Arriving at this converted palace hotel, nestled in the Aravalli hills, I’m struck by the stillness of the surroundings. A line of mountain peaks dominates the landscape, with dense vegetation and quiet countryside spreading out from their base. The 18th-century fort-palace rises amid this serene backdrop, allowing for dramatic vistas that seem almost framed and fleeting glimpses of village life.
I wander about the palace’s succession of courtyards, gardens, and terraces, one boundless, sun-drenched space leading to the next. Playing along as maharaja and queen is not only tempting; it’s the sensible thing to do, I deduce. A wooden swing invites me to pause; the play of light and color in the Sheesh Mahal, a hall of mirrors and faded frescoes, encourages rumination.
The palace’s tranquility is interrupted only by birdsong — I listen and watch for parakeets, kingfishers, and egrets hanging around the bushes of red frangipani and jasmine. As for the 39 guest rooms, white marble spans interiors like a blank canvas on which brilliant splashes of color erupt in the form of pots of floating marigolds or emerald green accents.
Elegant jharokhas, or sitting nooks, make the act of lingering — over a cup of tea, a book — feel mandatory. Guests are surrounded by subtle nods to the unhurried palace pace. It’s hard to imagine that such a place could ever have been falling apart. But that’s how Devi Resorts’ Anupam Poddar and his mother, Lekha, found it.
Restoring and renovating the crumbling palace became a labor of love, a painstaking project that spanned over a decade. When it reopened as a heritage hotel in 2000, Devi Garh’s design aesthetic — Rajput palace exterior, minimalist-contemporary interior — was heralded as both bold and seamless. Indeed, the idea is that past and present meet and mingle here.
Even on my plate. Dishes such as cumin-corn soup and grated white pumpkin kofta are surprising and inventive, without giving up that sense of place. Regional specialties such as kaer sangri, berries cooked in buttermilk with coriander, and missi roti, an Indian flatbread made with whole wheat and gram flours, are prepared with equal sophistication.
After dinner, I move on to the gorgeous veranda bar, awash in rich, brocade textiles — a stunning setting for sipping champagne and gazing out onto the moonlit landscape. The twinkling of lights in the distance could be mistaken for stars — if they’d fallen from the sky, that is. It’s this kind of magic that Devi Garh delivers: natural splendor and history within the trappings of luxury.
Suites start at $400. 011-91-2953-289-211, deviresorts.in — Tanvi Chheda