Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lost in the Palace of the Lost city

 I am generally not a fan of man- made wonders. But I was in South Africa recently and was overwhelmed by the incredible Palace of the Lost City in Sun City. This over-the-top creation is nothing but grandiose. You can stay busy in this man- made extravaganza for days.

I opened my windows to tribal- style cabanas and a swimming pool with a giant sun mosaic, water spouting out of seashells and waterfalls roaring from every corner. 

 The rotunda ceiling in the lobby with a jungle motif alive with animals and birds was created by five artists ‘in the same way as Michelangelo painted the Sistine chapel!

Stone lions and cheetahs stare from the rooftops, there are colonnades, gigantic chandeliers and soaring arches, wherever you look. The theme is based on a legend of a North African tribe which built its city here and which was destroyed in a volcanic explosion- a lost empire which was re-created out of the dry bush veldt.

The details astounded me: 6500 light fittings, 50,000 square metres of carpets, a table made from eight different kinds of wood costing 3. 5 million rand, tapestries woven by two women from Swaziland over two years and 3400 square metres of murals all creating a fantasy land of gargantuan proportions!

 This is the  most famous resident celebrity- a life- sized bronze model of Shawu, one of Africa’s most famous tuskers of the Kruger National Park re-created by the South African sculptor Danie de Jager. Shawu with his leathery skin and cracked feet had the most massive ivory tusks in Africa and died of old bullet wounds in 1982.

Mounds of cereals, luscious piles of fruits, quails eggs, cheeses that could feed a continent, a waffle station-the breakfast spread in the massive over-the-top Crystal Court, is fit for a king.

Looking down from the King’s Tower at the panoramic views of the resort, with its lush vegetation and water bodies, I find it hard to believe that it was a rocky near-desert plain twenty years ago.

We learnt to  Segway around the property, trying to balance and enjoy the views of the Gary Player- designed golf courses, one with leathery crocodiles sunning themselves in a pit at the 13th hole.

To taste raw Africa outside the resort we took a trip to  the 550 square kilometre Pilanesberg Game Reserve just outside the resort, set in the crater of an extinct volcano and even spotted the Big 5!

 Is the Palace brash and commercial? Yes..but it must be seen to be believed! Great for families with kids, as there are lots of activities that can keep them occupied.



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