A Royal Affair

Luxury meets history at this grand 14th-century fort turned wellness resort, where one of Bollywood's most-loved couples got married
The fort's conservation spanned more than a decade
The fort's conservation spanned more than a decadeCourtesy: Six Senses Fort Barwara

The usually sleepy little town of Chauth Ka Barwara in the Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan was buzzing with activity on December 9, 2021. Media outlets and paparazzi, armed with an assortment of cameras and lenses, eagerly waited to click the perfect shot of Bollywood sweethearts Vicky Kaushal and Katrina Kaif tying the knot at the magnificent Six Senses Fort Barwara, a 14th-century fortress converted into a luxurious heritage hotel and wellness resort boasting 48 lavish suites. And as soon as the highly coveted image surfaced on social media and various websites, it became an instant sensation, propelling Six Senses Fort Barwara, India’s inaugural outpost of the hotel chain, to newfound fame.

Fast forward to April 2023, as I perused the invitation to visit Six Senses Fort Barwara to experience its newly introduced wellness experience, "Eye of the Tiger," the memory of the much-talked-about #Vik-Kat wedding at the exact location came to mind. I couldn’t help but wonder what all the fuss was about and eagerly anticipated experiencing the hotel’s grandeur first hand.

A corner has been dedicated to the god of Ayurveda, Dhanvantari
A corner has been dedicated to the god of Ayurveda, DhanvantariCourtesy: Six Senses Fort Barwara

The drive from Jaipur airport to Chauth Ka Barwara, located approximately 170 kilometres away from the capital city of Rajasthan, took around two-and-a-half hours. Outside my window, the urban landscape of Jaipur and its suburbs gradually gave way to quaint villages. A sign announced that our destination was close by. I perked up, eager to reach the resort after spending the past couple of hours in the car. As we ascended the bumpy stone path, which once accommodated elephants carrying royals on their backs, I beheld the awe-inspiring design of the hotel. A massive fortification extended as far as the eye could see, with antique structures stacked one upon the other. The colossal red sandstone gate to the complex, restored by grouting the cracks and replacing damaged materials, was where the hotel staff greeted me.

Fort Barwara was originally built in the 14th century
Fort Barwara was originally built in the 14th century

The elements of local art and culture were woven throughout the place. The grand reception area is constructed in the typical Shekhawati style of architecture, with frescoes all over. My spacious and thoughtfully designed suite blended traditional and contemporary elements, evoking an ambience of sophistication and luxury.

The two rooms had wooden flooring and stunning latticework. The decor showcased Rajasthan's heritage, with intricately designed furniture, soft accents, and textiles that demonstrated the skill and craftsmanship of local artisans.

Left to right: Experience curated wellness sessions, relish authentic Rajasthani cuisine, and learn pottery from the in-house expert
Left to right: Experience curated wellness sessions, relish authentic Rajasthani cuisine, and learn pottery from the in-house expert

“Seasonal changes were kept in mind while designing the spaces,” explained Parul Zaveri, the founder of Abhikram, a planning, architecture, interior and conservation consultancy that spearheaded the restoration project of the hotel. “Rooms facing north had fewer windows as the winter winds came from the northeast direction.”

The courtyards were designed to allow more sunlight, warming the space during winter and promoting air circulation to cool down the room during the summer.

The resplendent Rani Rajkumari suite
The resplendent Rani Rajkumari suite

After changing into fresh clothes, I made my way to The Cortile, the fort’s all-day dining restaurant, where I was introduced to Chef Stephen “Stevie” Jones, Barwara’s executive chef. The English chef’s passion for sustainable and healthy dining is reflected in every aspect of the kitchen. “From growing our own food to eliminating plastic usage and minimising food waste, we are trying to make a difference,” he explained while talking about the hotel’s commitment to sustainability. Their "Eat With Six Senses" programme includes principles like using natural ingredients, focusing on local and sustainable options, and promoting the idea that less is more when it comes to food. They can also provide nutrition advice that is right for each guest to amplify the benefits of their daily treatments and activities.

For my meal that day, I was served specially curated dishes that included a baked watermelon infused with soy (an unlikely but flavourful combination), tofu stuffed cabbage with broth, and buckwheat noodles with lots of veggies. The meal was rounded off with a delicious mango and chia seed pudding for dessert.

Nestled in serenity, Six Senses Fort Barwara offers a perfect escape from the break-neck pace of city life. With a range of activities to indulge in, this destination has something for every traveller. Does it meet the high expectations created after the #Vik-Kat wedding? Yes, it does. The best part? You can meet the majestic tigers of Ranthambore within an hour’s drive from the place.

Getting There

The Six Senses Fort Barwara can be reached by car (4-hour drive from Delhi, 2.5-hour drive from Jaipur), airplane (a 40-minute flight from Delhi), or train (3.5-hour journey from Delhi).

About Chauth Ka Barwara

Chauth Ka Barwara boasts numerous attractions, with its most distinguished landmark being the Chauth Mata Temple. Perched atop a 1000 ft hill, this ancient temple holds a special significance for married women who flock to it from all corners of Rajasthan during the festival of Karva Chauth. You can also explore the Ranthambore Fort and National Park, both just an hour away.

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