Tijara Fort, Rajasthan - live the royal life!

“What is maya?”, he asked us casually over a rather impromptu dinner after a riveting performance of local artists under the cool evening sky. Right after that he showed us a clip of me making a video that he recorded on this mobile phone and invited us to join him for dinner and conversations. As food continued to fill our plates, he gave us the story of Neemrana hotel and his life on the fly, and how he loved it because he was doing something he was passionate about. Yes, we were having dinner with Mr Aman Nath, founder of Neemrana Hotels and often rightly credited with pioneering the concept of heritage Hotels in India in the early 1990s with the first and flagship Neemrana Hotel.

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By the pool at Tijara Fort

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Early morning glow!

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Hawa Mahal

I think my love for exploring the heritage of India is rather obvious, and it’s that love that got me here. I was spending my weekend at the rustic beauty, Tijara Fort non-hotel, located in Rajasthan but just about 100km from Delhi. My stay was charming, and meeting Mr Nath himself was the icing on the cake. He even showed me a picture of his youth, and I almost saw my own image in that. Fascinating, and inspiring.

History of Tijara Fort

The present day fort is full of beauty and class, but the history of the fort itself is far more melancholic. Built in the Afghan-Rajput style with early colonial influence, the Fort was befitting a king and his queens, but was suddenly abandoned even before it was finished. But what exactly happened?

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Rani Mahal around sunset

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A exquisite window in Hawa Mahal...

Well, if you like the stories of kings and queens, you will love the story of Tijara even more. Of course, we need to go back a little - well a couple of centuries actually. Bakhtawar Singh was a king of the state of Alwar, and during one of his expeditions he fell in love with a beautiful Muslim girl Moosi. He made her his mistress, but they never got married. When the king died, she committed sati (burnt herself on his funeral pyre) and hence became a maharani. All this was fine, but she also had a son, Balwant Singh, and the son now became a contender to the throne. To avert any family feud, the land was divided between both the, now-legitimate, sons.

The new King, Balwant Singh, decided to build a new fort for himself and that’s how the idea of Tijara Fort was born. However, ten plus years into construction, Balwant Singh was murdered and his short-lived dynasty came to a sudden halt. Unfortunately, with his death the work on the ambitious Fort also stopped. The empire was absorbed by Alwar state once again, and no one gave much thought to the fort and it continued to be ravaged by nature as well as villages around who plundered it of most of its architectural wealth.

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Waitingf or my chai at Hawa Mahal...

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Morning belongs to the birds!

A century and half later, the Fort was resurrected from the dead by Neemrana. In January 2016 the hotel opened its gates to guests, and for the first time ever someone actually stayed in this flamboyant Fort.

The artful rooms

It’s not just the history and and unique design of the fort that’s interesting, it’s rooms are equally unique too - every single one of them. Each room has been designed by an artist, and a reflection of his/ her creative vision for the space. The rooms in Rani Mahal (Queen’s Palace) are all designed by female artists, while all the rooms in the Mardana Mahal (Men’s Palace) are designed by male artists. I room I stayed in was designed by Anjolie Ela Menon, and I must mention that her work truly made my stay memorial - imagine sleeping in a room uniquely designed by an artist. Marvelous indeed! And if art on the walls isn’t enough, the view from the room was simply to die for. I had never quite realised how beautiful Aravalis were before I saw the gorgeous sunrise from my bedroom window.

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Inside my room...

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Right outside my room...blissful! 

During my stay, another room in Mardana mahal was getting ready and I even had a chance to interact with the artists doing the room, Dev Chang and Ujjwal Prataap Singh. Hear what they had to say about it :)



Food at Tijara Fort

Typically food at all Neemrana hotels is simple and delectable. The best part - you can even get tawa roti (wheat, of course) with all your meals. Meeting the rather fit Dev and Ujjwal gave me a bit of a complex, and I ended up taking lots of fitness tips from them both. But, of course, the starting point of my new life was postponed from the coming Monday as I had binge-eat the desserts with every meal!



Pool  at Tijara Fort

Perhaps my most favourite part of the property was the rather large pool near Queen’s palace. I spent two entire evenings swimming and floating in the relaxing water, and would recommend it to all the guests who visit the fort. It’s truly an experience to float in the water looking at the beautifully lit Rani Mahal!



