I see a rainbow sprawled across the canvas of the clear blue sky through my car’s windscreen. Stretched out in all its glory, it perks me up instantaneously. I am on my way to jüSTa Lake Nahargarh Palace, in Rajasthan’s Chittorgarh district, and the seven-coloured band seems like a good start to the journey.
As I enter the narrow bypass on the Chittorgarh highway, my surroundings turn increasingly tranquil. I feel like I am leaving the world behind, one kilometre at a time. The raspy grind of speeding cars faints, making room for the shrill calls of birds. Gliding with practised routine, they put up a stupendous aerial show. Little children, eating corn straight from the fields, wave at me gleefully, trying to race with my car as I inch closer to my destination.
Finally, I see the hotel’s pristine white facade. It stands in the middle of an expansive man-made lake in which bobs a solo boat, waiting to ferry guests. I hop on. The hotel’s high-ceilinged lobby, though not as grand as the facade, doesn’t fail to impress. A gargantuan glass chandelier commands attention, as does a painting of Chittorgarh Fort mounted on the main wall in the reception. What catches my eye, though, are two chairs, carved out of silver and wood, one is placed in the lobby’s centre and the other to its right. Almond-eyed, sharp-beaked, the “antique bird-chairs”, owner Ashish Vohra tells me, were sourced from Gujarat.
Marvelling here, I realise, can become a norm, because there is plenty to ogle at. Rajputana rifles, six of them, are arranged neatly on one wall; silver daggers occupy another. Then there are antique-looking wooden almirahs, and sculptures of peacocks, horses and that of a purposeful-looking eagle, its metal wings ready to take flight any moment.
The walk between the lobby and my room throws up more art. In the five years since its opening, the hotel has amassed an enviable collection—a total of 500 paintings, from both Indian and international artists. “They are all signed works,” Vohra remarks, walking beside me. “We have made a conscious effort to support artists… it gives an interesting character to our hotels. Plus, our customers are very happy to engage with art.”
I agree. Viewing a range of paintings, from local architecture to landscapes and portraits, with some abstracts thrown in, is an immersive, reflective experience in the serene silence of Nahargarh.
Rainbows are regular here: I see a second one right outside my room’s window. This one was more like a guest appearance, though, because soon enough, the sun slid behind the mammoth mountains that constitute the Aravalli Range. Photographers call this the magic hour, when the light is perfect—soft and romantic. Instinctively, this is when I grab my cell phone to frame my views—the mountains, the lake, and the solitary boat. Instagram feed. Check.
Later in the evening, after some aimless strolling, I decide to sink into a chaise lounge by the infinity pool which overlooks the lake and the corn fields beyond it. Dunking pakoras in masala chai—or sipping champagne—couldn’t have found a better setting. I settle for chai, though. For two reasons: one, it’s still early in the day, and two, I’d rather preserve my appetite for a traditional Rajasthani meal I am about to dig into in a few hours. Gatte ki sabzi, mirchi ka saalan, and mix dal, all rustled up so well, make me eat more than I had prepped myself for. Non-vegetarians will love the lal maas here.
Sluggish after the ghee-rich meal, I decide to walk some more. That is when I stumble upon my favourite artwork. It’s a collection of 10 contemporary miniatures by Kolkata artist Avijit Mukherjee. Inhering modern forms and colours, the paintings depict all things typical to Rajasthan. Turbaned, mustachioed men dressed in horse-costumes are engrossed in a Kachchhi Ghodi folk dance. Ghagra choli-clad women, looking gorgeous in chunky neckpieces, go about their chores.
I leave the corridor with a strong taste of Rajasthan in my mouth; the meal and miniatures were both abundantly flavourful.
Accomodation Lake Nahargarh Palace has 40 rooms (35 deluxe rooms and five suites), which cost Rs5,500 and Rs7,500 respectively for double occupancy and breakfast, excluding GST. The rooms can accommodate two floor mattresses, at an extra charge of Rs1,500 per person. The decently sized bathrooms come with tubs.
The hotel is also suited for destination weddings because of its large lawn and an in-built stage. Rajasthani style windows, chhatris, and pastel drapes and curtains at the doors and entrances, add to the charm.
Getting There Lake Nahargarh Palace is a 45-minute drive from Chittorgarh city, in Parsoli village, on the Chittorgarh-Kota highway. Chittorgarh is well connected by train from both Mumbai and Delhi. The nearest airport is Udaipur, 150 kilometres away. Taxis are easily available from the airport. The hotel also provides pick-ups.
Riddhi Doshi is a Mumbai-based freelance journalist, and dance and movement therapist. When not writing, she can be found dancing, chatting up strangers, soaking in some art and culture and hugging trees.