Thursday 8 April 2010

Rajasthan's heritage hotels - A legacy of luxury

This is my first full-fledged photo feature that I did for Time n Style magazine's March-April issue. I visited the Jodhpur in 2008, after a gap of 5 years, and came across some incredible heritage properties, most of which are ancestral homes converted into hotels. It was a time when I began experimenting with my brand new Canon 400D. Here are the results:

An introduction:
Centuries have gone by, but Rajasthan has remained a mélange of rural heritage and urban culture. Join me as I make a royal appointment with some of the most beguiling heritage properties across this desert state...

Ajit Bhawan—tradition in a contemporary avatar
Formerly the ancestral home of late Maharaja Ajit Singh, Ajit Bhawan was the stepping stone that laid the foundation of the concept of ‘heritage hotels’ in India. Contemporary fittings such as a swimming pool, spa, shopping arcade and gym, coupled with intricate carvings, arched doorways and a fleet of vintage cars adds to the royal luxury they offer.

The swanky swimming pool, set against the backdrop of elaborate stonework depictive of traditional Rajasthani architecture is a clear reflection of the hotel’s contemporary fusion of ancient and modern.

 The portrait of a bejeweled prince and an antique chandelier, paired with plush furnishings and a spacious Jacuzzi adorn this luxury suite.

 A royal rendezvous is incomplete without a royal steed. With vintage classics such as 1948 Buick or a 1934 Ford, it may take a while to make a choice.

Fort Chanwa Luni—the haveli experience  
This magnanimous structure carved out of red sandstone is an epitome of sheer grandeur not only in size, but also its nature. Replete with ornate lattice work friezes, intricate jharokas, courtyards, towers, water wheels, stables, passages and rooftops with panoramic views, this grand fortress renders a rare imperial expedition. 

This open-air courtyard is a popular location for film and television shoots. The décor comprises a carved marble throne, marble statues, cane chairs and antique lanterns.

The rooms here capture the romance and grace of a bygone era with elements such as elegant four-poster beds, long flowing curtains, Rajasthani paintings made by local artisans, quaint lamps and ethnic furnishings.

This spacious courtyard hosts romantic candle-light dinners under the starlit sky, with the folk musicians serenading you with their soulful songs. 

WelcomHeritage Bal Samand Lake Palaceold world elegance
Built on the banks of Bal Samand Lake—an artificial lake that was used as a water reservoir to supply drinking water to the city—this hotel served as the erstwhile summer residence of the Maharajas of yore. This colonial red sandstone property is set amid 300 acres of sprawling manicured gardens, a marble cascade-shaped water fountain and a stepwell that marks the entrance to the lake.

This imposing structure laden with striking jharokas and stained glass window panels leads you towards the terrace that faces the Bal Samand Lake.  


The limited accommodation of just 10 luxurious palace suites complete with lavish furnishings, separate seating area, a viewing corner to glimpse at the lake and modern amenities such as a Jacuzzi make it even more enviable.

Rohet Garh—a hidden retreat  
With a visitors list that features names like Madonna, William Dalrymple, Bruce Chatwin and Patrick French, Rohetgarh was certainly doing a great job maintaining its secret getaway status…until now. Tucked inside the belly of a quaint little village called Rohet, Rohetgarh is a less obvious kind of heritage hotel. The simplicity of its structure on the outside and the grandiosity you’re welcomed with upon inside is reflective of its understated luxury.  

The 34 rooms are all individually decorated with hints of traditional Rajasthani paintings, murals in myriad designs splashed across the walls, stained glass windows, and furnishings bearing ethnic prints.

This room at the property takes you through a visual representation putting together pieces of a bygone era depicting the story of this ancestral home.

This inviting swimming pool—surrounded by four charming pavilions—is often transformed into a cosy evening as folk musicians enliven the ambience.


Fashion Bombay said...

wow gorgeous pics! congratulations :)

Unknown said...

Hey Ruchika,
this post is truly a feast for sore eyes! lovely photographs and equally engaging writeup describing the grandeur and the bygone era.
Congratulations on the magazine post:)
take care

Ruchika Vyas said...

Thank u so much Sonu and Nimish, really appreciate all the encouragement :)