a meditation.
The first food meditation was at the luxurious Laxmi Nivas Palace. It was the Museum lunch at the gold room which was the smoking room for the Maharaja. The walls of the room have gold stucco design and supposedly 45 Kg of gold has been used to do the design of this room alone. The dishes served were inspired by the ones that king himself used to serve his guests. From light as feather Asparagus mousse, creamy roasted cauliflower soup, Pomfret with béarnaise sauce and duck cutlet to an extravagant Plat De Bikaner ( Rajasthani Thali ), this meal was definitely fit for a king.
The second food meditation was my favorite where we dined under the stars. Dinner by the darbari lake was no less than a dream. Fabulous company, drinks flowing and music in the background, dreams are made of this.
Literary lunch was the third food meditation. It was a seven-course meal and each course was inspired by a piece of literature. All of us read the excerpts from one book each and I must say that the experience was one of a kind. Chowder with shellfish extract and cognac with crushed ship biscuits inspired by Moby Dick ; or, the Whale by Herman Melville, Soy Ginger marinated drunken Chicken with white fungus from the last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones or the Baked camembert on melba inspired by Le Ventre De Paris by Emile Zola, each course was a work of art.
The staff at Narendra Bhawan had saved the best for the last. The last food meditation was Dining in the dark. A very different and exciting concept, this one emphasize on the fact that if your eyes are closed, your other senses are heightened and you are able to use them more efficiently. It was a fabulous experience to touch the food, smell it to figure out the ingredients that went into making it and then peacefully enjoying every morsel of it, I must say I enjoyed it a lot.
This unique experience is best experienced yourself and cannot be expressed in words alone. I’ve some of the best memories of this very innovative concept of food meditation, perfect for any food connoisseur. Perfectly balance it with some of the wonderful sights of Bikaner and you have a memorable vacation to look forward to. Get in touch with them to plan yours.
Narendra Bhawan, Bikaner,
Address: Samvit Shikshan Sansthan,
Gandhi Colony, Samta Nagar,
Phone: 0151 515 1500