The Vijay Vilas Palace belongs to the Jadeja Kings of Kutch. Mr. Siddique the taxi owner and driver asked me when we entered Mandvi if I would like to go to the hotel first or visit the palace. I opted for visiting the palace. Wikipedia tells me that Vijay Vilas Palace has been built by King Khengarji III for his son and heir Vijayaraji. The construction started in 1920 and it was completed in 1929.
The entry fee is 20 rupees and the camera fee is 50 rupees. The space around the palace is huge but people mostly see the palace and walk away. I thought I would like to walk around the complex too but I took so much time inside the palace that I had to give up on walking around.
I am not very imaginative but when I looked at this room I was wondering what it would be like to sit down and have a cup of tea in this room. Better still, how would it feel to sit alone or with friends with legs folded on the sofa, the way we do at home! I guess it would feel like being a king or a queen?
A little while later I came upon an even better place for tea! The palace was not too crowded. The walls have a lot of photographs explaining various events around the palace and the family.
The view from the top floor of the palace is to die for. From the top you have uninterrupted 360 degree view of the surroundings. It is quite soothing. Without the petrol fumes it feels quite close to heaven actually! I liked it so much that I sat down for a while doing nothing. Others had the same idea. People walking around the place kept mentioning that movie Lagaan was shot here. Later I found out that not only Lagaan but Hum Dil De Chuke Hain Sanam has also been shot here.
I came down and sat for a while on the lower level as well. I witnessed an interesting conversation between Maan Singhji and two Delhi type SLR toting yuppies. Maan Singhji told them to move on as they had been sitting in the palace doing nothing for the last two hours! They initially protested but then moved on. I started chatting with him saying the place was so beautiful that one wanted to sit down.
He told me that he has been with the palace for last 32 years and his parents were caretakers as well. He mentioned that the King and his family still uses the palace in summers, otherwise they live in Mumbai. I asked if the place had air-conditioning but he said it was not required it remained cool in summers too. He pointed out that there was a 80 year old life in this palace though it was not functional anymore.
After a quick walk around the main palace compound I decided to head back. I am told that they offer luxury tent accommodation on their private beach but I wonder if I will ever give it a try!