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Heritage Haven

Staying in the Noor-Us-Sabah Palace, a magnificent heritage hotel and the first to convert Madhya Pradesh’s heritage tourism policy into reality, was an unforgettable experience, reveals Reema Sisodia who is awe-struck by the grandeur of such heritage sites

Placed perfectly in the very heart of India, is the state whose name says it all, Madhya Pradesh. Mystical, magical and majestic, a region unique in its spread, opulent in culture and heritage, Madhya Pradesh takes the lead of being the first state in the country to announce its very own heritage tourism policy.

With a wealth of heritage sites spread across the length and breadth of this huge land area, living in such magnificent heritage hotels is an experience in itself. Providing all the required support and the needed ingredients to convert these unique heritage abodes into living realities, is the Department of Tourism, Government of Madhya Pradesh, whose efforts have resulted in transforming this region into a heritage habitat.

Living in one such abode, especially that which first accepted the heritage policy and converted itself into a dream property, was indeed a mesmerising experience. “Ushering in a new era of old world hospitality” is what the Noor-Us-Sabah Palace proudly states. It emerges as one of the few successful attempts in the region to restore and protect the glorious heritage of the past where the traditions of Bhopali tehzeeb is still maintained. The palace, built in 1920 and whose name means the ‘the light of dawn’, is reputed to be the best residential palace of Bhopal state. Built over 18 acres, the white palatial building re-creates the grandeur of the bygone eras.

Positioned at a vantage altitude in the city of Bhopal, it captures a splendid view of Bhopal Lake. With tastefully maintained surroundings, manicured gardens, coupled with architecture that still reflects the aura of the regal era, this palace, which is now a WelcomHeritage Hotel, reflects a unique charm. If you want some more pampering, then opt for the ‘traditional royal welcome’ and arrival offer. At some additional cost, the offer comes with a lot of ‘style’. This Bhopali style welcome commences from the airport itself. Men dressed in traditional Nawabi attire receive you at the airport, from where you are escorted and driven down by pilot vintage jeeps, carrying the Bhopal estate flag.

As your fleet enters the palace, it is escorted by horses on either sides, along with the beating of drums, till you reach Istakhbal (main porch). A welcome ceremony with flowers and garlanding, coupled with a welcome drink in the Mahman Khana, gives this experience an additional flavour. But with this traditional touch and ambience, the property has all the facilities and services for the corporate of this era.

Conference and banquet halls, business centres, club lounge, with all the five-star amenities makes it an ideal business venue. Restaurants that offer speciality cuisine are a treat in themselves. Check out the sunset Bar-be-que lake-facing open air restaurant, it has an extraordinary aura attached to it. A walk along the cascade (the central courtyard) and a visit to the palace museum are experiences that leave a lasting impression of this splendour called Noor-Us-Sabah Palace, a property which has made the state’s heritage tourism policy a living reality.