‘Create a Life you don’t want a vacation from’ – a beautiful quote , isn’t it ? Though the Life takes suo motu control over most of the happenings around us on most occasions ,while vacationing however, most of us feel as if we are calling the shots and that too in such a way that happiness & excitement escalates exponentially .
Continuing the travelling spree therefore , here I am sharing another wonderful travel experience that I had recently , this time with a Vintage feel to it .Here we go :
Usual Thursday evening, as clock read 6:45 pm , I returned from the office with a single most important agenda on my mind – to find a nice weekend getaway immediately . I straightaway switched on the Laptop, searched the web for best places to visit near my township and after few thoughts,zeroed in the Neemrana Fort Palace . As I proceeded with the bookings, my excitement met a road block as Neemrana Fort Palace was jam packed for Saturday night and despite my every effort to find an inventory on any of the travel portal , I failed to find a vacant room for Saturday night. While it was disappointing but at the same time , my excitement grew further to visit the destination which gets overbooked so early.But such is the addiction that I and my family has for travel that after lots of permutations & combinations , backed by discussions with Nishtha,my wife , we decided to extend our weekend a little by applying leave for Monday to make sure that visit to Neemrana is not postponed .Hence , Sunday night stay booked !!
After a comfortable drive of about 2 hours , we reached our targeted spot . The moment we entered the property, we knew it’s gonna be fun and it’s gonna be different experience this time thanks to the whole vintage ambiance. A beautiful 15th century fort was standing right in front of us ,welcoming with open arms into the world of royalty -that of The kings & The Queens.
Somewhere around 1:10 pm, as we reached the reception desk, a gentleman name Mr. Manmohan greeted us with a smile and he made sure that all the paper work formality gets completed quickly . What fascinated me was the name of the rooms, each one of which was unique & well thought of . We were assisted to our Room,Meru Mahal, by another polite person, Mr.Malkhan Singh, who has been employed with the Neemrana Managment for more than 20 years and hence obviously knew every nook & corner of the fort.Though it was little uncomfortable because of scorching heat of the sun, but live commentary by Malkhan Singh ji about history associated with the Neemrana Fort made sure that we had a pleasant way up to our room.
Well let me introduce you all to the Palace a little .Neemrana Fort palace is a 15th century fort ,about 128 km from New Delhi (on Delhi-Jaipur Highway) which was owned by the his highness Raja Rajinder Singh Ji before it was acquired by Sh.Aman Nath ji around 1986.At the time of acquisition, the Fort was in a very bad shape with few portions of the fort almost in ruins (as can be seen in old photographs hung at Hawa Mahal besides other areas).While it is very common today to find a Royal Palace converted to a vintage hotel but to have this vision way back in 1986 is really commendable. The restoration work of the palace commenced immediately and eventually , Neemrana Fort Palace -The Vintage yet Luxury Hotel opened it’s door in 1991. Sh.Aman Nath Ji was later joined by Mr.Francis Wacziarg who then together went on to create Vintage luxuries all over India , under the name of their flagship venture – The Neemrana Hotels.
Without using any jugglery of words, lets straightaway take a pictorial ride of the beautiful Neemrana Fort Palace first, before I put down the nutshell review followed by the final verdict : (Read in the order- Title followed by the photographs )
1.That’s the enchanting view of the Neemrana Fort Palace which greets you right at the start.However, whether you like it or not , whatever you see in the photograph below is all newly constructed and was not the part of original Fort, even though every effort has been made to make sure that vintage feel is not lost even in the newly fabricated section. Here I would really like to appreciate the honesty with which the staff of Neemrana Fort Palace themselves inform all the tourists,very loud & clear, that which part is Original Royal legacy and which one is not, instead of hiding or pretending something.But hey don’t get disappointed , for not everything is new here .Watch out for next photograph
2.Alright so that’s the Vintage part that they have managed to retain & maintain. I obviously mean the building in the background only as the lady in the picture is of-course my better half Nishtha 🙂 🙂
3. Can you see the pool with the Lotus here ? That’s the area where the festival of Holi was celebrated by the progenies in the presence of the honourable King & the honourable Queen.It’s a beautiful sitting area now .Just look at the tables & chairs here,they are all new but painted that way to maintain the old world charm.
4.The Open theater where tourists enjoy remarkable folk dance & other performances every Saturday .Heard great reviews about these performances but unfortunately, we missed the chance to witness the talent exhibited here as we checked in on Sunday .
5.Flower gallery unleashing the beautiful rustic looks of the courtyard.
6. Favourite spot of one & all – The Pool Area. To add to the smiles, there are two pools within the property .The one in the first photograph is at a greater elevation & is meant for adults while the latter one,located right below the restaurant named Jalgiri , can be enjoyed by both the kids & adults alike.
