Adventures of a Jewellery Designer - THE REAL HOTEL EXOTIC MARIGOLD

India always brings colour and adventure into my life. The latest recent adventure was filming a BBC2 documentary called the Real Hotel Exotic Marigold  in and around Jaipur. Inspired by the movie the Hotel Exotic Marigold, the BBC commissioned the TV Company TwoFour, to replicate the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel film, with a group of celebrities, in a series to be broadcast this January 2016.

The idea behind the series was to see if these celebrities could REALLY live here. As I am an ex-pat who has lived and worked in Jaipur for several years as a jewellery designer, I obviously know the reality of what it is to live there. I was asked  to talk to them about my life there and give them an insight into how it is to live here as opposed to visiting, which are two very different things.

Emma Chapman on her way to filming The Real Hotel Exotic Marigold Emma Chapman on her way to filming The Real Hotel Exotic Marigold

My favoured method of transport is in an auto with my trusty auto driver Billu, who knows every back street in Jaipur. So he took me to my first evening of filming with the celebrities . They were the singer Patti Labelle, actor Silvester McCoy, actress Miriam Margolyes,  news broadcaster Jan Leeming, dancer Wayne Sleep, celebrity chef Rosemary Shrager,  comedien Roy Walker and dart player Bobby George, and we all met at the gorgeous Bar Palladio  in the Narain Niwas Hotel in Jaipur.  It is a favoured ex-pat hang out, serves lovely italian food, hosts cultural events and is a centre for all of us to gather.

Hanging out at Bar Palladio Hanging out at Bar Palladio

Jan Leeming was particularly interested in what real life was like here, and over dinner I explained that as I have an apartment inside a delightful Royal Indian Family home,  I am very protected and mentored and  have a whole Indian social circuit, which transforms my life in Jaipur.  It means I get to go to amazing Indian weddings, birthday parties and celebrate the Indian festivals with them. And of course I have a maid and a cook which helps.  I love life here as I am constantly inspired for my creative work as a designer and have a great team of goldsmiths who I work with. Also Jaipur is an alladin's cave for jewellery designers as it is a major gem hub and trading centre for gemstones from all over the world.

I decided after I had met them for dinner, that to give them a special taste of  behind the scenes Indian life, I would invite them to an Indian birthday party. But this was no ordinary birthday party  it was for- the Maharaja of Karauli.

The cast assemble with the Royal Family on the steps of Bhanwar Vilas Palace The cast assemble with the Royal Family on the steps of Bhanwar Vilas Palace

The Maharaja of Karauli's family home is  Bhanwar Vilas Palace, which is in the town of Karauli. This fabulous palace is situated in the golden triangle of India and is in an ancient, devotional city. The ruling family are considered to be descendants of Lord Krishna. You can also stay here as the family have opened it up as a hotel. I would highly recommend it, as it is one of favourite places in India.  Full of charm and like stepping back in time. It is a gem of a place, with a stunning city palace in the centre of the town, which has some of the most amazing frescoes in all of India. I am very lucky as the whole family have adopted me into their lives.

So the celebrities arrived and much to their surprise and delight, were treated to feasts and dancing. But before the festivities started, The Maharani of Karauli, who deserves a nobel peace prize as an un sung heroine and  a tireless social worker, took me Rosemary ShragerMiriam Margoyles and Silvester McCoy, to one of the many villages she supports, where they met the villagers, and were able to talk to them about their lives and see the work she does there.

Entrance to Bhanwar Vilas Palace Entrance to Bhanwar Vilas Palace

 

After the village trip,  we came back and the nights events unfolded. Lots of the villagers came to wish the Maharaja happy birthday and the Maharani held court with the  ladies.

Ladies drinks with the Maharani of Karauli Ladies drinks with the Maharani of Karauli

As the night wore on the dancing started.  Because the Maharaja is the 888th descent of Lord Krishna, the celebrations were to honour Lord Krishna.

