The camera rolled, I looked into his eyes. I leaned back for a pose and there it was….click!..He clicked the first picture of me in his throbbing way. For a brief moment I was transported into an era in which the swashbuckling princes wooed all those beautiful princesses.
Laxmi Vilas Palace is an unbridled fantasy in stone surrounded by lawns studded with bronze sculptures, large marble vases, and strutting peacocks. The royal abode, commissioned by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad is an amalgamation of turrets and towers, stone screen balconies, filigreed arches and columns, domes and wondrous pillars. It is an audacious blend of Indian and European architectural style. The palace has sprawling grounds and a well maintained golf course. I was astounded by the quality and effort put in to maintain this largest private residence in the country and a palace and ground that till date is larger than the total area of Buckingham Palace itself.
I met Kris at this place 4 years back with love so rare, with emotions so pure and with a fairy tale that I had hoped would come true in the rarest of times where Tinder and other online dating websites have taken over the world, where the belief in true and childlike love seems just like a promise and where relationships are losing the meaning of longevity and commitment. But, in this world full of chaos, in this very marvelous palace, I discovered that even though you might have had past relationships, one night stands, failed relationships that broke you, with that one single standing piece of light and hope, love can even be found in the darkest of times when not a prince but an angel comes in disguise to sweep you off your feet.
Each Valentine’s Day since 2015 is always special because all out first moments special took place on this day.
First meeting, first kiss, first hug and even our first date!
Vadodara made sure we met and expressed love to its fullest because I always believe that you need to have faith and believe in love to find that one person who means savage and affection both to you.
In this ever fumbling world of chaos I am so happy to have found a solace to love, care, argue and live life on our own terms.
Moving on to the first day…. As we both explored the palace on foot I was taken aback by the passageway that led us to a fountain rimmed with bathing maidens. The flamboyant trimmings and decor around us exuded a sense of balance and elegance. We both were mesmerised by the armoury, the beautifully crafted swords, bejewelled daggers, muzzle loaded pistols and a plumed peacock which was the place where he caught my hand for the first time and we walked hand in hand towards the archway. The feeling of walking in a palace on a first date with only both of us in the hallway was not less than a step close to heaven. At first, Kris seemed really shy to make all the first moves but eventually he got the idea that I am comfortable with his touch and at a point in the golf lawn he even grabbed me by the waist for a picture. That was the beginning of an auspicious life long romance to come by.
In the opulent Darbar Hall Krissy boy got bored as I kept blabbering about the history of the Gaekwads and what all historical moments of significance would have taken place in that grand hall as history is one of my favourite subjects. I love delving deeper into the life that our Maharajas and Maharanis might have pursued and led. He seemed least interested in the data and finally said, “What would these Belgian stained-glass windows and large crystal chandeliers do, and what purpose do they serve?” … That was the beginning of a serious conversation between both of us and we went on to have a healthy debate on our very first date itself. This was the moment we realized that we both have completely different views about the world, but respecting each others opinions is what mattered the most. An individual thinks as he or she is brought up and as his or her brain functions and that gave us immense respect for each other because we knew that even though we might have an argument, our personality and individuality would never be compromised.
It was in this palace itself that I found out that Kris was an amazing photographer, he was a patient person, a very excellent artist that understood the knicks and knacks of architecture, a thorough gentleman, a caring and obedient boy and most of all a very different and angelic lover!
This palace proved to be a setting, alive with intrigue, tragedy, love, joy, the backdrop of bitter-sweet memories, the romantic hallways and archways, the magnificent fountains and gave us the authority to express love and our opinions freely and casually. As I ponder back to that day where we even hugged each other for the first time, I realize that time moves on but places never fail to express nostalgia in their own right. Laxmi Vilas Palace will always be special for the stepping stone in another chapter of life…
Happy Valentine’s Day to all the lovers out there……
Stay tuned for the next blog on my last travel during my pregnancy!!
– Rucha Sudhir Khot