The 150-year-old Bijolai Palace is one of the oldest residences in Jodhpur built in 1859 by Maharaja Takhat Singh as his summer hunting home which has been declared as a “Heritage Property” by INTACH. It had been used for many years as a lively royal paradise surrounded by lakes in the midst of the Aravali Hills.
The present Maharaja of Jodhpur-Marwar, His Highness Gajsingh II gifted the Bijolai Palace in 2004 to Jal Bhagirathi Foundation. Subsequent to a period of restoration, the palace was opened to guests in 2012 after being fully refurbished with modern amenities.
The Bijolai Palace snuggled between lakes and hills in a peaceful valley away from the hustle and bustle of Jodhpur but still only eight kilometers away from the centre of the city, is a remarkable example of the ancient wisdom of traditional water harvesting to survive in the desert by collecting rainwater. The Palace Hotel is entirely self sufficient in its water requirements by storing rainwater during monsoons.
The Bijolai Palace has had the privilege of hosting His Royal Highness Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales and Her Royal Highness Victoria Bernadotte, Crown Princess of Sweden among many other dignitaries.
Treehouse Hotels is now currently operating the Bijolai Palace and it has been rebranded to The Bijolai Palace, a Treehouse Palace Hotel.
Marwar itself lies in the eastern extremities of the Great Indian Thar Desert. Said to be cursed by an ancient hermit CheeriaNathji, this region is one of the most water distressed zones in the world, with a great propensity for drought.
As the story goes, in the 15th century Rathore ruler RaoJodha began work on the very majesticMehrangarh Fort despite the hermit’s wish for peace. In retaliation, the hermit cursed RaoJodha’s kingdom to languish without water. And, in the last 50 years of records, an overwhelming 43 years have had droughts in this region. Marwar stretches approximately one hundred and thirty-five kilometers, and has low and erratic rainfall. This instability exasperates the danger of drought and creates a constant tension for water security. Despite these challenges, incredibly, it is one of the most densely populated deserts in the world- with a density of 90 people per square mile, compared to typical concentrations of 3-4.
Yet, the Maharajas of Jodhpur – Marwar even in those eras had the wisdom and insight to create a sustainable living by developing water harvesting systems all through the region. This tradition lives on even today and is perhaps the best preserved inheritance of the Maharajas and their subsequent bloodlines that has given sustainable life to several villages in the Marwarregion. The Bijolai Lake is one such scientific wonder that as constructed in 1850 by Maharaja Takhat Singh.
The BijolaiLake lies conveniently close to the city of Jodhpur, but far enough for the surroundings to be quiet and adorns the unalloyed air clean. The architecture of the lake is an amazement of the vision of the Maharajas, as it exhibits the meticulous planning of the old rulers and a bygone era.
The Bijolai Lake, caresses the adjoining rocky hills of the Aravalis, beautiful temples, canvassing the colours of the setting sun, fresh breeze, ambient music, and has an aura of vibrancy, sensuality and a tinge of melancholy attached to it. It paints the picture of the reality of Marwar so aptly, so less water, yet so full of Life.