At a distance of less than 150 kms from Jaipur lies the quaint town of Nawalgarh in the world-renowned Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. With a plethora of havelis, temples and monuments adorning the beautiful fresco art, Nawalgarh is aptly known as an Open Air Art Gallery. For horse lovers, however, the bigger attraction is the one-of-its-kind equestrian experience that a family-run boutique hotel Roop Niwas Kothi offers here for its guests from across the globe.
Housing over 50 Marwari horses, the hotel is run by an enthusiastic and enterprising father-daughter duo, Rawal Devendra Singh and Jogeshwari Singh. Hailing from the erstwhile royal lineage of Nawalgarh, they are the descendants of the great Rajput warrior chieftain – Nawal Singh Ji Bahadur who established the Thikana (kingdom) of Nawalgarh in 1737 AD.
After over a year of staying at home, I finally decided to take a short weekend getaway at Roop Niwas Kothi recently. As I entered the Kothi, the pastel yellow tones of the elegantly designed building and the serenity of the sprawling lawns caught my fancy. The warm hospitality of their staff as I checked in, especially the Manager – Surendra instantly made me feel ‘at home’. En-suite with all modern amenities, the spacious rooms and bathrooms had the vintage appeal of a quintessential heritage haveli of Rajasthan. In addition to the usual tea, coffee and cookies, the coffee table in the room also had two huge glass jars filled with freshly made Shakarpara and Mathri. A bowl with bright and colourful bougainvillea flowers awaited us at the console near the mirror alongside a sanitizer and two N95 masks.
As we headed for lunch to their in-house restaurant, Badhshah Pasand (named after one of their oldest horses), a delectable spread of local Rajasthani delicacies like kadhi, aloo methi, bajra soita, lehsun chutney, gatte ki sabzi, chakki ki mithai lay beautifully on a table covered with a crimson red table cloth. The preparation of the food was authentic to its roots, flavourful and had just the right amount of spices.
Hi-Tea at the stables
As the evening approached, we headed to the stables to catch the one-of-its-kind sight of over 50 magnificent and free-spirited Marwari horses running to the feeding area from the paddocks for their evening meal. The thunderous sound of the galloping horses which keeps getting louder as they come closer with each passing second is sure to give one goose bumps! A wave of freedom, energy and power engulfed the air. As we settled with our cups of masala chai in the stable-facing garden, the horse aficionado — Rawal Devendra Singh — who is also known as the pioneer of Equine Tourism in Rajasthan narrated the history of the three-decade-old stables along with some memorable equestrian anecdotes for the guests. The inimitable passion with which he introduced some of their choicest horses left us with no choice but to be blown away by these majestic being
To give the guests a glimpse into the state’s rich culture and tradition as well as the region’s geographical and architectural heritage, Jogeshwari has curated a host of innovative experiences around the hotel. These include a nature walk, a trek in the Aravallis, a farm walk, a barbecue dinner with folk dances and music of Rajasthan, a photography tour as well as a Jeep Safari in the Shekhawati region.The next morning we decided to take the Shekhawati safari which started with a visit to the Seth Arjun Das Goenka Haveli museum that houses stunning fresco paintings as well as sculptures depicting scenes from everyday life in the past –the accountant and his assistants, women working in the kitchen, among others. This was followed by a visit to the Dundlod and Mahansar forts. Though in need of upkeep, these forts had a rustic and laidback charm and gave the tourists a glimpse into the yesteryears. Just like Roop Niwas Kothi, the welcoming nature of the owners as well as the sumptuous food at Mahansar made it a worthwhile experience. The safari concluded with a visit to an ancient stepwell. While opulent in design, architecture and built, it sadly lacked cleanliness and maintenance.
Finally, it was time to bid adieu to Roop Niwas Kothi but not without yet another delectable meal of aloo matar samosas, omelettes and freshly squeezed orange juice. The hotel will soon have a museum with a display of the beautiful paintings, photographs and sculptures painstakingly collected by Rawal Devendra Singh and his forefathers. All in all, the tranquility, warmth and the exquisite equine escape that Roop Niwas Kothi offers make it a must-visit place in Rajasthan.
Did you know these three hotels from Jaipur are in CN Traveller’s List of “Top 15 Hotels in India”?