Tag Archives: India tourism

TGIF! Here’s A Shot!



Dawn and dusk are mutual friends of the sun;
one opens the door for him to a brand new day,
and the other one has to shut it to embrace the darkness of night!


Misty Dusk | Wolfsburn Estate | Landour | Mussoorie | Uttarakhand | India



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Monika Ohson / TravelerInMe


Trivia: A visit to a Bhil village



A Bhil home in the village we visited

During our Bundi trip we had a day long excursion to Bhimlat & Bijolia. On our way back in the evening we had stopped at one of the Bhil (community/tribe) village for a short while.

The interaction with them was effortless and they definitely loved the camera 🙂 I restrained myself to a very few clicks, as it seemed like objectifying them.


The word Bhil is derived from a Dravidian word meaning ‘bow‘ thus they are popularly known as the ‘bow men’. They are the second largest tribal community of India and mainly found in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujrat, Chattisgarh and Maharashtra.

As per legend, the Bhils trace their ancestry to Eklavya or the Nishada tribe though there are other several hypotheses about there origin. They were known to live in forests & mountains and were good huntsmen. Over many years now, they have either taken to agriculture or have migrated to cities for masonry and other manual labor. Their language is Bhili, which is an Indo Aryan language though now most speak the language of the state they reside in.

Drawings by this Bhil boy adorn the walls of his house


Art is integral to the Bhil community. They have rich cultural history and give much importance to dance and music. Ghoomar (traditional folk dance of Rajasthan & Sindh) is the most famous dance among the Bhils while Gair is the religious dance drama performed by the men in the Shravan month of July & August. The Bhils are talented in the sculptured work too, making beautiful horses, elephants, tigers, deities out of clay.

A Bhil’s life is expressed through his/her paintings. The Bhils, like all adivasis, live close to nature, so most of their drawings / paintings relate to it. Upon visiting a Bhil household, one will discover a myriad of simple images of everyday life of the tribe adorning their mitti (mud) huts & walls.

Balu Lal, a young Bhil lad, we met at the village, uses his house wall as canvas and proudly calls himself a budding artist. He loves painting and the above photographs are a proof of it 🙂

The distinguishing feature of Bhil art are dots. Pic: Google Searched

The dots used are the distinct identity of Bhil art and is symbolic. It is inspired by the maize kernels which is their staple food and crop. Each group of dots often represents a particular ancestor or deity. Also every artist composes the dots in distinctive patterns encoding each artwork with their signature visible to the trained eye.

Onset of sunset in the Bhil village

While we chatted with the Bhils we got to see the onset of a beautiful sunset. In fact we witnessed a bright, fiery sunset that day which till date is deeply etched in my mind!


The pretty line up of Bhil girls

The girls were pretty & chirpy and as we bid them adieu I was happy that I could to capture this wonderful memorable photograph of theirs 🙂

In Rajasthan, certain cities are named after the Bhil kings who once ruled the region. Kota, for instance got its name from Kotya Bhil; Bansara is derived from Bansiya Bhil; and Dungarpur is named after Dungariya Bhil.


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Monika Ohson / TravelerInMe



24-Hours of Grandeur @ Neemrana Fort -Palace! 



The view of the fort & the village from our room’s sun terrace (top most Level 14)

Summers and Rajasthan don’t go together 😀 but for the traveler-in-me this one day/night trip was like an oasis in the desert, knowing that this summer I had no travel plans (for numerous reasons).

Most importantly I have ticked off one of the experiences that was on my list — The Luxurious Neemrana Fort Experience

I have already been to three properties under Neemrana Hotels — The Piramal Haveli, Hill Fort Kesroli & The Pataudi Palace (this one is no longer a part of the group) and each one was a memorable trip.

This 15th century fort built by a local chieftain Nimola Meo was under the Chauhans (direct lineage of Prithviraj Chauhan) till 1947. Thereafter, the then raja/ruler moved out of the dilapidated fort-palace. After nearly four decades, the fort was bought by Aman Nath** (in 1986).

The fort complex from level one (early morning view)

The fort is an easy drive of ~2hrs from Delhi. We stopped for a light much on the way and in no time were at our destination.

