Taragarh Palace , Palampur | The Royal Lunch!

Dining Hall - Taragarh Palace
Dining Hall – Taragarh Palace

Okay, so here’s the confession. Yes, I am a sucker for “quaint little places”.

Or anything heritage/ vintage.

There was a time, when my friends would call me ‘Kabadiwali’, as I would collect old coins, letters, photographs or anything from the past. So naturally, I was way too excited to go to the royal and historical Taragarh Palace in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh.

Located at the foothills of Dhauladhar Mountains, Taragarh Palace gives you a beautiful view of snow-capped peaks.

Bought by the Royal Family of Jammu & Kashmir in 1951, this palace became the house of Maharani Taradevi, wife of Maharaja Hari Singh. Today, it is serves as a heritage hotel, that offers a wide range of services and modern amenities, including a majestic multi-cuisine dining hall that serves various delectable cuisines.

On the day we were supposed to visit Palampur, we literally jumped out of our beds in the morning and left in a jiffy. My siblings and I had started loving the drives in and around Dharamsala. With lush green mountains and country music for company, the drive from Dharamsala to Palampur was smooth and pleasant.

We reached the palace in 2 hours and were welcomed by a carpet of lush green gardens. The trees and flowers, kissed by fresh showers exuded a sweet fragrance, that makes city dwellers swell with joy and I felt equally overjoyed.

We entered the restaurant and were greeted by the beautiful royal setting and a warm and efficient staff. The golden and maroon artifacts, the portraits of the royal family and the vintage furniture took me back in time. The spacious restaurant, the huge chandeliers, open windows were beautifully mesmerizing. Even though this section was constructed much later, it had all the ingredients of royalty.

Last few days, I had been eating at various cafes in Mcleodganj and missed chapatti and daal. To my delight, we were served delicious Himachali food, made fresh to order. The food takes a minimum of half an hour to arrive, which gives you some time to explore the lovely property.

We had ordered for traditional Himachali dishes, Khatta Meat and Telia Maah with rotis, fresh lime and cold coffee.

Khatta Meat - Taragarh Palace
Khatta Meat – Taragarh Palace

And as the food arrived, the fragrance of the dining hall changed. The aroma of ginger, spices and mustard was too enchanting and inviting. One look at Khatta Meat, could make anyone go weak in the knees. The tender, hot and meaty pieces of mutton, cooked with tomato, onion and anar dana (which makes it khatta, sour) were finger licking good. The thick tangy curry of the meat, was garnished with chopped ginger and served with roti, pickles and onions. This was truly a treat, that I will always cherish.

Telia Maah, is one of the main dishes in Dhaam, traditional Himachali feast served during holy and auspicious ceremonies. It’s mustard flavoured Urad (lentils) cooked in mustard oil and chilli. Garnished with ginger, this daal definitely had a strong pungent flavour of mustard. Normally people might find it unusual, however, having lived in Kolkata, I loved this preparation.

Telia Maah - Taragarh Palace
Telia Maah – Taragarh Palace

We were also served a bowl full of pickles, however, the daal and mutton were so delicious and distinct in flavour that we never needed them. And that always is a testimony to good flavours and spices.

Khatta Meat Telia Maah Roti - Taragarh Palace
Khatta Meat Telia Maah Roti – Taragarh Palace

The bill came around to be Rs. 1400.

I think we also relished this food so much because after having pizzas, momos and salads for days, we were having simple daal roti – our staple food.

We then took another tour of the palace, admiring the beautiful pictures of the Royal family, the rooms where once the Maharani lived, the vintage Louise Vuitton suitcases and trunks, the swimming pool and badminton court and numerous other luxuries which one can only desire for. The beautiful corridors lead us to the porch, where Rockstar (a Bollywood movie starring Ranbir Kapoor) has been shot.

After a long leisurely day at the palace, it felt like a dreamy chapter from the diary of a princess.

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