Thirty minutes from Chandigarh Railway Station and three centuries back in time lies the exquisite luxury resort, Ramgarh Heritage. Leaving the frenzy of the city behind and turning into the village of Ramgarh, we weren’t quite expecting what stood in front of us. The 17th-century Nanakshahi bricked wall led us into the main dwar of Ramgarh Heritage. The minute I laid eyes on the building, I could picture generations of Rajputs holding darbar, riding off to war or simply enjoying a mehfil on a warm summer evening.
Welcomed with scented marigold petals dropped from what seemed like the heavens but was really the first floor balcony, the elaborate frescoes set against the grand architecture that incorporated centuries of influences was striking. The sugary sharbat, dhoti-clad attendants and folk music drifting out from within completed the royal setting as I gawked at the old letters and photographs of the Chandaila Rajputs displayed at the reception, also called the Deori.
Heading up to my room, I was told that each room is unique in its design and style. Most of the furniture belongs to the family and most of the restoration was done without any outside advice. Equipped with all modern luxuries, my room still held old-world charm with the intricate patterns that adorned the walls.
All meals were served in the Diwan Khana, which houses the gaddi (seat) of the former rulers of Ramgarh. The multi-cuisine restaurant with the adjoining Shikaar Bar is styled with a deer theme. The frescoes display delicate paintings of dancing deer and the walls are mounted with deer heads preserved from century-old hunts. Even the bar stools are saddles mounted on wheels of a tank, which were gifted to the Chandailas. Shells and cartridges decorate the walls in varying patterns. Sitting next to all of this is a cooler of Campa-Cola—the juxtaposition nearly set off a fit of giggles.
My next morning started bright and early. A walk around the village revealed some of the older Ramgarhi architecture, thick with Rajasthani influence. In the heart of the village was Lalji’s house, who welcomed us in for a cup of tea and a kulhad of buttermilk. Sitting on a charpai, surrounded by farm animals, birds chirping and bright flowers in full bloom, we felt thousands of miles away from city life rather than a few minutes out.
Once back at the resort, we spent some time in the Barra, or lawn, with a yoga instructor, struggling to contort our bodies as instructed. After the not-so-rigorous workout, we headed for breakfast in the courtyard outside the Diwan Khana.
Although the property has gone through a lot of refurbishing, you wouldn’t mistake it for a run-of-the-mill heritage hotel. The atrium inside the Jagjit Mahal does a fair imitation of a museum with historic relics strewn across the room. The modern couches are paired with old carved doors for coffee table, and bedposts hold assorted Chandaila Rajput treasures. Every staircase and corridor snaking around the now-covered courtyard reveals another set of treasures.
The Hathi Thaan, or the place where elephants used to be tethered, now houses the beautiful pool with marble fountains of two elephants. Walking across the Jagdish Kutir building, each entrance seemed grander than the next. After a quick master-class on Ramgarhi recipes, which mostly featured game meat, we sat down to devour those delicacies with considerable excitement.
In the heart of the Quila is perhaps the oldest structure in the property—the temple of Thakurdwara dedicated to Krishna. The rest of the mansion might have been restored, but the temple has been left largely untouched. There are paintings of Krishna’s life and intricate mirror-work adorning the ancient walls.
Just across the temple is the Barotta—this tree, right outside the Diwan Khana, is over 300 years old and was planted when the founders of Ramgarh first set up camp in the area. They used a small sampling to hold up their barricades, which over the years has grown into a massive banyan tree.
It’s these little nuggets of history hidden within the luxurious walls of Ramgarh Heritage that make it special. The fresh paint on ancient walls hides nothing. In fact, it opens Ramgarh up for those curious to step a few centuries back in time.
LOCATION The Quila, V&PO Ramgarh, near Sector 28, NH-73, Panchkula dist., Haryana
ACCOMMODATION 11 Luxury, 6 Premium, 4 Heritage rooms; 3 Heritage suites and 2 Ramgarh suites
TARIFF From Rs 8,999
CONTACT +91-7529074141, ramgarhheritage.in