Hotel Review – Fort Jadhavgadh Heritage Hotel
Fort Jadhavgadh – A fantastic confluence of history and modern luxury
Finally, after years of admiring those beautiful heritage hotels of Rajasthan, we have something similar in Maharashtra as well. Punekars would understand the analogy here…What would you call an interesting amalgamation of ‘Shaniwar Wada’, ‘Raja Kelkar Museum’ and a luxurious five star hotel? Fort Jadhavgadh Heritage Hotel is such a fantastic confluence of Maratha history and modern luxury. And it is only an hour’s drive from Pune! I heard about this place for the first time a couple of weeks back from a friend, and the brief description definitely got me interested to learn more. At the first opportunity, we decided to drive down there.
Jadhavgadh is not a grand fort perched up on top of steep mountains. People who go there expecting a Sinhagad or Raigad type of a setting will be disappointed. Also remember that this was not built as a grand palace, but more as a fortified residence of a powerful Maratha Sardar. It is a relatively small fort (A ‘Gadhi’ in Marathi…) built in the early part of the 18th century, on top of a small hill. As you approach it, you will notice the impressive stone fortifications, typical of forts of that time. The ramparts still look quite impressive. The restoration work is simply fabulous. From the walls, to the wooden doors, to the stairways, to the main entrance – small minute details have been taken into account in this terrific refurbishment project. Looking at it, one really wishes that someday, the Shaniwar Wada could be restored to this standard!
There is an entrance charge of Rs. 500 per person that is adjustable against your restaurant bill. As you enter through the main entrance, you are greeted by traditionally dressed ‘Mavles’ (Maratha soldiers from the Shivaji/Peshwe era…). You also might encounter another interesting surprise or two…I will leave that for you to find it for yourself…
The entrance is like a typical fort entrances of those times. The impressive wooden main door leads into a small passage that takes right angle turns. This was standard design practice to slowdown the advance of an attacking army. The main entrance also has the manager office, quite aptly named, the ‘Killedar’ (Chief of the fort). Some carefully preserved artifacts line the main stairway, which leads to the main courtyard. This courtyard is where you get the first glimpse of 21st century luxury in the midst of this 18th century structure. Modern hotel rooms are located along the periphery, and one side of this quadrangular area has the coffee shop and the conference rooms. The next layer of fortifications can be seen in the middle courtyard. A small stairway leads to the top of this fortified structure, and to the topmost point inside this fort. This level has a swimming pool and an open air barbeque restaurant. The view from up here is pretty nice.
We had a good leisurely lunch at the Coffee Shop ‘Chajja’ sitting in the balcony that is located directly above the fort’s main entrance. There was a pleasant breeze that made sitting outside a better option. We ordered from the Ala Carte menu. On weekends, they also have a buffet. The menu is fairly limited, but does have the common North Indian dishes and basic sandwiches and breakfast items. They also have a few traditional Maharashtrian dishes. We ordered some Tandoori dishes and a ‘Methi Dal’. All of them were pretty decent. The only disappointment was the Maharashtrian ‘Flower Batata Rassa’. Its taste was distinctively Punjabi with no hint of any Maharashtrian flavor. Something for them to improve on…since one definitely expects good Maharashtrian food at such a historic Maratha place! The prices are on the higher side (lunch for two would run into Rs.1000 -1500), but then I guess that’s the price to pay for getting this type of service in these surroundings!
We briefly looked at the hotel rooms and they looked quite good. It is great to observe how they have created all the modern day luxuries and five star comforts inside this historic fort. In the evenings, the barbeque restaurant on the rooftop is an added attraction. Jadhavgadh heritage hotel is targeting the luxury retreat traveler, as well as the business traveler – specifically for off-site seminars and meetings.
Overall, the hotel is excellent, especially given that it is the first luxury heritage hotel in Maharashtra. There is room for some small improvements in certain areas.
The best part of this heritage hotel complex though is not the hotel itself. It is the amazing Maratha artifacts museum that showcases a small percentage of the collection of Mr. Kamat (owner of the Jadhavgadh Hotel and the Orchid Group). Various objects from the 18th, 19th and early 20th century have been carefully preserved, restored and demonstrated behind glass panes, in an air-conditioned environment. Objects include Nut-Crackers, Kitchen Equipment, Tobacco Pipes, Jewellery Boxes, Mirrors, etc. This place really reminds you of a smaller version of the Raja Kelkar museum. This museum is located in the old stable, just outside the fort. The stable building has been beautifully restored to look like an impressive ‘Wada’. For this, various original wood building pieces such as columns, balconies and other pieces have been obtained from other old and decrepit Wadas elsewhere in Maharashtra. They have been carefully restored and assembled here. This building probably provides the best view anywhere in Maharashtra of how the grand Wadas of Maratha Sardars once looked! It literally takes you to that period.
Overall, Jadhavgadh was a great experience for us, and we do plan to visit this place regularly. To reach there from Pune, first head towards Hadapsar, and then turn towards Fursungi onto the Saswad Road. This is the traditional ‘Palkhi’ route. After about 30 min, you start climbing the Dive Ghat. The Jadhavgadh heritage hotel is located just after the end of this Ghat. Prominent road signs will guide you towards the fort.
Link to Fort Jadhavgadh website, click here.
Contact Number: +91 2115 238 475