There was a child like joy as the fort came into view 🙂  Everything suddenly felt larger than life as we alighted from our car.  There was quite a bustle at the huge fort gate with people checking in & out. A massive Suraj Pol (gate) dominated the entrance.

L-R The main entrance to the fort Suraj Pol; the entrance to the Mahals

The first look from the parking

After a quick check-in I started exploring the fort level by level (there are 14 levels). This bit is quite interesting and I am sure one will miss something or discover something that the other has not 😀 Each level and its nook and corner has something to admire! When you look down from the higher levels you will be mesmerized by the view…… wide spread fort and peaceful village surrounding it.

The view of the lovely Neemrana Fort Palace from the terrace of level 1

Inside the fort

View of the Neemrana Village & beyond from one of the turrets

I headed for our room after exploring a part of the fort. Our room was right at the top ….. yes the 14th level! This level has the Apsara Mahals namely Urvashi, Menaka & Rambha. Ours being the Urvashi Mahal.

The sparkle highlights the Apsara Wing (the topmost / Level 14 of the fort)

The mahal was exactly as seen on their official website. A high antique bed. Doors and windows with colored glasses reflecting beautiful hues. A sun terrace and cute little private sit out …… both with amazing views of sunset & the world below ❤ The bathroom had huge windows with a view. Being at the highest level gave us the liberty to leave one of them open 😉  The room was equipped with all modern facilities (except TV) and the toiletries are from their in-house spa with a hmmmm……a refreshing lemony!

The Room

Toiletries Refreshing! Lemony!

L-R The cute little sit out; the window in the bathroom; the sun terrace

After settling in the room, I headed back to my exploring.  There are two swimming pools — one for the adults and another one for the kids and their parents —- both already had plenty of takers. One of the view I most enjoyed was that of the pristine blue pools with a splash of green surrounding it against the medieval charm of the fort. The generous use of aqua color here and there breaks the monotony and gives the ambiance a peppy, grand look. It also happens to be one of my favorite colors!

The right use of aqua color here & there added pep

The vista through the arches

The amphitheater was a symmetrical delight. Arches opening to the view of the fort and village; mashaal like lights; a semi circular seating ……all came together to give it a magnificent look & feel.

The amphitheater

Views from the amphitheater

The fort on the whole has an original section; a new wing constructed while restoring the ruins and some more new wings coming up to accommodate more than its current capacity of ~190 people.

Every level and its nook and corner have a beautiful view

Once through (I am sure I must have missed a few things) we headed for the evening tea at Hawa Mahal. The seating was well arranged and there were small jharokhas too to sit by and enjoy the world outside it. I loved their in-house butter cookies.

From the Hawa Mahal (Evening Tea)

In front of the Hawa Mahal (an outside seating for meals / tea during winters)

By the time we had our coffee, my friend’s 4 year old daughter was all set to hit the pool ….. and so started our mermaid chapter. The children in the pool seemed to be having a wonderful time with many of them not willing to leave the coolness of the pool.

After an hour of swimming we headed back to our room to catch the sunset and some rest. The sun was a big orange while bidding us good bye for the day. I wish it was cloudy for those beautiful sunset experience. Gradually the fort was all lit up and the village lights twinkled as well. It seemed we were looking at a starry sky.

Sunset from our mahal’s sit out

Sunset from our mahal’s sun terrace

A quick shower, some peace time and we were all set for a scrumptious buffet dinner at the Jalgiri Mahal.  The dinner room was tastefully done up (again the use of aqua was just the right choice). The buffet spread had variety for both the vegetarians & non vegetarians. The live pasta counter was popular with the chef whipping lip smacking pasta for us 🙂

Jalgiri Mahal – Dinner

Sinful but yum dessert! From inside the Jalgiri Mahal.

Once we finished dining we went down all the way to look at the fort in the night with lights on. The nights are so peaceful in villages…….. a far cry from the noisy cities. Even though it was summer, the weather there was much tolerant and breezy. We spent some tranquil time there and called it a day while making the final ascent to the top. The fort lights went off at 10 pm and in no time we were ready for slumber-land.

Neemrana Fort-Palace & Neemrana village at night

The next morning I did wake up early to catch the sunrise but I guess I was late. Nevertheless, I had the whole fort to myself as most were either still asleep or in their mahals. Through out our stay we heard the peacocks but saw none……. until now! From the fort rampart I could see the village houses and on the terrace of one, a peacock performed for good 8 mins non stop. I watched its show like a true admirer.

