That the grandeur of this thoughtfully designed heritage fort spellbinds you is one part. That the masterstrokes of acclaimed miniature artists Bagta and Chokha create an ever-inspiring array of art is another.
Deogarh Mahal, in all its fascination is layered with character. Each wall, staircase and piece of art has a story to tell.
Built in 1607 by Rawat (a term used for the brave) Dwarkadas, Deogarh was one of the few palaces that has withstood the test of time. The lore goes that the Rawats were a clever lot, having befriended the Marathas, who otherwise, were considered to be enemies. Hence it was never besieged or even attempted to. It was only in the 1990s that the Deogarh family decided to convert it into a heritage hotel, much to the chagrin of bats and pigeons who made it their home and had to be whisked away. An audio tour with acclaimed author-historian William Darlrymple and the late Rawat Nahar Singh II takes you through an exchange of intriguing facts and the Mahal’s history. Interestingly, the palace was an inspiration for Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, commissioned by Sawai Pratap Singh, who in his erstwhile days stayed at Deogarh.
Deogarh Mahal is a marvel. Each of the 55 rooms, is designed uniquely with a tapestry of old paintings, wooden accessories and an architectural nuance reminiscent of the finest eye. As I entered the Dwarkadas Chopad (room 216), I was greeted with a ‘jhula’ overlooking the garden. Talk about queens being serenaded by the chirping of the bird and the green of the swaying trees. The room in itself felt like a museum tour. The pattern of the tile, the archaic lamps, the sequinned quilts. So much to add to its beauty.
Meanwhile the Sheesh Mahal with a whimsical display of stained glass is a treat to the eye.
And while Deogarh nails luxury to the hilt, the a-la carte restaurant Surya Mahal and the magical terrace dining (Chandra Mahal) give you a taste of living life royally. The staff careful to ask about your preferences and taste goes on to show a keenness for guest satisfaction.
An area replete with lakes, Deogarh offers massive opportunity to enjoy a day out in the woods. As I went jeeping around to soak in the vistas, I couldn’t help but reflect on the simplicity of life here. Luxury in its truest sense is about being close to nature and reveling in its sights. And this, Deogarh falls not short of. As I picniced by Lake Mansoravar over a sunset, I couldn’t help but smile profusely.
Experiences at Deogarh also comprise of driving around in Vintage cars; the likes of the Jaguar 1962 and the Desoto. Meanwhile, the train ride lasting about an hour and a half is a quintessential way of seeing the countryside.
To those who want the calm of the lake all through, Fort Seengh Sagar, a boutique property of 4 rooms and an infinity pool is where you should head. Right on the lake, you can watch the peacocks dance and the hungry sheep feed on grass on the other side. Its seclusion makes it thoroughly enchanting.
A bastion of one of the 16 feudal families of Mewar, hailing Deogarh Mahal as a centre of excellence in thinking and architecture would be fitting. Not to mention the pure passion reflected in its existence as a luxury heritage hotel.