Walk the garden path and through the entry courtyard of Rajasthan, India’s Nahargarh Hotel and you’ll enter into a place of tranquil comfort. The hotel’s expansive and elegant setting is the ideal place to stay while making safari drives to see the Bengal tigers of Ranthambhore National Park.
Getting There | To get to Nahargargh Hotel, friends and I travel from Jaipur to Sawai Madhopur district, a 100 mile road trip that takes four hours. We bounce along the oft dusty roads, passing small town after small town along the Vindhya Mountains. Outside the villages, the land we pass is planted with wheat, barley, and legumes. It’s an area often referred to as Indian’s “bread basket.” The hotel is only a five-minute drive from the Park.
Tranquil Respite | The entry courtyard seals the notion that we’ve left the dust of the road behind for a tranquil three-night excursion. Our days will primarily consist of morning and afternoon park drives and a trip to the 10th century Ranthambhore Fort, punctuated by time to relax and explore the hotel.
The expansive and elegant setting is contained within stone walls. A series of courtyards stretch the length of the hotel grounds. These courtyards open into the dining rooms, lounges, swimming pools, a spa, and the living suites.
Skillfully incorporating both Eastern and Western design and aesthetics, the hotel evokes another time and place. There are checked tile and marble floors throughout. High ceilings. Portraits of Indian royalty. Archways and beams. Flowers and statuary.
Our Rooms | My room has a generous entry, a Mughal arched doorway leading to the main space. There’s British wainscoting and molding, and marble floors. Ceilings are high and ceiling fans lend both comfort and a touch of romance. Chandeliers provide comfortable lighting configurations. The spacious room is furnished with a carved wood bedframe, wardrobe, seating and writing desk. The bath is tiled throughout, roomy and very Old World.
The extensive hotel features 14 Standard rooms, 43 Deluxe rooms, 22 Super Deluxe rooms, and 20 Haveli rooms.
Meals at Nahargarh Hotel center on traditional home-style Rajasthani cuisine rather than European or nouvelle Indian creations. We enjoy some of the region’s best dishes. Requesting a bit more fire, our server brings out a wonderful vindaloo. Hot, fresh batches of naan and kulcha are cooked by slapping the bread to the sides of tandoori ovens. At breakfast, I enjoy Indian fare, although Western breakfast items such as omelets, baked tomatoes and beans are available, as are European pastries.
Our dinners are held outdoors in a grassy courtyard. Temperatures cool to a range perfect for the lightest of wraps. Light from tabletop candles and scattered lanterns bounce off the white walls enclosing the courtyard. Fragrant jasmine lines the walkways and circles the fountain.
Sunset and Movie in the Courtyard | On our first evening, we gather with other hotel guests in the courtyard off the main dining room. Coffee, tea, chai and biscuits are served and we take seats under a clear, darkened sky. The stars just beginning to shine, we watch a half hour documentary about the tigers of Ranthambhore and the establishment of the park. The film is a wonderful visual introduction that had me anticipating the morning’s safari drive all the more.
Ranthambhore National Park | Ranthambhore National Park is a government-run tiger reserve, regarded as one of the best to site tigers. Half the world’s tiger population resides in India, but of course, they’re still somewhat elusive. If we’re lucky, we’ll see one of the endangered tigers, but if not, we’ll see a wide range of other wildlife.
We do indeed get lucky. On three separate drives, we site Sambar deer, chitals, langur monkeys, marsh crocodiles, blue nilgai, a wide variety of birds, and more. The highlight comes on our second drive out—the extended amount of time we get to view one of the tigers. Arrowhead is a beautiful tigress, a granddaughter of Machli, Ranthambhore’s most famous tiger, who is the main documentary subject.
Pool Side | Still animated from our drives, time at the swimming pool and a cocktail is warranted on our return to the hotel. Nahargarh Hotel features three swimming pools. The largest of the three pools features water-spouting elephants and tiered seating.
The second pool is adjacent from the Lancer Bar.
We also enjoy the expansive views from one of the third floor turrets just outside one of our rooms.
Vilasa Spa | Do make an appointment at the hotel’s Vilasa Spa. My late afternoon appointment allowed for pool time after our afternoon drive. After the spa, I had time to change for the evening before cocktail hour and dinner. Between the swim and the spa treatments, and still taking in all we’d seen at Ranthambhore, I’m completely rejuvenated.
The spa offers a variety of massages, wellness, and beauty treatments, including Rasika, a traditional spice bath and Shirodhara, an Ayurvedic technique for balancing the chakras.
A Tranquil Respite | Nahargarh Hotel is the perfect hotel choice for a visit the see tigers of Ranthambhore. Both discerning international and Indian guests will find themselves rejuvenated from the (wonderful) frenetic energy of India’s major cities during their stay, and leave ready to explore more this fascinating country. The hotel and staff at Nahargarh successfully manage to combine the comfort of modern amenities with attentive Indian hospitality, and tranquility.
Where to stay: Nahargarh Hotel, https://www.nahargarh.com/
The Alsisar Group of hotels also maintains luxury accommodations in Rajasthan’s Jaipur and Shekhawati, https://www.alsisar.com/
Dhonk is a women’s art and handicrafts cooperative just a 10 minute drive from the hotel. We enjoyed the chance to meet some of the women. Items for sale include high quality apparel, bags and purses, home furnishings, textiles, and pottery. Dhonk, https://www.dhonk.com/