Delhiites, and travellers from across the globe looking for an offbeat Rajasthani experience, or simply a heritage getaway.
Tucked away into the far end of northern Rajasthan, Churu in a gist, is a potpourri of bubblegum pink and pista green homes, a clutter of vehicles careening through narrow alleyways, rows of kaleidoscopic, albeit locked doors, and swirling sand dunes. And in the midst of it all, Malji Ka Kamra stands tall, under the Rajasthan skies like an other-worldly, grandiose wonder.
In 1920 AD, a wealthy, Marwari merchant, Mal Chand Kothari, built a plush guesthouse for the Maharaja of Bikaner, Ganga Singh. Thereupon, Malji Ka Kamra has been transformed into a hub of merrymaking, hosting extravagant ballroom waltzes and other events of performing arts for dignitaries, artists and merchants from across the globe, for years now.
Working on translating wealth into artistic expression, for a tireless 17 years, the haveli was gradually festooned with Venetian pillars, a heady mix of Italian and Shekhawati architectural influences and flamboyant stucco figurines of men and women enacting a range of dance moves. If one looks closely, slivers of Mughal styles can be found in the haveli's other charming mannerisms, such as the antiquated frescoes layering the distressed walls which are etched with flowers and vines, birds and butterflies, the artists playing on the Mughal perception of 'paradise'. A large chunk of the 19th century also saw legendary scenes from the Hindu epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana being engraved on the walls.
On the arrival of dusk in Churu, the sounds of the nearby bazaar drop away and the surrounding havelis, if it's even possible, become just a bit more alluring. Dating back to the 18th century, the crimson and blue windows of the havelis glisten under the light of the dying sun, and if you let yourself really listen to the distant melody of the folksy sarangi tune, you can picture the footfalls of the women of the havelis, running about, the chime of their ghungroos echoing through the sandstone archways.
Malji Ka Kamra boasts of an inventory of 12 rooms. These are categorised as follows – the comfort rooms, on the ground floor, the haveli rooms, that are located on the first and second floor of the property, with an attached balcony. The heritage rooms are located on the first floor and come with original frescos. Most of these rooms come with private sit-outs overlooking the lawn and nearby mansions.￼
The erstwhile ballroom of the property, serves as the main dining hall. While you can expect authentic Rajasthani fare of bajra rotis, kair sangeri (desert beans), mooli kachra, gatte ki sabzi, lal maas (a spicy mutton delicacy), the chef occasionally mixes it up with dishes that incorporate tradition and simplistic modern cooking.
Comfort rooms: ₹4200
Haveli rooms: ₹6000
Heritage rooms: ₹8000
This tariff includes breakfast.
For further details, you can visit their website.
Churu, sustains an extreme range of temperatures, during summers temperatures soar as high as 48°C. Winter nights are subject to all-time lows of 0°C. The monsoons, from July to September are mild, with sporadic rains. From November to February, days are delightfully pleasant with temperatures ranging in the mid-20s, making it the perfect time to visit the city.
Priding itself to be a concept hotel, Malji Ka Kamra offers a gamut of unique experiences centred in and around Churu.
Heritage Walking Tours: Walking through the convivial streets of Churu, your mind will conjure up cinematic scenes from the bygone eras. One of the most imposing structures you will come across on this tour is the Jain Temple that is an amalgamation of art, ranging from neoclassical Italy to victorian England, with a smattering of Rajasthani vibrance. Teeming with kitschy tones, glassy chessboard floors and splashy crystal chandeliers, this temple is sustained by the descendants of the Kothari family. Another archetype of the forlorn havelis, is the Surana Hawa Mahal Haveli dating back to 1871 AD. This structure is decked with a thousand odd doors and windows, each letting you witness the magnificent sun, soaring or sinking down Churu's landscapes. Sethani Ka Johara, built by the Bagla family in 1899 is also an extremely popular place with locals. Originally built as a water reservoir for the town folk, today it's a popular picnic spot among the guests of Malji ka Kamra, who are often hosted here for high teas, lunches and candle-lit dinners.
Artisan Walking Tour: Churu's main market is quite literally a colourful celebration of its everyday happenings. You'll find yourself walking past bandhej dupattas fluttering away with the wind, giant smoking kadhais simmering with golden pyaaz kachoris and hole-in-the-wall shops swarming with Rajasthani handicrafts and prismatic lac bangles, and jazzy autos skilfully cruising through the crowds.
A jeep safari can also be organised by the staff, wherein you will get to explore the wilderness inhabiting the desert, spot blackbucks and cheetahs, and marvel at the Great Thar's unique flora and fauna that won't let you keep the camera down, for a mere second.
Rail: Churu is a four- to five-hour train ride away from Delhi. The options available are the Bikaner Intercity, Delhi Bikaner SF Express, and Sujangarh Express.
Road: Churu is 280 kilometres and six hours west of Delhi. The route goes via Rewari, Singhana and Jhunjhunu.
Malji Ka Kamra, is centrally located in the town square and is accessible by both taxis and auto-rickshaws.