Varanasi, popularly known as Benaras or Kashi, situated on the banks of the Ganga, is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world and is one of the most sacred pilgrimages to Hindus. Hinduism mentions ‘Kashi Punya’ – the good karma accumulated by a trip to Varanasi. This city that blends religion, mythology and spirituality offer vibrancy in its culture and in its soothing atmosphere. From Ghats to the Ganges, temples to the pedestrianised maze of alleys, or ‘galis’, beautiful sunrise to Ganga Aarti (a Hindu prayer ritual), Varanasi exudes the spirit of beauty, magic and old world charm. This can now also be enjoyed in the midst of luxury – yes, a paradox, considering Varanasi is a city associated with Moksha or salvation. The Brijrama Palace, Varanasi, offers a discerning traveller the opportunity to have the best of both worlds – the luxury of the material world and the soothing calm of the spiritual world.
At Brijrama Palace, guests are just not travellers; they are “Royal Guests”. The services designed and offered are sure to elevate your expectations of a hotel. The Palace hotel is located at the Darbanga Ghat, but the Brijrama experience starts at the Raj Ghat where we were greeted and escorted to the Bajra (a traditional Indian wooden boat) which took us to the hotel, while we enjoyed the ride and soaked in the enchanting history and beauty of Varanasi and its various ghats.
Conveniently perched on the banks of the sacred Ganga, on the Darbanga Ghat, the Brijrama Palace, is one of the oldest landmarks of the city. The history of the palace dates back to the year 1812, in which it was built by Shridhara Narayana Munshi’ the then minister for the estate of Nagpur. In 1915, the Brahmin King of Darbhanga (Bihar) acquired the palace and the Ghat also came to be known as Darbhanga Ghat. At first, the exterior of the hotel seems to blend in with the ancient architecture of the myriad temples and havelis that dot the 87 ghats on the Ganges. But the first introduction to the kind of heritage it encapsulates between its domes and arches is as soon as you set foot in its 200-year-old elevator. First installed in 1918, the elevator, built to help the Darbanga king climb the second floor of the palace, also boasts of being the first elevator of India. The helpful manager of the concierge quips humorously, “In the old days, there was a man to physically haul the elevator up, but then I guess he got tired doing it after a while.”
When you step into the lobby, the traditional welcome is through the chanting of mantras and anointing you with a chandan ka tika and a rosary that is put around your neck as a blessing.
The second thing that completely overwhelms you is the way the heritage property has been restored. Mr Manhar, GM of the property reveals how, just about five years ago, the abandoned and derelict structure was infested with bats and snakes and how over a four-year period, it was painstakingly restored, while keeping the essence of the original architecture intact. There are pictures that corroborate his description and mind you – it is something that will make you admire Brijrama Palace even more.
The architecture and the design of the palace are directly influenced by the erstwhile ruling dynasty of the Marathas. The sandstone walls and pillars graced with Maratha art accentuate the palace architecture. The Brijrama Palace Hotel has 32 well-appointed rooms divided into some categories – Nadidhara, Dhanurdhara, Vasundhara, Maharaja Suite, Varuna Burj on three different floors. All the rooms have been tastefully done with a traditional Banarasi touch. Traditional lamps, beautiful paintings adorn the walls of the rooms. The rooms boast of time-honoured interiors with a chic twist, convenient bathrooms with super-luxurious bath amenities. The magical ambience at the hotel will definitely leave you spellbound. You can spot plenty of original artworks from the 18th century gracing the walls and pillars of the hotel. The interior is choc-a-bloc with beautiful antiques and exudes sumptuous serenity.
The hotel is a delight for a lover of food. Darbhanga, their multi-cuisine vegetarian restaurant offers multiple cuisines. The chefs at the hotel make sure that they understand your preferences, specific food allergies, and accordingly offer you the preparations to savour. Do savour the traditional banarasi food including Banarasi Thali (a lavish spread of various preparations of the local meal) – the last course of which is the flavoursome world-famous Banarasi paan. The chef can also rustle up Indian, Chinese, Italian, Mexican or Thai delicacies.
The Palace aura will definitely hold your senses and will compel you to soak in its beauty and get intrigued by the Palace history, beautiful traditional architecture, musical mornings and evenings, spectacular view of the Ganges and the Ghats, exclusive dining experience.
The hotel offers customised sight-seeing experiences to its guests – whether it is the evening Aarti at Dasashwamedh Ghat from atop the comfort of your boat, an escorted visit to the various temples (which means you may not have to stand in the serpentine queues) or a day-trip to Sarnath!
A stay at the Brijrama Palace will definitely make the magic and mythology of Varanasi linger on for much longer.
Address: Brijrama Palace, Darbhanga Ghat, Dashashwamedh, Varanasi India 221001
Phone:+91 9129414141 MOBILE+91 7390850072