Rajasthan through eyes of Aryan
ARYAN | August 16th, 2017
Impromptu Trip to Neemrana
Has it ever happened to you that your birthday plan is precisely no plan and no people (except maybe that one person)? Well this year, my birthday went pretty much that way. Two of us, with a day or two of vacation time and no idea what to do. A balmy night (about 3 in the morning) in May found us shopping at 24x7 for some snacks for a road trip that had no destination as of yet. Sit in the car, start driving, get a full tank and head vaguely towards Jaipur. Lucky for us, we were using Google maps and we noticed after about 2 hours of aimless driving that we’re near Neemrana. We’d never been there, but had heard some good stuff about the place so decided to head there. Some extra birthday money to blow and an intention to have a good birthday spurred the decision. A right turning that we would not have noticed if not for the maps, driving through the industrial town, and we began climbing the incline. Finally reaching the palace, we faced huge gates (must have been for elephants at one time), with a small door in them. The guard informed us that the palace opens at 11.00 am, but we could enter if we had a room booking. Thank God for smartphones because of which we could make a booking right then and there for the cheapest room available (Geru Mahal). Gaining entry, we were then told that check-in is at 2, but we could get an early check-in at 12. We paid over another half day worth of room rent and got an immediate check in. Plus, owing to it being my birthday, we also got an upgrade to the Jalaj Mahal room.
About the Room
The way to our room was such an amazing walk through the pathways and archways that we couldn’t help but imagine ourselves as royals traversing our castle. The room was a surprise; though the dimensions, doors, and the architecture were olden, the amenities and comfort was definitely modern. We even had a small balcony overlooking a water reservoir, where we could even see fish. The palace is built on a hillside and that is why one of our walls in the bathroom was the hill side. A sloping dark rocky incline added to the whole ‘living in a palace’ feel.
About the day
It was May, so you can gauge how hot the day was. However, that didn’t deter us from indulging in a couple of activities, the first one of those being the ziplining adventure by Flying Fox (the first of its kind in India). From one peak to another, you are fixed onto a zipline as you soar above the Neemrana fort palace. The view you get is, for the lack of a better phrase, unbelievably amazing; it’s a completely new perspective of the entire place as you fly above it. Next, we paid a visit to a step-well, which is also called the Neemrana baori. This step-well is a nine storeyed underground astounding structure, each about 20 ft. high, so you can very well imagine its depth. The way it was built, this baori frankly looks more like a fortress than a step-well, making it an awe-inspiring structure that is definitely a must visit. Post that, we spent most of the afternoon in the room, except for a venture out to find lunch. The restaurant is called Hawa Mahal and is done up in typical Mughal architecture, with white walls and arches. We ordered a simple lunch – club sandwich and a chicken pizza. When we saw the pizza arriving, it gave rise to certain trepidation as it was the size of a plate and looked thick. However, the first bite itself was enough to vanish all doubts. Gooey, cheesy and filling, the pizza was a definite treat. Even the sandwiches were richly made and pretty big in size and two of us couldn’t even finish two dishes.
Closing the day
Finally it got cool enough in the evening and we left for a tour of the palace. Some places were only open to residents (that was us). The sheer size and the beauty left us astounded. I am yet to see such an expansive palace where you can get a room and pretend to own it. Cupolas covered small nooks with tables and seating areas where you could enjoy the most amazing views of the valley. We saw at least two swimming pools, with beautiful lights around them. Built on a hill, there were literally levels and levels of luxury spread all around us. There was of course a buffet for guests that had a really enticing aroma, but we headed towards Hawa Mahal again (we saw a bar there). It started getting pretty cool as the evening progressed into night, and we headed towards the bar for a couple of drinks. From past experience, we ordered light this time and tried some Rajasthani dishes like gatte, bajra roti, etc. One thing that deserves a mention is the milk cake, a staple sweet in this region that was offered to us on account of my birthday; creamy and not overpoweringly sweet, it was the perfect end to the meal. Not ready to call it a night, we purchased a good number of beer bottles from the bar, and headed to the roof of the Hawa Mahal. They had some tables and chairs on the roof, where we sat. A cool breeze blew all around us as we gazed at peace at the valley visible from the roof. Twinkling lights from nearby towns and hills cast a tranquil blanket on our night. We could almost imagine a king surveying his kingdom from where we sat (they probably didn’t do so at night, but hey, imagination!) It was pretty late, and even the restaurant had closed its shutters for the night by the time we decided to head back. Though little did we want to, we left the next day around 12; for real life cannot be escaped forever. Neemrana is a beautiful place that lets you live like royalty. It is luxury, heritage, and tradition mixed into one. This trip cost us (including one and a half day of rent) about 9000 for two people, but the experience was worth every rupee we spent. Though there was no major celebration and no party, but this birthday has definitely made it to my list of best birthdays.