Vijay Vilas Palace overlooking the Arabian Sea in Mandvi (Kutch area) is one of the recently constructed palaces in India compared to its Rajput counterparts. It is an epitome of graceful curves built in fusion architectural style of local Kutch, Rajasthan and Bengal. It was constructed as a summer retreat in the 1920’s by the Rajah of Kutch and named after the then crown prince. The erstwile ruling royal family resides in the palace after their original residence in nearby Bhuj was partly destroyed in a Earthquake in 2001.
The imposing red sand stone palace is located in the middle of a huge garden which stretches until the Arabian sea. The ground floor has an array of rooms and a well lit sit out at the back characterized by beautifully carved stone meshes (jalis).
The first floor has the curved Bengal style domes on either side. The exquisite artwork with coloured glass, and refined stone work Jharokhas (windows) and spirals are eye catching. A narrow metal staircase leads to the top of the dome which is open on all sides allowing visitors to dance with the wind with little or no effort.
When I stepped in there, I instantly remembered the iconic Indian film (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam) where the beautiful heroine (Aishwarya ex Ms world) was standing in the very same place, teary eyed, waiting for her love, the macho hero (Salman Khan) who was taking long strides at the other end of the palace towards his love lorn lady love. As I hummed my one time favourite tunes from the movie, the vast stretches of green on either side and the cool wind on my face on a warm sunny day was completely soothing. Curves are grace, curves are soft, curves are beautiful and so the creator made the Earth round, and our physical bodies gracefully curved as well.
There is a beach front tent hotel inside the palace which is quiet and private. Mandvi Beach is a haven for bird watching in winter and on keen observation you can see how beautifully our feathered friends express themselves.