When Fort Bishangarh was erected in the late 18th century, luxuries were doubtless few and far between. The warrior fortress, set high among the shadowy folds and precipitous peaks of India’s ancient Aravalli Range, counted among its extravagances 10-foot-thick walls and many a towering granite burj—all the better to protect its Rajput royalty from Mughal invaders. More than 200 years later, however, those indestructible walls and foreboding turrets guard a magnificent oasis, where the greatest conflict is deciding between an Ayurvedic spa treatment and a cocktail by the pool.
Opened in July, Alila Fort Bishangarh is the result of a 7-year renovation by the Jaipur-based designer Ritu Khandelwal, who infused the mighty monolith with a glamorous dose of romance and ritual. Intricate jaali screens, block-printed fabrics, and local artifacts breathe new life into the fort’s original stone arches, columns, and walls, which were reconfigured to form 59 lavish suites along with three restaurants, a spa, a library, and a bar and cigar room.
Outside, a tranquil pool stretches from an airy haveli-style entrance to manicured orchards. Beyond their chic citadel, guests can explore the tucked-away treasures of Rajasthan with hot-air-balloon rides, hikes through the hills, and tours of historic temples and forts—none of which, to be sure, re-create the royal flavor of their past quite like Alila Fort Bishangarh.