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Brothers’ 17th Century Haveli Offers 200-YO Recipes, Jawai Leopard Trails & Village Walks

Bhanwar Paramveer Singh Deora and his brother, Bhanwar Veer Vinod Singh restored their 17th-century haveli into a new-age homestay. With its architecture, structure and charm intact, the Rawla Bisalpur offers authentic Rajasthani meals prepared using 200-year-old recipes.

Brothers’ 17th Century Haveli Offers 200-YO Recipes, Jawai Leopard Trails & Village Walks

When I was a kid, one of the stories my imagination would create was one where I would become a princess. While I grew up watching European princesses in their beautiful gowns, there was something about the idea of an Indian princess that always made me want to be like them.

The dazzling dresses, the grand palaces, and the luxurious lifestyle always attracted me. On a trip to Jaipur, I found myself touching the walls of palaces and havelis and imagining what it would have been like to be one of the royals living in them.

Well, this was a childhood dream, and while it might seem fanciful to many, you can actually experience this dream by staying in a 17th-century haveli (palace) in Rajasthan. 

Rawla Bisalpur, a boutique homestay located near the Jawai Bandh on the Aravalli Range, almost halfway between Udaipur and Jodhpur, is the royal haveli of your dreams. 

“If our walls could talk, they would tell you the brave tales of our ancestors who lived inside the haveli,” Bhanwar Paramveer Singh Deora, the current co-owner of Rawla Bisalpur tells The Better India. 

A Royal Homestay

The bones of the homestay, which is a five-hour drive away from Jaipur,  date back to the 17th century when Paramveer’s ancestors ruled the land. Running the place with his brother, Bhanwar Veer Vinod Singh, he recounts his initial idea of setting up the place. 

“The idea to convert our ancestral home into a homestay hotel came to me while I was pursuing my post-graduation in pharmaceuticals in Mumbai and working in pharmaceutical research and development. Despite having a science background with no prior experience in hospitality, I harboured a dream to create a homestay,” he says. 

Rawla Bisalpur Homestay
Rawla Bisalpur Homestay

The duo decided to move closer to home and start convincing their parents. “My elder brother, an engineer, and I faced significant challenges convincing our parents. They were sceptical and worried that I was too young and that leaving a stable job would waste both time and money,” he shares. 

He continues, “Their scepticism was also rooted in the belief that only large properties, like the grand havelis in Jaipur with 50 or 100 rooms, could attract guests. However, I was convinced that a smaller, more intimate setting would work just as well. After persistent persuasion, my father finally agreed during Diwali in 2017, offering to finance the project while leaving the execution up to me.” 

For several years, they remained deeply involved in the project, networking with individuals in the travel industry and inviting experts to provide feedback. 

“We began the restoration process and in 2019, we proudly opened our homestay, blending our rich heritage with modern hospitality, allowing visitors to experience the charm and history of our ancestral home,” he says. 

During the restoration, the duo decided to maintain the original structure while enhancing the ground floor, which was previously unused.

“Our family continued living on the first floor, keeping our personal and guest spaces separate. The restoration aimed to preserve the original architecture, using local artisans without involving any architects, engineers, or designers due to the small and remote location,” he explains. 

The front façade of the haveli resembles a mud castle built from lime, mud, and bricks without any stonework.

“This traditional construction method has a natural temperature-regulating effect, keeping the interiors warm in winter and cool in summer. We focused on restoring the flooring and ensuring the guests’ comfort while preserving the historical essence of the place.” 

Talking about the problems he faced during the restoration work, he says, “Removing the original big stones from the flooring was a difficult task. Additionally, restoring the area that used to serve as stables was particularly challenging due to its location at the base of a hill, which caused rainwater to flow naturally into the structure. We needed to restore the flooring in this area as well, ensuring it remained true to the original construction methods.”

“Finding suitable stones and artisans capable of replicating the old techniques was tough. Fortunately, we found a villager, though he had issues with his knee and leg, who was experienced with stonework and helped us restore the flooring to its original condition.”

