‘Rebuilding the past into a promising future’
The bare magnificent 230 year old structure of the warrior fort of the kachawa clan stands atop a granite hillock looking over the small village of bishangarh. It had been lying empty for years inhabited by bats and monkeys. The great structure has lost its purpose of a refugee fort in today’s day and age and hence the visionary decision was made to adapt in into a hotel property, giving it a new stage of life.
The warrior fort is of typical Jaipur Gharana architecture style, which is a beautiful amalgamation of Rajput and Mughal architecture. This gave clear source of inspiration as it was important to keep the heritage alive and to use the beauty of the existing structure and restore it to its stately homestead. The visual vocabulary of the fort has been carefully woven into the design to keep it true to its original form and maintain the essence of the warrior fort and not convert it into a palace, which is what has come to be expected of the heritage sites in Rajasthan.The inner core of the fort has been completely retained where the stone carving pillars have been restored and replicated. The upper wing and an outer envelope was an addition to the structure. The structure is a completely organic form with no 90 degree angles which was one of the major challenges faced as there are no typical layouts.
It was important to keep the carbon footprint to a minimum. All the materials from the construction stage to the furnishing stage have been sourced locally, from a 100km radius. The local community was also involved in the construction process as it is not difficult to find talent in the culture rich villages of Rajasthan.
Extensive research and care was taken to derive a vocabulary that fully belonged to the original structure. Design ideas of the past were encapsulated in a way that served the modern needs best. Taking clue from what was found in the ruins, finishes were derived from in and around the area.We can say it is a dialogue between the age old design methods current ideas architecture and technology. Traditional materials have been used with a certain amount of modernity.
The heritage resort has 59 rooms all with its own unique shape and aura, but the common element being the windows that give incredible views of the landscape of Rajasthan from each room. The windows are of Jharokha style which is a typical element of the Gharana architecture style. These windows contribute as one of the major design elements. The windows had to be designed in such a way that it did not damage the elevation of the fort and at the same time it was necessary to harness the magnificent views of the landscape of Rajasthan. To achieve both of these requirements, an unequal, small-big combination of windows have been provided that are painted in the color of the fort.
This is probably the only fort which has 4 vertical circulation lifts, 2 staircases and a kitchen lift for goods. It was a challenge to discover vertical shafts and the traditional method of tying ropes to torches was used to overcome this.
Facilities in the hotel
The boutique hotel offers a complete traditional cum luxurious experience. The approach to the hotel had to be constructed. A winding road up the hill was made. Down the hill is the Haveli where some public areas are housed, comprising the arrival courtyard and Jodhpur tent structure, luxurious banquet lawns, the pool, pool verandah and terrace, a bar and pantry, fitness centre and the Play Soldiers Club for teenagers and toddlers separately.
Rooms come with all the modern conveniences, including expansive bathrooms, footed/inbuilt bathtubs and large day-beds.Within the fort are various exciting F&B options innovatively curated by a renowned chef. There is a low height marble carved coffee shop, soft colored frescoed restaurant, a rugged masculine bar and a windy open dining area with vies of the surrounding area. An organic garden and a greenhouse set up amidst the ravines and various lounging areas located in this rural landscape brings one up close with nature.
The materials used are widely natural sandstone, marble and granite. Even the plaster was made with the local sandstone and tested till it matched the old plaster. Jharonkha styled windows and the tudor and cusped arches highlight the inspiration that flows from the Gharana architecture. Other elements include intricate lattice stone work, vegetable dye frescoes, ancient metal jaali screens, antique brass embossing and ancient woodwork on doors and windows. Great care and time was spent on handpicking all the elements for furnishing to make sure the feel of the whole project sings through till the end. The furniture and light fittings were custom designed and made. Vernacular techniques of patchwork, block print, tie & dye and Gudri work are sparsely scattered around to add flavor to the interior of the hotel. These were in forms of block printed fabric, hand-picked artifacts, hand woven carpets and rugs in neutral tones all sourced from parts of Rajasthan.
Breaking the basic conception of lack of lighting in the forts, we deliberately created cutout to get natural light throughout the floors and used the existing courtyard as the main source of natural light in the common areas and the corridors running all along the fort.
Use of Jaalis and screens in the corridor creates a magical reflection on the floor of the corridor; as the building breathes the shadows change and patterns evolve through the day.