North India and Rajasthan camps - Bhainsrorgarh Fort
Gently crumbling Bhainsrorgarh Fort with its magical setting on an escarpment above the Chambal River is an ideal spot to unwind in rural Rajasthan and indulge in the atmosphere of times gone by.
More an ancestral homestay than hotel Bhainsrorgarh has been owned by the same family since 1741, a fortified outpost of the kingdom of Mewar to the east of Udaipur and Chittorgarh in Rajasthan. Since 2006 parts of the fort have been gradually and sympathetically restored and nine rooms updated with modern ‘essentials’ including air-conditioning and en-suite bathrooms but the historic look and feel remains firmly intact. Though there’s no five star luxury here that would be missing the point but the suites with river views are well worth the extra.
Parts of the fort remain in ruins and inaccessible, overgrown with the orange-reds and pinks of bougainvillea adding to the feeling of being in a time warp, but it’s wholly authentic, real and full of character. Balconies hang out over the river, stone floors and antique furniture are speckled with coloured light from stained glass windows, trophies, paintings and photos of the family from years gone by adorn the thick walls.
The local staff speaks little English but tries hard to please and meals at Bhainsrorgarh will be among the best you have ever tasted in India – this is Mewari cuisine at its best. Eaten on the roof terrace there are superb panoramic views of the river, surrounding farmland and plains - sunrise and sunset are quite magical.
Bhainsrorgarh is a wonderful place to completely chill and do nothing but watch kingfishers flitting by and listen to the sounds of crickets and frogs, but you shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity for some relaxed exploration of the surrounding area. Take a stroll along the ramparts or a guided walk through the village, be rowed along the river to watch birds and basking crocodiles, take a picnic lunch on a river island or make the short drive to the thousand year old Badoli temples surrounded by gardens. Further afield, the beautiful carvings and stepwell of Hingalaj Garh Fort are reached on foot through the forest and a morning safari to Mukundarah Hills National Park will reveal plentiful birdlife and on rare occasions, the sight of a panther.
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