There are times when you have no plans but get itchy feet just before a weekend… when you close your eyes to think of options away from the city, and open them in horror of thinking about Taj Mahal once again. You want a place where you do not have to worry about ‘exploring the place’, and can just relax, put your feet up and listen to music or read a book in a place that is not your drawing-room.
Patan Mahal on Kotputli Sikar road in Rajasthan, just about 3-4 hours away from Delhi, is that destination. All you need to do here is — nothing. Nestled in the lap of the Aravalli hills, this heritage hotel offers a calm and quiet break from all kinds of city-life noises.
It also gets its charm with a bit of history. Patan was a war place for many rulers of India. It later became the centre of a minor state called Torawati (after Tomar, the clan name). Owned by Rao Digvijay Singh, a descendant of the Tomar Rajputs, the palace is surrounded by an 800-year-old fort and another palace halfway up a hill.
The owner, while restoring the palace, has been careful to retain the past with old rooms along with period furniture. The palace maintains its exclusivity by offering just 18 rooms, each of which is different; mine had walls adorned with exquisite paintings that spoke to me. There are no television sets in the room since the idea is to offer a truly idle break. But there are all the amenities that we city dwellers are used to: Air conditioning (though you will not require them since the rooms are large and airy), bath tubs, hair dryers, et al. There’s a small library in one corner of the main patio along with space for you to enjoy your tea. Take a dip in the swimming pool or take a walk in the surrounding farm, from where the palace gets most of its veggies (the rest are sourced locally) and consequently the food you get is fresh, simple and delicious.
Trekkers can go up the hill to Badal Mahal, and further to the old fort, one of the few ones to have never been conquered by an invading army. Alternatively, you can walk down to the village nearby, which is home to bangle makers and potters. Interestingly, most men of the village are away working for the army or in countries like Iraq and Saudi Arabia working as labourers. A women-dominated area, this poorly developed area offers nothing much for a tourist. That’s one drawback of this place besides the fact that poor road conditions make the journey to this palace a little tedious. But that’s bearable when what you get in return is a refreshing change from everyday chaotic city life.
My birthday ended with a bonfire in the courtyard of this 200-year-old palace. There was a cake, some wine, daal baati churma, laal maas, and birthday song sung by strangers who had now become friends.
- A quiet place away from the noises of a city life.
- Warm hospitality, different from a typical hotel experience.
- Comes alive during monsoon (it is closed during cruel summer months: May and June)
- The road to the destination isn’t very smooth.
- There are no sights to see in the vicinity. So if your idea of travel is exploration rather than sit-back-and-relax-retreat, this is not the place for you.
Room Tariff: Rs 9000 (Double occupancy according to TripAdvisor)
Best time to visit: January to March, July to December
How to get there: Hire a cab or drive on your own; it is 177kms from Delhi; about 4 hours by road. It lies on Kotputli Sikar Road, off the National Highway 8, which connects Delhi and Jaipur.