Things to do in and around Tijara Fort

Frankly speaking you can easily spend your weekend at the fort itself, but if you like exploring, like I do, you will love the place even more.

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The building in the center is Kaanch Palace - the palace for food :)

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Camels in love! :)

So this region of Rajasthan had a large Muslim population, but most of them migrated to Pakistan during partition in 1947. What they left behind are the numerous tombs and mosques, dating back to the days of India’s first Mughal king,Babur’s, son. Do stop by the Lal Masjid, and if you can, also climb up to the tomb for some great views around and below.

Practical Details

To reach: Tijara Fort is located at a distance of about 100km from Delhi, a little off the Delhi-Jaipur highway and near Alwar. The road is good till Tijara, but to reach the town you do have to cross the narrow and winding lanes of the village. The road which takes you up to the fort on the hill is also work-in-progress, and must be approached with caution. It’s not exactly ideal for a small car.

To book: you can book a room directly from Neemrana’s website. Click below to check rates and availability.

Neemrana Hotels

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That's me - have a fun filled time :)

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Disclaimer: I was at Tijara Fort on invitation of Neemrana Hotels. All views expressed are my own and based on my personal experiences

Comments

  1. There's so much history behind Tijara fort and I love it! I think the pool would also be the favourite for me as I love evening dips in beautifully lit pools.

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  2. I do like stories about kings and queens, so this place certainly catches my attention. It's interesting how you call it a non-hotel. Definitely a unique place to stay, and somewhere I'd love to visit someday. Food looks delicious. I would be binge eating too!

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  3. I love staying at hotels that have a story and the history of Tijara Fort seems fit for a movie. I'd love to wake up to those stunning views and end my day with a ship in that gorgeous pool.

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  4. What a gorgeous place to stay! Brianna (above) read my mind. Tijara Fort looks straight from the movies. I love the history of the fort and how it has been brought back to life. The artist designed rooms make for such a unique touch. But, you're so right about the pool. The backdrop of Rani Mahal is stunning. I'm not sure I'd be able to get out of the water!

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  5. Wow! This place looks absolutely incredible! I love history and adore the idea of staying in a fort. It seems like your own personal palace. Plus, that food looks so amazingly tasty!

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  6. Thanks for your sharing. Hope you can contribute more quality posts to this page. Thank you!
    flip diving

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  7. I love that this is a thing. I love kings, and queens, and knights, and just generally anything associated with that. The idea of being able to stay in a "fort" like hotel and still have all the nice modern amenities (such as the pool) would create the ultimate experience. Would definitely have to stay here if I was ever in the area!

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  8. That's a very interesting history of the fort. I really enjoy stories of kings and queens in the ancient times. I wouldn't want to be the queen then, though. I mean being sad and all about your king's death is okay, but to burn yourself too? I wonder if the Fort is cursed, what with the occupants dying and abandoning it. Mr Aman Nath seems to have done very well with it!

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  9. So much rich history and an incredible fort. Love the story of the ancient royal family and the drama. Out of it though this magnificent fort was created and has now been transformed into a stunning hotel. The pool looks amazing and it would be my favorite place as well.

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  10. What a fabulous opportunity to get to have dinner with Mr Aman Nath – he sounds like he’s done so much for preserving the cultural heritage of rajasthan with Neemrana Hotels.


    Tijara Fort is beautiful indeed – amazing that Neemrana has manage to resurrect it from the dead after having been pillaged by nature and plundered for resources by past villages. It’s quite incredible what they’ve done with it – the pool near Queen’s palace is stunning indeed – definitely screams of royalty!

    I would absoutely stay here, thankyou for introducing me to Neemrana Hotels!

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  11. What have you done!!! Next time, if you want me to read your article, please, do not include photos. Of course, it’s a joke. Seriously though, I love your photography. The colors, the composition, the subjects. I couldn’t stop browsing and wanted to see more. The window of Hawa Mahal is beyond beautiful - amazing artwork - it certainly benefits from long shadows and these terra-cotta colors. The next two photos look like oil paintings from the 18th century. The same dreamy landscape of the first one and the fleeting view adorned with columns of the second - fantastic. Thank you for making my day :)

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  12. Rajasthan is the only state which is still alive with the age-old Indian royal culture and tradition. This article really enlarges this tradition and nicely portrays the culture and tradition. There is really a wonderful history behind the Tijara fort.

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