A small walled village straight out an Indian fairy tale.
Away from the major Rajasthani tourist trail, this is a great place to chill out and get up close and personal with an Indian village.
About an hour north of Jaipur by car, a little longer by camel. Map.
SAMODE'S MAIN CLAIM to fame are the three mansions, all of them now hotels, that carry the town's name. Clearly the local Singhji family, zamindars (landlords) was living it up, no doubt thanks to their ruthless exploitation of the local peasants, oops, I mean, thanks to their wise and just reign over the lands and people entrusted to them.
There's the Samode Palace and the Samode Bagh (Garden) as well as the Samode Haveli (which is in Jaipur). However, you don't have to stay in these hotels (as attractive and pleasant as they are) to visit Samode (also known as Samod- place names can be a fluid affair in India). Other hotel options are available or you could day-trip from Jaipur.
Like every proper fairy-tale town, it has town walls and a castle, in addition to the already mentioned Samode Palace. It also, has, for some inexplicable reason, large numbers of pigs.
Within the walls you will find a large number of traditional houses, as well as traditional people. Close your eyes and open them to imagine you've traveled back in time by 100 years... until one of the charmingly turbaned Rajasthani farmers answers his mobile phone.
Many of the houses are havelis, family houses built around an open courtyard for the minor nobility and others near the top of the property ladder. Many of these are brightly painted and decorated (India would be a lot prettier if this tradition was still followed- surely there are plenty of underemployed people around to keep it up?)
I think of Samode as the 'medieval village' because once through the walls people are using tools and appliances that our grandfathers probably would have though of as old-fashioned.
There's the blacksmith, the sweet-wallah stirring his witch-sized cauldron, and of course the bangle maker who magically creates multi-coloured bangles from a set of brightly coloured hammers. Made to measure, naturally.
|Blacksmith hammering away with the main city gate in the background.|
|The sweet-wallah with his witch's cauldron of sugary goop.|
|The bangle-wallah crafting made-to-measure bangles...|
|...with his magical technicolor hammers.|
|Samode Bagh's Mughal garden combines water, trees, and a baradari (open pavillion).|
|The palace at Samode Bagh is small but charming.|
Although you'll see plenty of camels, that's probably not the best way to cover the distance from Jaipur to Samode. You'll need a car with driver to take you there.
Samode on Wikipedia