When we think about Heritage Hotels we head towards Rajasthan? Fort Jadhavgadh presents a heritage hotel in Maharashtra. The story of Fort Jadhavgadh dates back to 1710. Built on a quaint hill in the heart 25 acres of Jadhav Wadi by Pilaji Jadhavrao a valiant Maratha General in the army of Chhatrapati Shahuji. It was built as a place of residence as well as a safe haven when being attacked by enemies & training centre for soldiers. This fort is not as magnanimous as other Maratha Forts like Sinhagad or Raigad but had quite a few architectural similarities and a fine example of Maratha craftsmanship. Fort Jadhavgadh is situated in the beautiful hills of Saswad just 22 KMs away from Pune at a height of 2511 feet above sea level.
I got an opportunity to visit this place with an overnight stay on account of official conference. After a drive of 2.5 hours we reached Fort Jadhavgadh. One should be careful about the entrance towards fort from the highway. We passed through a small village before reaching the fort. We noticed the impressive stone fortifications reminiscent of that era. It was still standing tall and looked quite impressive. The restoration work was performed with exemplary execution. As we entered through the main entrance, we were greeted by traditionally dressed 'Mavles' (Maratha soldiers from the Shivaji/Peshwe era) in Maratha style. I must say a grand reception.
A grand welcome
The entrance is similar to most fort entrances with impressive wooden main door that leads into a small passage to take you inside the premises. This was standard design practice to slowdown the movement of an attacking army. Just after the entrance, some beautiful artifacts were placed alongside the stairway. The entrance also has the reception to take care of formalities. Once you are inside the quadrangular courtyard you get the glimpse of luxury blended with history. Modern hotel rooms are located along the periphery, along with coffee shop and the conference rooms. A small stairway leads to the top of this fortified structure, and to the topmost point inside this fort. This level has a swimming pool and an open air barbeque restaurant. The view of sprawling lawns and hills from this point was quite nice. There was an underground wine cellar which can be approached from the restaurant. Historically this part was used as a jail. We also saw one underground passage built for escape during war. Fort Jadhavgadh also has museum that showcases Maratha artifacts of old era. Due to our tight schedule we were not able to visit the museum.
Inside the periphery
Swimming pool at upper deck
View from upper deck
Way to hidden routes
The path to the rooms is filled with artefacts from the fort, including brass cooking vessels and a giant plate. Most rooms have some part of the original fort walls as part of their design, enhancing the experience of being surrounded by history. Some have a stone wall and many others have balconies dotted with openings through which guns and cannons were fired. The room I stayed in had a stone wall and wooden furniture of old times with all modern facilities. Various original wood building pieces such as columns, balconies and other pieces takes you back to history. This building probably provides the best view anywhere in Maharashtra of how the grand Wadas of Maratha regime once looked. Fort Jadhavgadh also has cottages and tent on the backyard just after the lawns. This heritage hotel has various restaurants for its patron. It has Payatha-the ethnic foothill restaurant, Chhajja - the all-day canopy dining, and Aangan - the outdoor courtyard cafe that offer quality food. I was totally satisfied with the taste and quality of food.
A blend of Heritage with Luxury
Walls decorated with artifacts
A temple in the premises
Fort Jadhavgadh is not as grand and royal as heritage hotels in Rajasthan but it does provide modern amenities catering to International Standards of a leisure hotel, without hurting its heritage status, which truly reflects the spirit of the local province, its people and its customs. The hotel is extremely neat and clean with the natives of the province being courteous hosts. An enriching experience coupled with excellent food made our stay memorable. It is an ideal hotel for luxury retreat traveler, as well as the business traveler - specifically for off-site seminars and meetings. Overall, the hotel is excellent, especially given that it is the first and only luxury heritage hotel in Maharashtra.