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Destinations · Asia · india · Rajasthan · Where to sleep · Crème de la Crème

Neemrana Fort-Palace, Neemrana

Author: Anothertravelguide.com0 COMMENTS

There is one thing you should really try: do arrive at night or at least as twilight is already setting in. You are driving the dusty winding streets past hunchback cows, women in colourful saris balancing jugs with water from the only well in the village on their heads, countless roadside shops selling literally everything, past gypsy women who have adorned themselves with 5-7 kilos of silver jewellery, and all of a sudden all the friendly conversations stop mid-sentence. The sight is truly incredible: a lit-up fortress at the top of the village - the ultimate 1001 Nights experience.
Neemrana is the ideal point of departure for your Rajasthan trip. It is an approximately two hour drive from Delhi - a small village with a single major landmark, a 1464 fortress converted in the late 1990s into a hotel. The only tourists in the vicinity are the ones staying there. The first thing you will think of is a medieval town: countless lanes (the fortress is arranged in ten levels), staircases, tiny passages, courtyards and terraces. The latter play a special role in the architecture of the fortress, being strategically built to offer a view of the village or the surrounding fields. Like most of the converted fortresses in Rajasthan, Neemrana Fort-Palace is privately owned. The unique renovation project has won countless awards; it was also one of the first to start the so-called heritage hotel trend and now has hundreds of followers all over India. The fortress was rebuilt from ruins (in 1947 the façade collapsed), and yet it has lost nothing of its original authenticity. The rooms (there are 45 of them) are designed in a blend of the tradition Indian and the British colonial styles. If you are staying there, don't try to save money: go for a room with a balcony and a terrace. And do try to memorise the maze of passages that lead to your suite - on the other hand, you are sure to get lost anyway. And that's only natural; in this case the layout of rooms is adapted to the geography of the fortress, not the other way round. In this way the quite un-hotel-like authenticity of the place is made even more intense. At night it's fun to sit on the terrace watching the local monkey family going about their business on the opposite wall. Daddy is the size of a well-nourished first-grader and fiddling so skilfully with the window handles that you can't help but think: I hope I didn't leave anything lying about. There are no phones or TV sets in the rooms - a genuine time warp. The only downside is a totally silly quirk of the service here: both lunch and dinner are available only as a buffet, and that's a really nasty fly in your ointment of fantasies about a romantic meal on your terrace with a view of the Rajasthan Desert (which actually begins at your feet). The nine-storey deep 18th century aqueduct is also worth a visit; it is a 15-minute walk from the hotel and used to be the only source of water in Neemrana. By the way, water here can be accessed only in the depth of 60 metres, at the foot of the fortress hill, and has to be pumped 240 more metres up to meet the needs of the guests.

Rates: INR 2500-6000

Neemrana Village, District Alwar, 301 705 Rajasthan

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