I often wonder if the magnanimous locations shown in movies are real or those are expensive sets or are virtually created. Bollywood movies like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Lagaan, Baahubali, Devdas and many more had me intrigued mostly because of the mesmerizing locations shown in these movies. Having heard the fame of Vijay Vilas Palace where movies like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Lagaan were shot, I headed to visit it during my family road trip in Gujarat. The grand palace is located in a small coastal town of Mandvi in Gujarat.
We left for Mandvi after immersing ourselves in the vibrant culture and shimmery landscape of the salt marsh of Rann of Kutch. The plan was to explore the coastal town of Mandvi which boasts of beautiful beaches, grand palaces and authentic local delicacies. We started our Mandvi exploration with Vijay Vilas Palace and managed to reach there only 2 hours before it was about to close for the day.
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After parking our car in a huge available parking area and buying the entrance tickets, we rushed towards the palace. We walked through the dense vegetation and huge trees for around 500 metres before getting the first glimpse of this red sandstone gorgeous palace. I hadn’t thought that this route where our only companions were some peacocks and other birds will lead to such a magnificent palace. Vijay Vilas Palace appeared to be standing in the middle of absolutely nowhere.
History of Vijay Vilas Palace
I read the history of the palace on the board near the entrance gate which highlighted that Vijay Vilas palace was built in 1929 under the rule of Maharao Shri Khengarji III for the use of his son Yuvraj Vijayaraji as a summer resort. After the 2001 Gujarat earthquake in which their Bhuj palace got damaged, this palace is now a permanent residence of the royal family.
Architecture of Vijay Vilas Palace
We strolled around the palace and appreciated its architecture of exquisite stone work. Vijay Vilas palace has acquired the plan from the palaces from Orchha and Datia. The elements of Rajput architecture were profoundly visible in the exteriors of the palace. I went absolutely gaga and got my gear ready to capture the palace from all the possible angles. The white marble fountain was charming to say the least. We clicked a lot of family portraits in the courtyard and the palace as the backdrop. I hoped I was a little princessly dressed.
The guide showed us around and pointed out the spots where particular shots of Dil De Chuke Sanam were shot. He was more delighted than we were upon showing the room where Aishwarya Rai stayed during the shooting of the movie. The interiors are maintained as a museum and brings the 1920s warmth alive. Succumbed to my obsession of imagining, my thoughts took over and I imagined how the life of king who spent his summers here would be. The classy furniture, the royal dining table, the ornated pillars which narrate the story of period gone-by left me in an awe of those times.
My time at Vijay Vilas Palace
We took the spiral stairs to reach the top floor of the palace. The balcony offered a view of sprawling 450 acres of lush greenery which was absolutely breathtaking. The highlight of the view was the private beach of around 2 kms which just added to the gorgeous landscape. Every nook and corner was so beautiful that I wondered how the royal family selects their chilling spots everyday. The chatris, the ceiling, the jharokhas, the jalis, the colored glass work on windows and doors and the distinguished stone carvings were phenomenal and the credit of this craftsman ship doesn’t belong to a region but to many like Jaipur, Saurashtra, Bengal and ofcourse the local Kutchi artisans.
To see the dissolving sun from the jalis of Vijay Vilas palace will remain etched in my memory for long. The guard whistled again and again but our feet would just not move away from this spectacle. We posed on all the probable spots and clicked uncountable pictures. I wish I had some more time there to immerse my self in the calmness there.
Tips while visiting Vijay Vilas Palace
- Timings – 8AM–6:30PM everyday (I’d suggest to visit the palace either at the time of opening so that you can have your time without much crowd there or visit during the sun set.)
- How to reach there – State buses and jeeps ply from Bhuj every 30 minutes for Mandvi. Also, the palace is 7 kms away from the town, so local jeeps can be hired to reach the palace.
- Where to Stay – Vijay Vilas Palace boasts of a heritage luxury resort, Vijay Vilas Resort within the premises and close to the beach. Few budget hotels are also available in Mandvi.
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