A view of River Ganga and Varanasi’s ghats from BrijRama Palace. Photograph: Anshuman Sen
I used to be puzzled. After an hour-long automotive trip from the airport, my driver pulled over at Bhaisasur Ghat and requested me to alight. He deposited my baggage in a ship, the place a uniformed man was ready for me, and informed me to hop on. I later understood why BrijRama Palace, the most recent luxe deal with on this historic metropolis, had despatched a non-public motorboat for me. Varanasi’s slender lanes make it tough to succeed in the property by automotive. Cycle rickshaws are the apparent choice, however once you’re arriving at a royal deal with, why not do it in type?
The unique construction of the BrijRama Palace, constructed as a fort by a Maratha minister, dates again to 1812 and is certainly one of Varanasi’s oldest buildings. An elevator (I’m informed South Asia’s first was put in right here again within the early twentieth century) trip as much as the foyer from the ghats results in a standard welcome and a relaxing glass of thandai.
A stroll across the lodge’s royal interiors exposes one to a mishmash of architectural kinds, reflecting the change of fingers through the years. Whereas the lined pillars, semicircular bastions and floral motifs are all Maratha components, the Greco-Roman statuettes and carvings of Ganges river dolphins have been effected by the Maharaja of Darbhanga (in modern-day Bihar), who acquired the construction in 1915.
The present house owners, 1589 Motels, have stored all of it and spent 18 years restoring the property. The outcomes are evident within the handpainted frescoes, thekari paintings and wooden-blade ceiling followers, a design component from the ’40s.
The heritage lodge has 32 rooms and suites, a lot of which overlook River Ganga. Mine was a Vasundhara Room, one of many highest classes, made up of a residing space, bed room, and white-marble lavatory with a stand-alone tub, bathe and Kama Ayurveda toiletries. Nonetheless, if it’s the view you’re after, goal for the 300sqft Varuna Burj Room, which provides a 180° panorama of the Ganga’s crescent route.
On condition that this property is situated bang on the sacred ghats, you’re not going to get any meat or alcohol (though eggs could be made to order for breakfast). However you received’t thoughts going vegetarian once you feast on the Banarasi thali on the multicuisine Darbhanga restaurant. The wealthy affair consists of 9 hearty dishes, together with Banarasi dum aloo, matar nimona (mashed-pea curry) and ghughuri (Bengal-gram curry), together with crispy, vibrant sago papads and your selection of bread.
Don’t let this massive fats meal weigh you down; included in your tariff is a ship trip to the famed (and much-Instagrammed) night Ganga aarti, on the close by Dashashwamedh Ghat. One other of town’s main pilgrimage sights, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, is a mere 600m away. When you’re up for it, rise at 6am (or 5, relying on the season) for a complimentary session of yoga on the terrace. You possibly can additionally guide a non-public meal on board a ship and sail down the river. And to finish the Banarasi expertise, you’re even handed a copy of the Bhagavad Gita on checkout. A timeless memento of your keep on this timeless metropolis.
Deal with: Darbhanga Ghat, close to Munshi and Dashashwamedh Ghat, Varanasi
Doubles from ￼Rs20,000