Of royals and royal stories 

Restoring the place to its original glory while keeping its soul intact was very important due to the rich history of the haveli

Recounting the fascinating story, Paramveer says, “Our story dates back approximately 500 years, rooted in the state of Sirohi, which is around 50 km from my current home. My ancestors lived in that area, and in those times, it was common to leave one’s place and fight to secure and travel across lands on the Maharaja’s instructions.”

One notable ancestor of Paramveer resided in Udaipur, near the picturesque Pichola Lake, on a hill known as Haridas Ji Ki Makri—’Malri’ meaning a small hill.

“He lived there with his army. The Maharana of Udaipur had issues with a troublesome tribe in the area where we now live, in Bisalpur. This area was on the border between Jodhpur and Udaipur at that time.”

“The Maharana instructed my ancestor, Rao Haridasi, to suppress these rivals. He successfully conquered the land, and in 1705, this territory, comprising 24 villages, was granted to my family, making us direct subjects of the Maharana. Since then, from 1705 onwards, my family has resided in this area,” he adds. 

The construction of the property has evolved over generations.

“If you look at the pictures, you will notice a distinctive white building with Indo-European architecture, built in 1938 by my great-grandfather. This architecture is unique compared to traditional Rajasthani styles, which often feature intricate jharokhas (overhanging enclosed balconies) and jaali (latticework) designs.” 

The haveli was restored keeping intact the original structure and design.
The haveli was restored keeping intact the original structure and design.

“Converting our ancestral home into a hotel in 2019 was a significant step, allowing us to share our rich history and heritage with visitors from around the world,” he adds.

What can you do at the haveli?

Guests visiting the homestay can indulge in a variety of activities, primarily focused on leopard safaris and nature experiences. 

“We offer customised jeep safaris, ensuring a unique and immersive adventure. Upon checking in, guests have the option to enjoy lunch at the homestay or take a packed meal,” he says. 

“In the afternoon, we embark on the safari, bringing along a delightful high tea setup, complete with homemade tea, coffee, cookies, and other treats. We set up near Jawai Lake, a man-made lake constructed by the Maharaja of Jodhpur in 1952 for drinking and agricultural purposes. As the sun sets, we venture out in search of leopards,” he adds. 

After the safari, guests can relax with drinks and enjoy a campfire, sharing stories with fellow travellers.

“For dinner, we offer a unique dining experience in a restored old stable, creating an authentic and cosy atmosphere. Our meals feature regional and seasonal dishes, prepared using 200-year-old family recipes. We source almost all ingredients locally, ensuring fresh and authentic flavours,” he says. 

If guests stay for multiple nights and are interested in bird watching, they organise bird-watching tours around the lake and nearby hilly areas in the mornings. 

‘Armed with high-quality binoculars and cameras, guests can spot and identify various bird species from our comprehensive booklet, which features over 100 birds,” he says. 

Bhanwar Paramveer Singh Deora and his brother, Bhanwar Veer Vinod Singh co-founders of the homestay.
Bhanwar Paramveer Singh Deora and his brother, Bhanwar Veer Vinod Singh — co-founders of the homestay.

“Additionally, we arrange picnics at our farm, where guests can enjoy a traditional farmers’ lunch, ‘Dal Batti Churma,; served in a small hut. This offers a peaceful and picturesque setting to spend the afternoon, weather permitting,” he adds.

Gaby Deeming, who came from London to stay at the homestay, says, “The stay in the magical home was truly amazing. It feels rare and wonderful with very comfortable rooms and traditional decorations. The food was another delight during the stay which I had not experienced before. I also went for the leopard safari and was left absolutely stunned by the place’s landscape.” 

“The idea behind setting up the homestay was also to make sure that this is a place where future generations would want to stay. If I had spent most of my time in the city working a 9 to 5, my kids would not want to come back here. This cycle would repeat itself and the rich culture that this place has would be lost in the debris of time,” he says. 

(Edited by Padmashree Pande; All Pictures Credit: Rawla Bisalpur)

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