Our first “hotel” we stayed at on our trip to India,was the perfect place to introduce us to the history, culture, present and people of India.
Fort Chanwa is located in Luni which is a rural village in Jodhpur. When we arrived in Dehli we were asked by the airport employees, customs checks and Indian travelers, where we were going. When we mentioned Luni, we’d get a chuckle and a repeat of the town name in jest. We couldn’t figure out why this was the reaction they were giving us and finally asked, “Why?” and the only answer they gave us was “Oh, no, nothing” with more chuckles. We still have no idea why Luni was so funny, but we assume it is because it is so far away from everything.
We were completely fine with that! We wanted to experience India like we lived there, not just visit all the tourist areas. Granted, the locals did not get to live at places like Fort Chanwa unless they were employed there, but it did give us a better idea of what it is like in the more rural areas.
It was a rustic drive from the airport in Jodhpur along dirt roads covered with cows and dogs, the occasional herd of camels or goats and many women and children doing their daily errands.
We finally arrived at what looked like a castle sitting smack in the middle of a poor village. Fort Chanwa was built in 1884 to serve as the home of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II, Ruler of Jodhpur, Marwar. You take one step out of the small village under a stone entrance way and you travel back through history to the India of long ago. The entire fortress is carved out of the famous red sandstone of Jodhpur and is ornately carved with lattice work friezes and intricate “Jharokas”. It is absolutely beautiful. The gardens are amazing with green parrots flying into the trees every morning to welcome you to breakfast and the (mostly) men that work there as stewards, housekeepers, servants, chefs, and so on, greet you with that welcoming spirit as well.
Before our trip, we were worried about sleeping and bathroom amenities once we got to India, but were greatly surprised as to the accommodations here. The architecture of the rooms is amazing and the bathrooms are nothing out of the ordinary for an American.
There is not much to do during the day here, unless you book tours and experiences, which we did. In fact, these were our favorite tours while in India. Jen wrote about those here- https://commonasstravelerblog.com/2017/01/27/the-tour-to-die-for/ . But at dinner time, the fort comes to life. Meals are all in the courtyard and at dinner time the bus tours arrive for dinner and a show. (We were the only two people staying the entire week. It was great, we got to know the people working at the fort and made lasting friends that we still see on facebook.)
Dinner is buffet style and is filled with assortments of rices, curries, breads and desserts; like Jalebi, the best dessert I have ever tasted. (I’m sure I’ll write a whole post about it at a later date) Before dinner each night, the blessing and cleansing of the fort with a bell and incense ceremony took place followed by musicians and a dancer in the middle of the courtyard. It was so pleasant to sit under the lights after a meal and enjoy the entertainment. We would then retire to our room and sleep in just the right temperature under the ceiling fan, but not before we would get to hear the nightly chant from the Ganesh temple right outside the fort entrance.
Fort Chanwa was a marvelous place to stay to introduce us to this Indian culture that we had only read about or saw in pictures. It is still our favorite part of our almost month long trip and I can not wait to go back!