NIght time at Vilas Bhanwar Palace NIght time at Vilas Bhanwar Palace
Dancing at Bhanwar Vilas Palace Dancing at Bhanwar Vilas Palace
Palace dancing at Bhanwar Vilas Palace Palace dancing at Bhanwar Vilas Palace
Krishna Dancers at Karauli Palace Krishna Dancers at Karauli Palace

Jan Leeming, Patti Labelle, Rosemary Shrager and I all enjoyed the festivities

Emma Chapman with Jan Leeming and Patti La Belle Emma Chapman with Jan Leeming and Patti La Belle
Hanging out with Patti Labelle and Rosemary Shrager Hanging out with Patti Labelle and Rosemary Shrager

When the dancing  ended the banquet began. Patti Labelle sang for us and  Roy Walker told us some yarns. It was very magical and special evening enjoyed by all.

Maharaja of Karauli's birthday dinner Maharaja of Karauli's birthday dinner

The next day, we all headed back for Jaipur, and by then Jan Leeming was wanting to see my apartment, meet my landlady the lovely Sangeeta and get me to help her find some potential apartments to live in herself. So we spent the next couple of days doing that.

It all ended with a fabulous wrap party, in the magical haveli where they had all stayed. We had a rooftop, candlelit party, where  we were entertained  by the celebs.

All decked out for the BBC Wrap Party All decked out for the BBC Wrap Party

Wayne Sleep danced  a Bollywood number, for which he had been secretly practising....

Wayne Sleep in Bollywood Dance Mode at the Wrap Party Wayne Sleep in Bollywood Dance Mode at the Wrap Party

Rosemary Shrager, Jan Leeming and Patti Labelle attempted to re in act some moves and songs from the Three Degrees...

Rosemary Shrager, Patti Labelle and Jan Leeming entertaining us at the BBC Wrap Party in Jaipur Rosemary Shrager, Patti Labelle and Jan Leeming entertaining us at the BBC Wrap Party in Jaipur

A fabulous and fun party. The shooting had come to an end. Different celebrities had different experiences and views on India. You can watch them all and the story unfold shortly on BBC2 - the programme is called The Real Hotel Exotic Marigold and will be aired as a series in 3 parts, to be broadcast towards the end of January 2016.

To view Emma Chapman's jewellery you can visit her website

www.emmachapmanjewels.com

8 thoughts on “Adventures of a Jewellery Designer - THE REAL HOTEL EXOTIC MARIGOLD”

  • Annie

    Hi Emma, just read your blog - fascinating - sounds like you had a fantastic time sharing your world with all those celebs! Hope to see you in Jaipur - coming with Amanda in a couple of weeks. Annie xx

    Reply
  • Patricia Houlihan
    Patricia Houlihan 14th January 2016 at 11:11 am

    Dear Emma. Read your blog with great interest, What a time you had! Has Jan moved to Jaipur? Am planning a trip to Rajasthan including Jaipur this year. Looking forward to seeing you before then, but would appreciate any little tips you may have, and hope to see you there in December. Although it's not booked yet. When are you coming back to Hepzibah's.
    All the best
    Patricia (Houlihan)

    Reply
    • Emma Chapman

      Dear Patrica so glad you enjoyed the series. Jan has not moved to Jaipur but wants to come back to visit! Lots of tips, but you need to let me know more specifically what you are interested in. Not sure when I am coming back to Hepsibah. But will be in London soon.

      Reply
    • Emma Chapman

      So sorry to only be replying to this now - yes am returning to the Hespibah this week - Thursday till Saturday 11am-7pm every day so hope to see you. Jan has not moved to Jaipur but is still in touch xx Can give you some advice on India when i see you re your trip

      Reply
  • Kausher Hussein

    Just watched this episode! Mesmerised by your life! You radiate beauty on screen. Also Incredible jewellery designs, what a wonderful adventure you are on. If you could be so kind to provide me with further information on where to find these haveli apartments that would be great on my email. I have been Jaipur before and fell in love. Love and Light Kausher

    Reply
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