Alila Fort Bishangarh blends heritage and luxury in a way no one can. Live like royalty in the 230-year-old fort and discover true extravagance. By Sushmita Gupta
I have often wondered what it would be like to live like a queen in a fort atop a hill, looking at the Lego-sized scenery below. At Alila Fort Bishangarh, a 230-year-old fort-turned-heritage property perched on a granite hill, I finally put my curiosity to rest.
After a road trip of about four hours from Delhi, the resplendent edifice of the property came into view. I was greeted by the warm staff and the general manager of the property, Binny Sebastian. Every part of the fort harks back to the regal lifestyle of the erstwhile maharajas and highlights the intricacies of planning and implementation.
A total of 59 rooms are spread across five categories on each floor of the nine-level high property, and they are the perfect blend of the convention, luxury, and modernity. A buggy took me to the fort, through a driveway flanked by the most amazing view of the village below, and the clear blue sky above.
The high point of my stay was being part of the bespoke journeys Alila provides—they revolve around various themes such as enlightenment, history, adventure, gastronomy, agriculture, and more, and seek to bring the guests closer to the environment and the local community. I opted to discover the village of Bishangarh on a camel cart and was greeted by curious faces of villagers everywhere. Rajasthan is considered a handicraft paradise in India. Bishangarh, in particular, is famous for exquisite workmanship evident in its local handmade jewellery and carpet weaving. I interacted with three artisans on this journey. It started with a visit to the local potter, who not only showcased his skills but also let me try my hand at pottery. Next, at the Radheshyam Jewellery shop, which has been handcrafting gold and silver jewellery for over three decades now, a gentleman showed me vintage jewellery. I ended up buying quite a few silver pieces, which are now my prized possessions. My last interaction was with a carpet weaver who had spent 30 years honing her craft. She had learned the skill from her mother and was now a mentor to her three daughters. Her limbs and fingers moved like clockwork as she finished a complex pattern. She effortlessly switched colours, never making an error, while engaging me in conversation.
At Alila, chefs are known for their attention to detail. My favourite meal was the dinner at Nazaara, where a feast of Rajput hunter cuisine was cooked in sandpits and over open flames. Haveli, the rooftop restaurant served Mediterranean flavours against the backdrop of the Aravalli range. For a fine selection of teas, coffees, and champagnes, there is Kachchawa Lounge. On my last day at Alila, as I lounged in one of the comfy couches in Madhuveni, the luxe bar, I glanced outside, at the Lego-sized landscape and let a wave of elation wash over me.