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Destination of the Month

Deogarh

Deogarh, also known as Devgarh is formerly an estate of the Chundawats Rajputs. The Rawats of Deogarh once reigned over the fourth largest 'jagir' in entire Rajasthan. Dwarka Dasji was one of the 16 'umraos' - the senior most feudal barons attending on the Maharana of Udaipur. At its most extensive, their territory comprised some 210 villages, with one of their defensive forts as far as 100 kms away.

Deogarh has an average elevation of 638 meters (2,093 feet) and is situated on the eastern side of the Aravali Ranges on top of a small hill. The town is bordered by rocks in the east, Kali Ghati (Aravali Range) in the west, Nathdwara Ghats in the south, and Ajmer in the north. A small pond rests at its base and provides abundant wildlife that includes spectacular animals and bird sanctuaries.

Deogarh Mahal – the main attraction of Deogarh now converted in a heritage hotel was founded in 1670 by Rawal Dwarka Das Ji as a family residence. The palace gradually became a focal point of village activities. The family interacted with the villagers and invited a host of banquets and celebrations to be performed within the Mahal confines. This was a time when many of the region's chieftains started putting down more substantial roots. The enjoyment of their revenue-producing lands had traditionally been more temporary – open, at least in theory, to variation every few years. But recent Maharanas had not been strong enough to enforce these ancient procedures and an expectation of more permanent, hereditary justifies had gradually taken hold and the prospect of continuity encouraged a proliferation of new towns and palaces, which, because of that weakness in the capital, were invariably highly fortified – partly in simple defiance of the declining central authority and partly as a matter of self-defense in the increasingly unsettled environment, which resulted from that decline.

Do not forget to take the train ride through wooded hills from Deogarh to Phulad on a 1930's train, as seen in the film "The Man Who Would Be King" starring Sir Sean Connery and Sir Michael Caine. This 1975 film was adapted from Rudyard Kipling of "The Jungle Book" fame novel of the same title. The film follows two rogue ex-non-commissioned officers of the Indian Army who set off from late 19th-century British India in search of adventure and end up as kings of Kafiristan – a remote part of Afghanistan. The story was inspired by the exploits of James Brooke, an Englishman who became the first White Rajah of Sarawak in Borneo. So enthralling is the story that it was adapted by Hollywood director John Huston into a full length feature film of the same name, starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine as the adventurers and Christopher Plummer as Kipling. This classic film was released in 1975. Fascinatingly, parts of the movie were shot in this location and on this train.

Rural train ride from Phulad to Khamblighat, this journey by a local train across the Aravalli range is a pleasant experience. The train traverses the hills in one gradual giant right turn switchback, all the while gaining gently in elevation. In the process of negotiating the sharpest part of the railroad track the train crosses a couple of viaducts. The ride then continues slowly uphill offering fine views of a vast valley, small deep gorges and distant ridges, before easing into the plateau of Khamblighat. The train stops only once in a vague station in the middle of sparsely wooded expanse of virgin landscape, where monkeys descend upon the windows expecting and getting their treat of biscuits, while handful of passengers get off and board.

Deogarh is also renowned as a school of miniature painting. Some Deogarh miniatures beautify the personal collection of the present Rawat Sahib. Frescoes of this art form can also be seen on the fort walls. The Mahal also has some exhilarating rooms to glance through - Sheesh Mahal that is a colorful hall of various mirrors is just among those rooms. The Deogarh School was a breakaway from the major Mewar School in Udaipur. A saturation of artists in the capital encouraged some of them to strike out on their own in search of new patrons. In Deogarh, as in all of Rajasthan, their work was dominated by scenes from the private lives and court ceremonies of the ruling Rawats, with occasional sorties into territory such as the Krishna Lila for light relief.

Walking down to the village of Deogarh, one of the cleanest, safest and friendliest in the area, to explore the rural lifestyle is highly recommended, bicycles are easily available for guests who would like to go on wheels.

Jeep safaris to explore the local countryside and hiking in the surrounding hills with picnic meals is a convenient way to experience the rugged countryside and introduces one to a variety of exciting panoramas and the avian life.