In the historic town of Chanderi, you turn off the main road into a thickly-wooded winding road that takes you up a hill. A board announces Kila Kothi, and even as you turn into the gates, you will see, in the distance, the almost forlorn fort of Chanderi. Built as a getaway residence of the Scindia royals, this hilltop mansion later moved into government hands, and was used for a while as a PWD guesthouse. It was subsequently taken over by Madhya Pradesh Tourism and is now a most delightful location from which to experience Chanderi.
As dusk falls, you must wander on the ramparts of the fort, which is separated by a mere cattle gate from the hotel. The walls of the fortress stretch into the distance, and as you try to make out the seven levels of fortifications, you will feel tempted to amble along the knee-high grass to the furthermost edge, a canopied sentry point. As the sun dips in the horizon, perhaps a shiver will pass through your spine. With a good reason: the comedy horror movie Stree was shot at this very atmospheric spot!
However, the warmly-lit Kila Kothi dispels those niggles, and makes you very comfortable indeed. There are large rooms with pretty furnishings and throws made of what else but Chanderi fabric. The furniture is old-world and very charming — there is even a clothes stand in the boudoir. Outside the room, the view from the upper balcony overlooks the entire town. Lights shimmer in the distance and, as a chorus of azaans announce the night, Chanderi looks utterly gorgeous.
The property is rather small: merely six rooms are on offer as of now, which makes it a wonderfully laidback retreat. It would be fabulous to sit out in the pretty garden and ponder on the ups and downs of medieval India.
Getting there: Chanderi is best reached by road. The nearest airport is Gwalior (215km/4½ hrs) and the nearest railhead is Lalitpur (40km/1 hr). There are buses and taxis that connect to Chanderi.
Address: Kila Kothi, near Chanderi Fort, Rajghat Road, Chanderi
Tel: 7898528711, 9179111402
Tariff: AC rooms (from INR 2990); AC Deluxe rooms (from INR 3290)
Email: [email protected]; Website: www.mpstdc.com/properties/mpt-kila-kothi-chanderi