We arrive at Devi Garh after a death defying drive in the dark from Udaipur airport in which the driver negotiates (drive left) speeding mopeds loaded with families heading against traffic, meandering cows, people carrying huge loads on their heads, top-heavy painted trucks, madly honking motorists, and zigzag speed bumps. Passing through the multiple gates announcing Devi Garh – an 18th century palace and fort high on a cliff surrounded by a pitch black valley and lit up in imposing and slightly creepy fashion — we are met by a variety of guards in flamboyant uniforms and turn over our passports as we look around in stunned silence. Have we arrived in Transylvania via India?
As we are introduced to the vast grounds and multiple levels of suites and public rooms it becomes apparent that we may be the only people here. The creepy factor ratchets up but the place is too gorgeous to get the better of us. By the time we enter the empty dining room decorated with 200 year old frescoes and bowls of marigolds, the overhead speakers are whispering the overture from Phantom of the Opera (seriously) and we escape to the bar where we meet the lovely Nahal who rescues us with gin and reassurance that Rajput vampires are not on the loose.
In the morning we walk the property and the pictures will have to speak for themselves. It must have taken years to restore the palace and it is often used for movies and large weddings; be aware that with no elevator you need strong legs to hoof up and down the dozens of staircases to inspect the stunning public rooms – terraces, viewpoints, private dining nooks, and original antique furniture.
No elevators? Really? (totally worth it)
Sunset from the terrace bar.
Frecoes in the dining room.
The gold room. One of the many public “nooks”.
A private dining nook in one of the towers.
Private dining set up on one of the many terraces.
Please take a dip.
It’s about a 45 minute drive to Udaipur – (always hair-raising as you negotiate wild world of animals who do not give a crap how big your vehicle might be or how loud its horn) – but worth it to return to the spectacular solitude (yes, we got used to it) and the competing calls from the surrounding village Muezzin and ringing bells from the Hindu temples.
Tower view looking west.
Village school, Delwara
And now from the official blurb: “Nestled in the Aravali hills of Rajasthan, the 18th century Devi Garh Fort Palace, in the village of Delwara commands one the three main passes into the valley of Udaipur. The actual construction of the fort palace started only in the 1760s, under Raghudev Singh II, with further additions being made to the structure by the rulers who followed. The fort, surrounded by lush green fields and mountains on three sides, overlooks the village of Delwara and is close to the temples of Eklingji and Nagda. The combination of a traditional Rajasthani village, the towering fort and the temples makes for an fabulous mix.” Amen.
“Devi” means Goddess and “Garh” means fort. Fortress of the Goddess — good enough for me.
The billiard room – if you are so inclined.(Check out the rug).
Holy book and rose petals.
A little teapot short and stout…
The gold room. There is also a silver room. And a black and red room. In case you can’t find a room with a view.
The bar. Not to be missed.
Welcome to the dining room. Tonight it’s red roses and matching tablecloths. Tomorrow saffron and marigolds.
Green parrots swoop from the rooftops – view through terrace frieze.
Morning flute swami.
Through the gates. Transylvania in Rajasthan?
View from the garden suites. Ground level.
Garden suite room with towel swans and rose petals.
View looking out over village and vegetable gardens.
Sunset over the Aravalli Hills.
Private pool adjoining two palace suites.
Having a fabulous time: wish you were here!