Hidden away in the Arvalli hills in Rajasthan, a world away from the crowds on the conventional Jaipur-Jodphur-Udaipur trail, is Fort Bishangarh – a 230-year-old defensive fortress which has been seven years in restoration and undergone a brilliantly sensitive transformation. Alila Fort Bishangarh is Alila’s second property in India.
Alila is the first international hotel group to open a property in the Aravalli hills between Delhi and Jaipur and Fort Bishangarh is thought to be one of the only warrior forts of its kind to be converted into a unique heritage resort of this stature. It has a remarkable presence, sitting up high on a granite hill with staggering 360-degree views of the Rajasthani landscape, surrounded by hills and dotted with havelis, villages and temples. A tiny village skirts its base and adds to the rural charm. This imposing structure is fortified by two-metre thick stone walls and majestic turrets with wonderfully intricate arched windows and jaalis — a perfect example of the Jaipur Gharana architecture influenced by both the Mughals and the British. The use of traditional materials in a contemporary manner is the basic design ethos.
The quest in the preservation of this ancient warrior fort inspired the creation of a world-class boutique resort for guests to appreciate the beauty of the Aravalli hills. The project grew out of a love for the heritage of the building and the surrounding landscape, with sustainability as a core commitment. The original fort has been left intact and much care has been given to the reconstruction of new residential areas to ensure it is everything a modern-day Maharaja or Maharani could wish for and more.
The new structure – created above and outside the old fort – houses four different categories of suites. Each of the 59-suites has been custom designed to make the most of the stunning views from the large openable windows, resulting in 22 different layouts. Rooms come with all the modern conveniences, including expansive bathrooms, footed/inbuilt bathtubs and large day-beds.
Within the fort are various exciting F&B options innovatively curated by a renowned chef. There’s Amarsar, an indoor speciality restaurant and Nazara an outdoor grill dining venue on the terrace, with spectacular views. Madhuveni is the hotel’s bar, with a cigar/cognac turret and there is also the Kachhawa Lounge serving the 4 C’s – Champagne, Coffee, Chai and Cakes. The library, amidst old marble pillars is where the Alila journeys begin. Spa Alila, carved out between granite rocks, is located in the dungeon within the main fort. Darbar, a large grand banquet hall, Daawat, the show kitchen cum event dining space and Saheb, the conference room, round off the banqueting experience.
Meanwhile, down the hill is the Haveli where some public areas are housed, comprising the arrival courtyard and tent, luxurious banquet lawns, the pool, pool verandah and terrace, a bar and pantry, fitness centre and the Play Soldiers Club for teenagers and toddlers separately. An organic garden and a green house set up amidst the ravines and various lounging areas located in this rural landscape brings one up close with nature.
Bishangarh Village in the Arvalli hills is in the Jaipur district. It is a three-hour drive from New Delhi and an hour’s drive from Jaipur. It is ideally located to explore the charm and beauty of rural Rajasthan with Alila experiences covering five core themes:
1. Cultural Learning
Day visits to historic palaces, temples and forts. Amber Fort is a 45-minute drive
2. Conscious Living
Wellness at Spa Alila, visits to the local communities for farming, seeing marble artisans and carpet weavers, teaching at the village school
3. Active Spirits
Walks & picnics, biking, horse-riding, trekking, ATV adventures (All-Terrain-Vehicles), hot-air ballooning
4. Culinary Arts
Traditional cooking school and special food trails
5. Couples Celebration
From grand celebratory events to intimate wedding ceremonies
Alila Fort Bishangarh