The town of Deogarh is often overshadowed by Jaipur and Udaipur, its famous neighbours. But for history buffs, a trip to the palace of Deogarh Mahal is a worthy expedition. Built in 1670, the palace was a bastion of the Rawats, one of the 16 feudal families of Mewar. Experience its many tales through an audio tour (INR 250 per person), which is open to non-resident guests as well. It is a lively exchange hosted by author-historian William Dalrymple and the late Rawat Nahar Singh II, a member of the Deogarh royal family. Through it, I learnt that the palace is said to be the inspiration for Jaipur’s legendary Hawa Mahal, commissioned by Sawai Pratap Singh, Madho Singh I’s younger son, who stayed in Deogarh as a boy to escape political intrigues back home. According to another legend, trained monkeys served as live fire alarms at the palace.
Later, I signed up for a jeep tour (INR 1,300 for two) around Deogarh’s vast, arid stretches, up stubby hills and past bullock-operated sesame oil presses. On my return, I relaxed around a bonfire in the central courtyard where the marble Deogarh throne is displayed. The bar is next door, but the stunning miniature paintings in the Chitrashala wing opposite had my attention.
One evening during my stay, I met Shatrunjai Singh, a striking storyteller and the younger scion of the Singh family that owns the palace. His tales of family lore, told around the courtyard fire, were mesmerising. The experience was enhanced by maans ka sula, a smoky local delicacy made from pounded lamb, marinated and skewered on charcoal. Long after the fire died, I retired to my room, feeling a bit like a royal myself. For me, Deogarh Mahal isn’t lost among the countless palaces of Rajasthan; I would gladly pick it of the lot again.
Appeared in the July 2014 issue as “Fabled Mansion”. Updated in January 2017.
Accommodation There are four categories of rooms at Deogarh Mahal, including 25 deluxe rooms (INR 8,500), an equal number of deluxe suites (INR 12,500), four royal suites (INR 15,000), and the exquisite Maharana suite (INR 25,000). While equipped with mod cons, the rooms retain the flourish of the palace, in the form of beautiful antique doors and knockers. Artefacts like lamps and old paintings adorn the walls and bedside tables.
Getting There Deogarh Mahal is 545 km/7 hours southwest of Delhi and 145 km/3 hours north of Udaipur, which is the closest airport. Hotel guides will escort guests from Deogarh town to the hotel property (02904-252777/3333; www.deogarhmahal.com).