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Sawantwadi Palace: Blending Tradition with Modern Luxury

Introduction

Famous for its ancient fortunes like grand forts and lovely temples, India attracts people and
travellers from all around the world. This has been changing in recent times though. Many of
these historical locations have become fancy hotels that combine old-world luxury with modern-day conveniences for guests. This transition does not just preserve the tradition related to these
iconic places but also provides travellers with a distinctive experience of living in India’s royal
past while enjoying all the advantages of contemporary luxuries in these properties.

One such remarkable example is Sawantwadi Palace, India’s only chef-owned palace which is
now transformed into a luxurious resort located in the heart of Maharashtra that used to be a
symbol of traditionalism and bravery.

Location

Situated in the Sindhudurg district, on the Goa-Maharashtra border, this historic palace attracts
tourists and travelers with its timeless allure and promises of a truly regal experience where we
are greeted by lush green forests, beautiful lakes, and peaceful landscapes. Known as the land
of the artists, Sawantwadi is an important part of the Konkan area, which is located on India’s mid-western coast. This palace is a perfect getaway from the fast city life and is just an hour
away from the bustling beaches of Goa.

History

The palace’s construction began back in 1795 by the then-ruler Khem Sawant III. It has been
home to the royal Sawant Bhonsle family for generations, who have had a significant influence
on the development of the area’s architecture and culture.
The Sawant Bhonsle belonged to the Sisodiya Rajput family from Udaipur. The Kingdom of the
The Sawant Bhonsle dynasty was founded by Khem Sawant I in 1627.  He along with his nephew Khem Sawant Il with an army of 12000 defeated Kudal Deshastha, took possession of their land, and later established themselves at Narendra Hill is the region where the palace is situated. Rajesaheb Khem Sawant VI and his family are the ones who currently reside in the Palace.

The decision to convert part of Sawantwadi Palace into a boutique hotel was a lifelong dream
realized at the perfect moment, fueled by a passion for hospitality and culinary arts. Lakham
and Shradha, both from hospitality backgrounds, shared a vision to share the palace’s grandeur
with the world. Inspired by the shared commitment to exceptional guest experiences, their
journey was further shaped by our personal story of envisioning a restaurant venture in Goa.

However, their ambitions expanded, leading them to create a haven where guests could savour
flavours and immerse in regional culture. Shraddha’s unwavering support and dedication were
pivotal, infusing charm into every aspect of the hotel.

Today, Sawantwadi Palace Boutique Art Hotel stands as a testament to our family’s dreams,
preserving history while offering a luxurious retreat for modern travellers. They invite guests to join
us on a culinary journey back in time, experiencing the enchantment of royal living.

Architecture

Talking about the architecture of the Sawantwadi Palace, it is a perfect example of cultural fusion.
It beautifully portrays its English arches with a touch of regional craftsmanship. The two-story
palace is famous for its ethnic and minimal charm which makes it a must-see attraction in
Sawantwadi. With its turrets, chandeliers, jharokas, and winding, narrow passageways, the
palace is an exception in the context of typical palace architecture.

Grand domes, spacious courtyards, and intricate sculptures flourish in this palace, which was
primarily constructed out of red laterite stone from the area. Walking in these parts of the palace
reflects a bygone era of elegance and wealth, telling a story of past times. Large gardens and
tall trees surround the palace, adding to its majestic appearance. With its prime location facing
the coconut trees and the artificial lake known as Moti Talav, which was built in 1874, the palace
enjoys an unparalleled view of Narendra Hill.

Ganjifa Artwork

Another captivating feature of this palace that we came across during our visit is the use of
Ganjifa Artwork, a Persian card game that became famous in the region in the early 19th
century. This art is intricately engraved on the walls and rooms of the palace exemplifying a
beautiful merger of art and history.

About the Owners: Lakham and Shraddha

Every revolution starts with a few people who dare to imagine a vision  and in the case of
Sawantwadi Palace, these individuals are Lakham and Shraddha, a young couple and part of
the royal family of Sawantwadi. They are known for their hospitality and creating beautiful
personalized experiences for their guests and tourists. We were struck by their warmth and
enthusiasm during our visit, which is a sign of their deep-rooted ties to the Palace.

Lakham was born into the royal family of Sawantwadi and the connection he had with his
heritage was very strong while still a young boy. On completion of his hospitality
management studies, he returned home to fulfill a dream of turning the palace into a
reputable destination. This way, he makes sure that guests have an opportunity to enjoy regal kind of hospitality that is famous for Sawantwadi through meticulous attention to every
detail.

