Amit Paranjape’s Blog

Hotel Review – Fort Jadhavgadh Heritage Hotel

Posted in Hotels & Restaurants, Pune by Amit Paranjape on November 4, 2008

 

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.

Location on Sadakmap: Click here, to checkout the location on sadakmap.com

Contact Number: +91 2115 238 475

 

8 Responses

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  1. Nilesh Sane said, on November 4, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    Just what I was looking for as a getaway. Though I am puzzled that a self confessed non-vegetarian like yourself didn’t mention any thing about “rassas”.
    Thanks for the lead, this one appears like it’s a must visit for reasons apart from just food.

  2. Unmesh said, on November 4, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    Add a thumbs up from me. I happened to stay here for a night last month and must say that the rooms are quite nicely done and most rooms typically share a fort wall. The kids had fun playing war games looking through the gun holes in the fort wall on the balcony. The surroundings were lush green (we caught the last monsoon showers). A visit to the dungeon is a must with the kids. A great getaway sans a long drive – cant beat that. Do try the kanda-bhaji and rasmalai.

  3. Amit Paranjape said, on November 4, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    Nilesh – Thanks for your comments. Yes, they do have the traditional Kolhapuri ‘Rassas’ on the menu!

    I need to correct your statement, I am not a self-confessed non-vegetarian -:). I prefer veg food in general.

  4. Nikhil S. Joshi said, on November 6, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Dear Mr. Amit,

    I would like to introduce myself as Mr. Nikhil S. Joshi – Manager Marketing Communications and would like to thank you for the Blog.

    We appreciate your views on Fort Jadhavgadh. Also with reference to customizing the menu with respect to Maharashtrian taste would be taken up seriously and would discuss the same with the Khan Pan Vaivasthapak (F&B Manager) and also Killedar (GM).

    Once again I would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you.

    Thanking You,

    Nikhil S. Joshi

    Manager – Marketing Communications

  5. Chetan Gadgil said, on November 11, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    Sounds like a place I missed earlier!

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  8. Harshad said, on January 4, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    Fort Jadhavgah is the fort of a Maratha sardar restored as a hotel by the Orchid (Vithal Kamat) group. The place is a good blend of the old stone structure coupled with the luxuries that one has come to expect from a hotel/resort. The website has an address which when clicked upon (& routed through Google Maps) takes you to the heart of Pune city, a place that is far from the actual hotel. Also you will decide, sadly too late, that the direction boards planted at the side of the highway are too far and few to actually help you with reaching the place and the lack of directions will leave you frustrated. Coming to the place, while the place has been done up well, there is precious little to do there. At best one can spend one night at the place as by the next morning one would’ve seen all that it has to offer. The ‘akhaada’ is being built (something you see no signs of). They couldve done well to atleast place a few carrom and table tennis tables for the patrons. Some screenings of films on Marathas etc would have gone a long way in getting the mood right. Service is patchy and wthe irony is that we received the best service when we were checking out.
    Again, when I say this it is possible that I’m playing to perfection the role of a spooky city slicker but these are what I felt were clear shortcomingsb given that the place has been open for a while now


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