As you approach Alila Fort Bishangarh from the main road connecting Jaipur and Delhi, you could be forgiven for assuming there is much ado about nothing.
The surroundings are beautiful, for sure. This far out of Jaipur (90 minutes to a couple of hours, depending on traffic), bustling street markets and majestic palaces are replaced by verdant pastural land, which spreads out on either side of the bustling freeway. Pocked with rolling green hills and little villages, this is rural Rajasthan in all its lucid, earthy glory.
It comes as quite a shock to the senses, then, to come upon Alila Fort Bishangarh in the Aravalli hills. Its imposing structure, after farmland for miles, is a site to behold.
The hotel is cloistered within the walls of a 230-year-old defensive fortress which took more than seven years to restore. The transformation is astounding and, in the vein of other Alila properties around the world, plays to a sense of indigenous authenticity, both in its sensitive design and its culturally relevant, off-the-beaten-track location.
Guests are encouraged to experience local village life, with workshops on pottery, carpet weaving and silversmithing available. The all-suite heritage hotel comprises 59 guest rooms – all uniquely designed – and is located in the fort which is built in to a granite hill with 360-degree views of the Rajasthan countryside.
There’s a separate structure below which houses an arrival pavilion, a sumptuous swimming pool, a kids’ club and a casual Mediterranean restaurant.
Another couple of restaurants are located within the fort including the all-day-dining Amarsar and the impressive Nazaara. At the latter, guests can enjoy delicious Rajasthan hunter cuisine cooked in traditional sandpits or over a live fire, while dining under the stars.
THREE EXPERIENCES TO TRY
Bishangarh is known for its unique style and exquisite workmanship of handmade silver jewellery, carpet weaving and pottery. Guests can experience a guided tour of the village, while meeting the locals and learning their crafts.
The warrior’s horse
Relive the era of the Shekhawati dynasty on a horse-riding adventure that takes you along a trail that traverses the local river bed of Bishangarh. The trail passes a 500-year-old Hanuman temple, culminating in a picnic lunch at an abandoned shelter.
Rajasthani Rasosda masterclass
Under the eye of the hotel’s culinary experts, master your skills in preparing a simple home-cooked Rajasthani meal. The chef will give you the recipe to take away and try at home.
From US$120 per night / alilahotels.com/fortbishangarh