A luxurious fort-hotel in Sapotra, deep in the interiors of Rajasthan
If you want to live like royalty, it is best to go to Rajasthan. Very few destinations can match the grandeur and luxury found in the royal residences-turned-hotels of this Indian state. Also, the state’s storied royal heritage ensures that there are a number of beautifully preserved or restored palaces, forts and havelis for travellers to choose from, so you go off the beaten track. There are hidden gems all over the state. The Ramathra Fort in Sapotra is one such.
Set deep in the interiors of Eastern Rajasthan, the Ramathra Fort is rural Rajasthan at its most luxurious. Set atop a hill, the well-preserved fort looks straight out of a children’s storybook. Ramathra was granted as a jagir (fiefdom) in 1645 AD to Thakur Bhoj Pal by his father, the Maharaja of Karauli. The name Ramathra honours Lord Rama, who is believed to have camped here while on his epic journey to Lanka. Today, Ramathra Fort belongs to Thakur Brijendra Raj Pal, a descendent of the founder, and his family.
This is wild and rough country. The four-hour drive from Jaipur acts as an introduction to the region—as you get closer to the Fort, the scrublands increase and human habitats recede.
But once you are within the fort’s ramparts, you are ensconced in the warm hospitality and the luxuriousness of old-world aristocracy. Inside the wide ramparts of the fort is a multi-storeyed palace, parts of which have been restored by local craftspeople using traditional techniques. The heritage building offers suites and deluxe rooms. The suites come with bedroom, seating area and a private terrace from where you can enjoy magnificent sunsets. The deluxe rooms open out onto an open courtyard. The grounds also feature six luxury Swiss tents that will make you feel like you are part of a shikar retinue of a maharaja of old.
Exploring the Fort, dining on the ramparts or enjoying the jacuzzi on the rampart are all outstanding experiences. The three-hour walking tour of the nearby Ramathara village is a rewarding experience.
Ramathra Fort lies near Bharatpur’s Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary and the famous Ranthambore Tiger Reserve. The closest wilderness area, Kailadevi National Park, is just 15km away. While the surrounding countryside is semi-arid, the Kalisil Lake is closeby and you get spectacular views of the Lake from the fort. You can go boating on this lake. The winter months are the best for a visit here. Water birds flock to the lake (many local species of birds are found here all year round). Over the years, the hill atop which the fort is located had suffered from deforestation. However, in recent years the area has been reforested and now is home to blue bulls and other animals! In fact, this is Daang country, a region of ravines and rough and scrabble scrublands that stretch as far as the Chambal River Valley in the East and Ranthambore in the South. Much of it is wild land, interspered with rural hamlets and farmland, and you can find deer, blue bulls, wolves, sloth bears, panthers and many other animals. A drive across this ancient land will be one of your most memorable experiences.
Price: Rs 12,000 to Rs 25,000
Read more: http://www.ramathrafort.com/
The Ramathra Fort is 350 years old and has been restored using local materials and local artisans and workmen. The Fort is on a hill that had suffered deforestation over the years. The hill has been reforested and is watered using the the recycled water of the Fort. The renewed forest has drawn back wildife and is now home to blue bulls and other animals. The hotel has its own farm at the foot of the hill and is organic. All the produce that is turned into meals for the guests comes from this farm or from local organic farmers. The staff are all locals. Through experiences like village visits and birding trips, the Fort showcases the local way of living, culture and ecology.