7.Originally a sacred area,where prayers & havans were performed during the tenure of the honourable King, it still maintains it’s sanctity thanks to the Shivlings. I was told that Sh.Aman Nath ji is an ardent devotee of Shiva which explains the presence of the Shivlings and the Nandis in the palace.
8. That’s Hawa Mahal ,the snacks corner where you can enjoy various delicacies.We had an all vegetable Pizza, Pasta (which were actually dimsums wrapped in the gravy of pasta & not the pasta we know ) & spring rolls along with Mocktails. Pizza ,I tell you was superb and the stand out dish. Definitely recommended.You may skip the Dimsum/pasta though.Besides ,complimentary evening tea is rather a good excuse for Guests to mix up with each other .
9.As the dusk sets in , the fort starts illuminating like a beautifully dressed up bride. Ah ! Beautiful it looks . Night’s view of glittering Neemrana Fort Palace alone gives you value for the money that you have spent & that’s why I have dared to repeat this very photograph.
10. On days other than Saturdays, a folk music performance is organized by the management in the open area right outside the Hawa Mahal.We enjoyed the mesmerizing Rajasthani Folk music while having the light on stomach salads.You can enjoy alcohol too for there’s a bar in the vicinity of the performance area.
11.While there at the Neemrana Fort Palace,I came across a number of things which show the sincerity with which the detailing has been done to create that ever so beautiful Vintage aura :
a) We stayed at Meru Mahal which was fairly large with all the basic facilities .Best part was it’s balcony (photographs below) with a wonderful view around.You can enjoy watching people doing Zipline from the balcony itself.
b) Another room which will give you an idea of detailing that has been done and thought process that has gone into each room is Gajendra Mahal . Theme here is of course “Gaj” i.e. Elephant and hence from door entrance to bed sheets to wall hangings, everything relates to the elephant in a very elegant pattern.
c) Please have a look at the pose of Father – Son duo below before going forward.My Indian friends would have easily guessed, Yes that the Famous Amitabh Bachhan’s “Haiyeen” pose and the reason for this pose here is that this is the room, Chandra Mahal , where the superstar himself stayed while shooting for the Movie Major Sahab at Neemrana Fort Palace.
This takes us to the very important part of this write up – The Review & The Verdict .
Ok , so we have talked enough of the positives by now but then nothing can be flawless and hence , lets go down the other lane too to have a look at the things which need little improvement/value addition :
a) Dinner Served at Jalgiri Restaurant : Well the Main course options in the dinner were too limited.Though quality of food was good however , going by the usual standards of such Luxurious properties and the price charged, supper should have been more sumptuous and varied .
b) Area lightening : Area Lightening within the fort should be reinforced , especially in the immediate vicinity of various rooms. For instance,it was pretty dark near last flight of staircase leading to Meru Mahal.
c) Sign Boards : There should have been enough sign boards on the approach roads for a property of this stature but they were missing and without GPS , it would be a tough task to locate the Palace.
d) In-House Magazine : A property of this scale must have an in-house Magazine or something which should cover fascinating stories of Guests as well as that of the staff who have been associated with the management since long .These stories will give an immediate glance of the hospitality & culture maintained by the Neemrana Team inside their Hotel premises.
e) Reception Area : A chandelier here & a wall texture there, with a work of art hanging on the wall and another one standing in a corner ,everything backed by a beautiful carpet or wooden flooring, can do wonders to the aesthetics of current reception area.
The Final Verdict :
Definitely & strongly recommended ,for it’s an altogether different experience staying at Neemrana Fort Palace, thanks to their wonderful team which strongly stand by the tag line of Neemrana Hotels – “non-hotel Hotels” , for they make you experience the Luxury in a very informal & homely way.
Travel Tip :
Tip : Plan your trip on a pleasant summer day or in winters .Don’t plan just a lunch and evening return.You will be disappointed because one needs to spend at least one night to get the feel of this property which lights up like a queen as the darkness roars.
Evening performances are icing on the cake.Plan for a Saturday because of theater performances (which we unfortunately missed as we checked in on Sunday). Besides , have a good roam around various parts of property instead of confining to your own room & dining area !
To the Readers : On this note , I would take your adieu with few more random shots clicked at Neemrana .I hope you find this review worth a read. Would really love to hear your feedback in comments section ! Namaste & take care !
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P.S. : I Would like to thank the whole Neemrana Fort Palace Team , in particular Mr.Manmohan , Mr. Shurveer & Mr.Malkhan Singh for helping us in touring the entire Palace with live description of wonderful history behind various specific areas.