On my recent trip to India, I discovered the hotel of my fairytale dreams: the Devi Garh was at once mysterious, beautiful and transporting. Located just 45 minutes from Udaipur, the all-suite fortress palace hovers over the village of Delwara, a relic of old Rajasthan. From the comfort of my tower suite, I could peer down into the village and observe so many things – against the backdrop of the Aravalli hills, I could hear the muezzins call to prayer, watch a girl in a red sari wash her waist-length hair on her rooftop, spy on old men chatting at the edge of the ancient town bath and women tilling the fields while cattle grazed by their sides. All of this took place in a quiet valley unmarred by signs of the 20th century and dotted with the towers of Jain temples and mosques. At dusk, the drama was heightened by music from a sitar player in the courtyard, where my companion and I enjoyed a drink on the restaurant’s breezy terrace. As the sun dropped behind the surrounding hills, we were led through the palace to our own personal turret room, Sheesh Mahal, where flickering candlelight illuminated the frescoes and tilework on the walls. We enjoyed a feast of local Rajasthani cuisine, reclining on plush pillows for much-needed breathers between the multiple courses, feeling very much like resident royals in our very own castle.
I truly cannot imagine a more romantic hotel than Devi Garh. In addition to simply enjoying the property, guests can go on camel excursions and village walks or visit the nearby temples of Eklingji. While I was at that temple, a ceremony was underway, the maharaja and his wife also happened to be visiting, and a raga singer moved me to tears with her songs – these are the types of once-in-a-lifetime experiences that seem to happen naturally at the magical Devi Garh. I highly recommend taking extra time in Udaipur to enjoy a refreshing break from the froth of India’s larger cities and observe a quieter side of India, rich with atmosphere, history and beauty.
– Sasha Lehman