Experiencing Royalty at Ghanerao Royal Castle
Read on as Sindhu Murthy plays Lara Croft exploring the treasures of an erstwhile Royal Castle in Ghanerao.
How often would you get to stay like royalty in a centuries-old castle? How about spending a night in a museum filled with interesting artifacts from the erstwhile Royalty? Or how would you fancy being part of a reality show where you are left unattended on a huge maze-like mansion with many tunnels and passages- left all by yourself to find a hidden treasure? Doesn’t it sound intriguing? well, That is how we would describe our stay at the Ghanerao Royal Castle in Rajasthan sans the reality show and the hidden treasure.
Colorful flags welcomed us as we entered the main entrance of the castle from the outer courtyard. The inner courtyard had a beautiful fountain in the centre and marble seats to up the ante of the setting. The overgrown Bougainville creeper added a mystic charm to the regal mansion. The courtyard also has some armors and howdahs put on display. what enthralled us was a few cannon balls placed near the entrance gate.
Some facts: The village of Ghanerao is situated in Desuri Tehsil of Pali District of the state of Rajasthan in India. It was established as a princely thikana of 37 villages in 1606 AD. Gopal Das Rathore, a valorous Rajput soldier of Mewar built this castle with marble and red sandstone in Rajput style of Architecture. Interestingly, Ghanerao was part of two states- Jodhpur State as well as Udaipur State and was ruled by Rathores of Mertiya clan. Even today, a part of this ancestral property is home to the royal family while the remaining part has been opened up to host guests.
Not for a single moment did we feel that we were in a hotel because there was no restriction imposed on us. All the vacant suites in the castle were left unlocked. We couldn’t help getting into each one of the rooms to check what it had to offer. Soon we realized that no two rooms were alike or even on the same floor. While some rooms had beautiful jharokhas, others had interesting handicrafts adorning the walls. What was common to all rooms was their royal look. Not only the rooms, the private verandas in front of each of the suites were interesting. The lounge in front of our room was more like a museum displaying many silver artifacts and furniture used by the erstwhile royalty. The other lounge that we explored had some beautiful leather furniture and loads of pictures of the royal family.
The Castle also has three family temples within its premise where prayers are performed each morning and evening. The guests are welcome to attend the prayers.
There was a closed wooden door next to our room with very intricate carvings. It opened up to a small room that seemed like a treasure chest of art. The upper portion of the walls of the room was decorated with mirror inlay and gold paintings while the lower portion had 3d murals depicting some war scenes. There was also a painting of a British man on the side walls of one of the windows which made us wonder if the ancestors of the family had any business to do with the British. Much to our dismay, most fo the artwork on the walls was in bad state. We only could think how majestic the room would have looked back then.
The MD of Ghanerao Hotels, Mr. Shakthi Singh, who also happens to be the current prince of the Royal family has very tastefully restored the castle with necessary modern amenities for the comfort of its guests. All rooms are well appointed with TV, hot water, and AC. A swimming pool constructed in the sun-drenched courtyard is a lovely place to laze around on a sunny afternoon.
While at the Ghanerao Royal Castle, there was no dearth of activities. We went on a village tour to explore the multiple step-wells and temples in Ghanerao and visited a nearby lake to see some crocodiles. We also visited some of the tribal homes located on the fringes of Kumbhalgarh National park. It was quite interesting to see how the local tribes like Garasias and the Rabaris lived in complete harmony with nature. The castle also offered horse rides and a trek to Kumbhalgarh Fort which we did not try for lack of time. In spite of a myriad of activities, our favorite was to explore the maze-like castle as if searching for a hidden treasure. And why not when the castle was filled with antique artifacts in every corner.
The Ghanerao Royal Castle also has a jungle lodge located in the Kumbhalgarh National Park. This 100-year-old hunting lodge located in the foothills of the Aravali Ranges is a good place to spend a few peaceful days amidst nature.
The food was served at different places in the castle as per our wish. While we had our dinner under the full moon sky by the marble pavilion, we had our breakfast by the poolside. Since we were the only guests during our stay, the cook prepared some delicious Indian dishes as per our order. The dining hall was pretty huge and could house around 60 people at a time. When there are many guests, a buffet would probably be arranged.
Ghanerao can be reached by road from Udaipur, Ranakpur, Kumbhalgarh and Jodhpur. The road condition is pretty good. The nearest airport is the Maharana Pratap Airport in Udaipur and the nearest railway station is Rani which is located at a distance of 25 km.
Driving Distance for important tourist attraction:
Udaipur: 130 Km
Nathdwara: 80 Km
Jodhpur: 160 Km
Kumbhalgarh Fort: 50 Km
Ranakpur: 20 Km
Pali: 80 Km
If you are looking for star facilities and luxury, Ghanerao is not the place for you. But if adventure, history, and art intrigues you, you should not miss staying at the Ghanerao Royal Castle. This is the best place to stay if you wish to trek in the Kumbhalgarh National Park. Ghanerao Royal Castle has different rooms suiting different budgets of the travelers. Book directly on the hotel website to get the best deals.