The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Celeb birthday tied up in knots
- Liz and Arun check into Rajasthan palace amid marriage rumours

Udaipur, Nov. 5: Birthday bash today, marriage vows tomorrow. Sounds too good to be true' Maybe, maybe not.

Model and actor Liz Hurley and her NRI boyfriend Arun Nayar arrived here and disappeared behind the high walls of the majestic Devigarh Fort Palace. Outside, rumours swirled about the two, together for about two years, having chosen the 18th century heritage property in the Aravalli hills as the setting for exchanging wedding vows.

Tonight, the couple will celebrate Nayar's 40th birthday with friends and relatives and there have been reports that another party is slated for tomorrow ' what else can it be if not a marriage or at least an announcement'

Last night, the couple landed at Maharana Pratap Airport and drove straight to the boutique hotel, 30 km from here. Hurley's son Damien, from her previous boyfriend, and her mother Angela are also here.

During the day today, the couple was seen lounging at the poolside, had a swim together and nibbled at snacks. Damien has not been keeping too well.

Much of the time they spent doing what celebrities do ' play hide and seek with the media and change plans at the last minute.

'The two really wanted to call a press conference initially but have been put off by rumours of the slated wedding. So they chose to stay mum,' said a senior employee of the hotel.

Many of the suites of the hotel ' Devigarh Palace has 30 ' have been booked by the couple for their friends and relatives, numbering about 50.

'There are about 25-30 guests already in the hotel. Nayar's birthday was actually on the 3rd and it was just a get-together for some close friends,' said the hotel employee.

The hotel, with room rents starting at Rs 12,000 a day, is owned by G.P. Birla's daughter, Chandralekha Poddar. The most natural nest in the hotel for Hurley and Nayar is the Devigarh Suite, with a bedroom, sitting room and a private pool and terrace, costing Rs 22,000 a day, according to the rates posted on the hotel's website.

Nayar's relatives from Mumbai are believed to have come down for the party. India Hicks, Lord Mountbatten's granddaughter, was spotted in Mumbai apparently en route to Udaipur.

It was not known if the model, who was bridesmaid at Prince Charles and Diana's marriage (if proof is needed of her credentials as an A-grade celebrity, there it is), had come all the way from the Bahamas where she lives just to attend the birthday party of Liz's Indian love.

Businessmen Gautam Singhania, of Raymond, Jeh and Ness Wadia, of Bombay Dyeing, and socialite Parameshwar Godrej are the Indian friends of the couple who are said to be there. Whether they had actually arrived could not be confirmed as the hotel management has thrown a blanket of secrecy over the celebrity couple's stay.

At the airport today, a couple of chauffeurs from Devigarh Palace held aloft placards bearing the names of John Hart and Ashwani ' who bore a stark resemblance to Nayar and gave the media a slip by claiming to be a honeymooner from Israel.

The hotel management has arranged for Rajasthani folk music to be played during dinner. All ears will be cocked to catch the strains of the shehnai. But the trouble is it's not even clear if Nayar's divorce from his estranged Italian wife, Valentina Pedroni, has come through.

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