Bassi Fort Palace
When we got done with Pushkar, Madhu and I suddenly found ourselves at the end of our Rajasthan haul. Although, we had spent quite a bit of time (almost a month and a half in total) in the state, we were reluctant to leave. As a farewell gift we decided to treat ourselves to a nice heritage stay where all we would do is laze, eat good food and soak in Rajasthani hospitality for one last time. Bassi Fort Palace provided us with just that.
The tiny village of Bassi is located on NH76, just about 24kms east of Chittorgarh. We wanted to stay someplace that wasn’t too far from an easy connection back to Mumbai where we were planning to visit family and take a break. So location-wise, Bassi Fort Palace turned out to be perfect and not just because it was close to Chittorgarh but because it sounded obscure enough to ensure us a peaceful, off-the-beaten-path stay.
From Pushkar, we took a state bus to Chittorgarh and after lunch at a roadside dhaba, we hired a taxi to the Fort Palace. As soon as the cab turned off the highway and entered the village, we were quite pleased to see that the village was exactly as we had imagined: completely rustic! The fort palace sits at the base of a hilly mound with a tall, white-washed outer wall. As our taxi pulled into the main courtyard and stopped before a set of stone steps leading up to the palace-hotel’s terraced patio, a couple of the hotel staff stepped forward to welcome us in. Just by the mere act of stepping out of the taxi into a quiet, soaked-in-history atmosphere and handing over our bags to the warm hotel staff, I kicked back into a relaxed mood and felt all the discomfort of the long journey oozing away.
Bassi Fort Palace was built in the 16th century by Thakur Jaimal of Sisodia dynasty. The palace-home within its grounds has been well-preserved by descendants of the Mewar nobility and today offers 16 rooms for accommodation. Each room has retained its original authentic structure but includes modern amenities like en-suite bathrooms and plush mattresses. The decor of the rooms is in keeping with its history and royal past. The terraced porch in front of the palace provides an ideal place for guests to gather and spend time together. Madhu and I spent all our evenings sitting here, leaning against stone-carved alcoves that looked out onto the courtyard below. It is here that we spotted gorgeous peacocks perched proudly atop the palace walls – an unbelievably pretty sight to us city-dwellers. The porch is also where afternoon lunches for large groups and candle-lit dinners are served. A lovely dining room within the palace is used to serve breakfast and other meals during inclement weather.
During our 4-night stay at Bassi Fort Palace, we stayed in 2 different rooms. One was their Deluxe room, which came with a quaint, separate sitting room (almost Victorian in style), while the other was their Royal Suite, which is a super-deluxe, super-spacious room, with a large formal, sitting area – it turned out to be their best! We were bowled over by both! While the deluxe room oozed quiet comfort and elegance, the royal suite was luxurious and felt extremely private as it is housed in a corner of the lower floor.
Stays at Bassi Fort Palace include all meals as the village doesn’t really offer any other options. But there was nothing to complain about that ‘coz the food at Bassi Fort Palace was of very good quality, yummy and lovingly served by the well-trained staff. We loved the candle-lit dinners over which we lingered for at least a couple of hours every evening. It always included soups, salads, vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, rotis, rice and daal and finally dessert. Breakfast and lunch were also equally generous. Whatever weight we had managed to shed while traveling ruggedly around the state for the past month, was duly regained in 4 days of gluttony! Sigh!
One morning, after breakfast, we walked into the village of Bassi and gaped at the wooden, painted toys made by artistes whose families have been doing this for years. The temples in the village were nothing special but it was fun to simply walk about, peek into them and get a feel of life in rural Rajasthan.
What we loved most about Bassi Fort is that it’s truly a hidden gem. Travelers headed to Kota from Chittorgarh sometimes stop here for an aunthentic, Rajasthani meal (we met one such group during our stay) but it deserves much more than that. It offers a lovely heritage stay in a truly rustic atmosphere with hints of its royal past and without the chaos or glamour that some of the other city-based heritage places thrive on. We loved the 4 days of peace and quiet that we were given and the fantastic hospitality showed to us by the family and their staff.