From one of the gardens

My morning stroll (read climb) was through and back in the room we readied ourselves for breakfast, camel cart ride and then check-out.

The breakfast, a lovely spread of Indian and continental, was served in the Jalgiri Mahal. In winters, seating for breakfast & lunches extend to the sun basked terraces as well.

Jalgiri Mahal – Breakfast


We ate like queens and strolled down to the entrance gate for our camel cart ride.

Camel Cart Ride

The ride took us through the Neemrana farmhouse where they grow their own organic vegetables and have cows/buffaloes for milk. The highlight of the ride was the Rani ki Baoli or Neemrana Baoli (stepwell).

The 9 storey Rani ki Baoli or Neemrana Baoli

The step well is under the government, littered by people and needs some maintenance from tourism point of view. Built in the 1760s it is a 9 storey stepwell. I had read somewhere that its being developed as a crafts haat (bazaar) under the Rural Tourism project (Union Government). The steps leading down to the lowest storey were pretty worn out. Though I did not go down I managed to take a shot of the stepwell 2nd -9th storey from the top floor’s broken edges.

Different views of the 18th century stepwell

Once back from the ride we went through the check out process. Certain feedback was shared with the GM of the fort who was prompt in taking note of them. Hopefully they turn into actions as apt.

Just before leaving I went into their Neemrana Shop to see if I could pick up something as a souvenir……. and I did find a couple of things 🙂  Their shop has an interesting collection of handicrafts from Indian villages/state famous for it. An outlet is there at Khan Market, Delhi though I found the collection at the Fort more varied.

Pic: Google Searched

…………………… and with this we moved out of the fort back to our home! We returned with a spring in our step and joy in our heart ❤ The getaway to this magical fort was bliss!

I look forward to experiencing more properties of Neemrana non hotels as and when my pocket allows ;-D

A watchful dog or is there a story of this dog?

Some quick take offs

  1. Though winter is the best time to visit the fort, late summer (close to onset of monsoon) and monsoon are not a bad choice either. There was quite a rush even in June when we went
  2. To get rooms with lesser price ensure you book early because they are the first ones to be taken
  3. Ample parking space is there and if you have a driver, they have a free dorm facility for them (first come first serve) with food which is chargeable.
  4. I was pretty happy with their service be it at the entrance, the reception, the bell boys, the room service or their staff at the restaurants and other facilities. Smiling, efficient, prompt and helpful.
  5. The fort may seem like a maze in the first instance….. but its simple if you stick to a path pattern. However, at every level their staff is there to guide you if you feel lost.
  6. There are a lot of activities to choose from — you may opt for rejuvenation at the spa; spend some cool time in the swimming pool; enjoy the grand vistas and architecture through fort exploration; feel the adrenaline rush while zipping across Neemrana with Flying Fox; be part of the rustic life and enjoy the camel ride to the baoli; take a vintage car ride like royalty; hit the in-house gym to keep up with your fitness regime; on weekends connect with your roots through cultural programmes or simply relax “doing nothing”
  7. Try to indulge in activities that you may not get to experience in your town or city.
  8. The higher up the rooms the better the views.
  9. There is no room service so avoid taking elderly people as it will not be convenient for them to keep climbing up and down (there is no lift facility)


Beautiful, isn’t it!




**Aman Nath is a writer, hotelier, and architectural restorer. He is the co founder & charirman of the Neemrana ‘non-hotel’ Hotels along with Francis Wacziarg. He has co-written and authored many illustrated books on Rajasthan and Indian arts that have won him National awards and is also the first Indian whose book has been chosen by Christie’s for worldwide distribution. Neemrana group of hotels is renowned in restoring ruins and turning them into heritage hotels. The hotel group has been for the Aga Khan Award (2004) and have won awards from UNESCO & the Indian travel industry. 


….and, if you like what you just read, do ‘like it’ & ‘share it’. Non WordPress users please ‘rate’ it to express your appreciation 🙂 Also do not forget to ‘follow the blog’ to remain updated about newer posts ❤ 


Monika Ohson / TravelerInMe