Shraddha, affectionately known as the ever-smiling Princess of Sawantwadi, is not only
renowned for her cooking prowess but also for her advocacy of traditional art and craft
industries. Her culinary skills, honed through the use of local ingredients, have enriched the
palace menu, offering visitors a diverse array of Malvani and global delicacies.  Beyond her
culinary endeavours, Shraddha breaks societal norms with her radiant smile. In a culture
where women are often expected to maintain a reserved poise, her smile serves as a
powerful symbol of approachability and connection. It has enabled her to break barriers
effortlessly, fostering instant connections with the people of Sawantwadi. Indeed, her smile
is her superpower, bridging gaps and enhancing the cultural scene at the palace.

Our Experience

During our visit to the Sawantwadi Palace, we were we enjoyed leisure of slow life experiences , engaging in sky watch, birds chirping, spiritual mantras during our walks, swim by the pool at leisure, getting engrossed in museum and arts activities, playing games, reading books, walking by the lake and the cultural experience that the property offered.

Whether someone prefers a village lunch or a private meal in the centre of the Amboli ghats, everything is designed to showcase the region’s rich cultural legacy. With luxurious accommodations offering expansive views of the courtyard  Sawantwadi Palace provides a plethora of amenities for a journey that will never be forgotten. Guests can participate in workshops focused on culture, stroll around the beautiful surroundings, or just unwind by the pool.

Food

Another feature of this region is its food. During our visit, we were exposed to the rich local
flavours of Sindhugarh which offer a wide range of regional glimpses that are fit for the global
palette. Led by the owners and culinary geniuses, Lakham and Shraddha, the menu draws
inspiration from the Malvani traditional cuisine and international fine dining experiences to
satisfy your needs.

The palace offers dishes that have Western culinary secrets mixed with Sawantwadi flavours.
One such dish is the Sawantwadi Po’Boy, an ingenious combination inspired as much by
American as Asian eating habits. It has as its main ingredient a French roll bread that
contains rava prawn, Vietnamese pickles, and a hot sauce known as Sriracha; to crown it all
there is a dash of Thetcha butter for that local feel plus SolKadhi sauce.

The Sawantwadi Special Eggs Benedict has a fusion of coconut chili chutney, fried curry
leaves, and poached eggs on house-baked Croissant buns and served with classic
Hollandaise sauce.

The smallest things are given great attention at the Sawantwadi Palace. Although they are
never in your direct line of sight, the staff is always available. In a town like Sawantwadi, finding
this kind of understated friendliness combined with creative, unconventional cuisine was pleasingly
surprising for us.

Environmental Commitment

Today the world places significant importance on environmental awareness and sustainability;
Lakham and Shraddha are dedicated stewards of Sawantwadi Palace where they make an
effort to reduce the negative effects of this establishment on the environment. There are some
measures taken ranging from greenways to projects aimed at maintaining its original look.
Visiting the place makes us perceive how much those living there love the environment to the
extent of sacrificing anything they have including their happiness.

Guest’s Reviews

The Sawantwadi Palace has received outstanding reviews from visitors, who often highlight the
seamless blend of historical charm and modern luxury. Guests consistently praise the
welcoming atmosphere and the rooms adorned with local designs. Many appreciate the
exceptional hospitality, noting the attentive hosting by the royal family and the diverse menu that
offers a unique culinary experience. Visitors frequently mention the interactive Ganjifa art
workshops and the delectable thali, often calling it the best meal of their trip.

The preservation of heritage and the outstanding food, especially the 10-course meal, are other commonly mentioned highlights. Guests describe the palace as a must-visit, emphasizing the excellent
food, beautiful central courtyard, and the perfect blend of coziness and luxury. The thoughtful
restoration work by the royal family is also highly praised, along with the personalized service
and culinary delights. Many reviewers highlight the authenticity and rich taste of the food,
reflecting a consensus of exceptional experiences that make Sawantwadi Palace a highly
recommended destination for travellers seeking a royal retreat.

Conclusion

Our visit to Sawantwadi Palace has been a journey back in time, as history intertwines with
modern comfort. The palace has been carefully restored and Lakham and Shraddha are very
warm and friendly, making it a unique place to stay where their royal heritage is preserved while
giving an unforgettable experience for the guests.

Going forward, Sawantwadi Palace aims to enhance guest experiences through greater use of
sustainable practices and increased cultural content. Moreover, they want to enhance the status
of the local arts which include Ganjifa; additionally, new initiatives will be introduced to honour
Sawantwadi’s rich customs. They are also considering how best to make this palace greener so
that its beauty and past remain intact for years to come.

Sawantwadi Palace is committed to combining tradition and luxuriousness so that guests would
fully explore the royal legacy while enjoying top-class facilities. This continuity is embodied in its
exceptional dining options, enlightening cultural programs or tranquil surrounding environment.
Thus, Sawantwadi Palace remains an emblem of heritage and hospitality that invites tourists
into timeless retreats.

For more details : https://www.sawantwadipalace.com

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