Holiday time is synonymous with family time. So, when we decided to close 2021 on a merry note, we had our extended family joining us to make it merrier! As many know, Rajasthan has always been close to our heart for it has been our fountain of inspiration. The culturally-rich state has been influential in bringing most of our collections to life. Be it the Sheesh Mahal or The Taj Lake Palace, the sculptures, intricate fine artworks, and every little nook and corner of the prominent palaces, have made their way to our ensembles in our own interpretation of the monuments. However, this time around, we wanted to explore a fort instead of the palaces and what better than one of the pride-worthy forts of Rajasthan — the 232-year-old Alila Fort, Bishangarh.
The scenes at the airport as we were flight-bound was something similar to that of Home Alone, the iconic one. Baggage galore, family in tow and off we set to discover the marvellous fort. The property is nestled in the village of Bishangarh, which is six kilometres off the Delhi-Jaipur highway and can be easily reached by a car ride from the Jaipur airport. On arrival, we were all welcomed in traditional Rajasthani style, which gave us a glimpse of how our next three days would look like. The fort is a modern adaptation of the ruins that were found around the fort. However, the materials used for rebuilding it were traditional and locally procured, thus aligning with the hotel’s core value of sustainability. The entrance, arches, and windows with glass and lattice patterns were recreated with reused old pieces. The design has strong influences from the Rajput and the Mughal era, and is infused with plenty of elements of the Jaipur gharana (school [of]) architecture. A second look and you’d know the clear amalgam of the stark Spartan designs meeting the traditional Rajasthani elements. Sustainability is at the core of the Alila property. Right from reusing old traditional material to restore and renovate the fort to procuring local produce for all the meals, to having a list of CSR (corporate social responsibility) programmes for guests with an aim to give back to the villagers, the property ensures they adopt the best possible practices.
We started our day with a tour around the fort to take a closer look at the architectural styles and explore more of the 100,000-sq-ft property. If the tall walls of the fortification are grand and majestic, the chic and elegant interiors make you feel at home. The exceptional facilities at the fort make for an unforgettable experience. One cannot help but feel like a royal here. Next, we were greeted by the special meal curated by none other than chef Ranveer Brar, who aims to bring back the
traditional methods of slow cooking on open fire and in hot sand where food gets cooked in its own juices. The fare was simple yet artisanal and fresh — enough to fill our stomachs, hearts and souls.The remaining days were utilised in visiting the numerous restaurants at the property viz. Amarsar, the indoor specialty restro; Nazaara, that lives up to its name of providing breath-taking views; and Kachhawa Lounge, where you can have the best of the four Cs — champagne, coffee, Chai and cakes.
We were told that from all the unmissable experiences, we should make the hot air balloon ride the numero uno in our list. We didn’t think twice and readied ourselves in the wee hours to experience the fort and the village from atop. Taking a break from the land, we soared high in the skies and were left mesmerised by the lush green landscapes, the Aravalli Hills and the myriad colours of the morning sky. We took back a little piece of the sky in our memories when we landed back. After a morning on a high note, we decided to take the day slowly akin to the life the hotel inspires you to lead. Folk dances, traditional music, Rajasthani delicacies, and other cultural elements, dominated the rest of our day. On the last day, we decided to venture outside the fort and take the ‘Forgotten trail’ that takes one through the rich history of Bishangarh. The diverse flora and fauna make this experience even more immersive. At the end of the trail, we were escorted to the house of our chauffeur, where his family welcomed us and showed us their house. We settled at the terrace on the top that overlooked the bountiful mustard fields. What accompanied the views were cups after cups of Chai, and Rajasthani Snacks like Kadhi Kachori, Besan ka Pakora, Bajra ka Raap or Bajre ka Pua or Bajre ki Tikki. We let the sun set on our terrace party before we wrapped up and went back to the fort.
Three days, numerous experiences and plenty of pleasant memories later, we were back but we think this time around we truly left our hearts behind at the Alila Fort, Bishangarh.