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TYPICAL RESTORATION WORK DONE AT HERITAGE PROPERTIES

Gujarat, comprising the regions of the Kathiawad peninsula (Saurashtra), Kachch peninsula and mainland Gujarat, had more than 200 rulers belonging to various communities - Rajputs, Marathas, Muslim Nawabs, Shiya Muslims, Patels, Siddis, each one of which had its own architectural style. In addition to these Gujarat is known for the havelis and mansions of the baniyas, Jains, Bohra Muslims and other merchantile communities.

The heritage properties of Gujarat have been restored and appointed according to their history and tradition. All the properties, except Balaram Palace Resort, are owned by descendants of their builders. These range from the palaces and royal guest houses of gun salute states like Bhavnagar, Gondal, Wankaner, Balasinor and Rajpipla, the colonial-period guest houses of Danta, Sayla and Jambugoda, and the rural abodes of the rulers of Poshina and Utelia, to the Balaram Palace Resort that was the weekend retreat and hunting lodge of the Nawab of Palanpur now a palace resort run by private entrepreneur. An example of adaptive reuse of an old building is House of Mangaldas, whose owners have renovated their 1920s ancestral mansion to house three restaurants, with rooms coming up in the near future.

Heritage properties at Santrampur, Rajpipla, Chhota Udepur, Wadhwan, Kotda Sangani, etc are under renovation.

A TYPICAL CELEBRATION, THEME PARTY

Being an industrial state, Gujarat's heritage hotels offer a wide range of facilities for theme parties, conferences, board meetings, etc, suitable for both tourists and corporate groups. Balaram Palace Resort near Palanpur, Nilambag Palace Hotel at Bhavnagar and Rajwant Palace Resort at Rajpipla have hosted conferences and parties of multi-national companies.

PERFORMING ARTS AS SEEN IN THE HERITAGE HOTELS

Each heritage hotel of Gujarat promotes the traditional performances of the local tribes and pastoral groups. Darbargadh Poshina, Bhavani Villa (Danta) and Balaram Palace Resort, all three in north Gujarat, arrange Garasia and Bhil tribal dances. The Palace Utelia, Nilambag Palace and Dil Bahar at Bhavnagar, the palaces of Gondal, Old Bell Guest at Sayla, the palaces of Wankaner, Vijay Vilas at Palitana, and other properties of Saurashtra are promoting Dandia-Raas and Garba of the local people and the pastoral groups like the Rabaris and Bharwads. Gondal's palaces also arrange sword dances of the Rajputs and the African-style Dhamal dances of the Siddis. Balasinor and Rajpipla offer Bhil dances. Chhota Udepur and Jambugodas' heritage hotels are known for their Rathwa, Bhil and Nayaka tribal dances. Shiv Mahal at Vadodara offers excellent garba performances.

THE CONCEPT OF GUEST......

At most heritage hotels of Gujarat, guests are received with garlands, tikka, welcoming music by traditionally attired staff. The reception varies with the property.

ENHANCING VILLAGE COMMUNITY LIFE

Most of our member properties are located in tribal/rural areas or in small towns. They are contributing to the local economy in terms of employment, promotion of handicrafts (bought by tourists) and performing arts/fairs/festivals, hiring of vehicles and tribal guides, improvement of roads and environment. Sarita Hotel, Juna Mandwa offers boating on the river Narmada, an important source of local income.

CALENDAR OF PROMINENT FAIRS AND FESTIVALS

Name of Fairs and Festivals Nearest Heritage Hotel
Uttrayana or Makar Sankranti and the International Kite Festival (January 14) Best celebrated at Ahmedabad (House of Mangaldas),
Bhavnagar (Nilambag Palace Hotel) and other urban cities
Modhera Dance Festival, Modhera Sun Temple (January) Balaram Palace Resort 
Bhavnath Shivratri Fair (Feb/March) Riverside & Orchard Palace, Gondal
Kawant Fair (March) Kusum Vilas (Chhota Udepur) and Jambugoda Palace Nature Lovers' retreat
Holi (March) Fairs near Rajpipla, Chhota Udepur, Santrampur, Juna Mandwa, etc
Chitra Vichitra Tribal Fair (March/April) Darbargadh Poshina and Bhavani Villa (Danta)
Tarnetar Fair (August/September) Royal Oasis & Residency (Wankaner) and Old Bell Guest House (Sayla)
Badhra Poornima, Ambaji (September) Bhavani Villa (Danta), Darbargadh Poshina and Balaram Palace Resort
Navratri (September) Best at Shiv Mahal, Vadodara
also at heritage hotels of Bhavnagar, Gondal, etc.
Dusserra (October) Best at Chhota Udepur
Sidhapur Camel Fair (Oct/Nov) Balaram Palace Resort
Vautha Camel and Donkey Fair (Oct/Nov) The Palace Utelia

DIVERSITY OF CUISINE

Mughlai cuisine at the Nawab of Balasinor's Garden Palace; Continental and Kathiawadi cuisine at the palaces of Gondal; Rajasthani cuisine at Poshina; Kathiawadi cuisine at Utelia; Gujarati thali at Agashiye; Sea food at the Bhavnagar properties; Malwa cuisine at Vijay Vilas, Palitana; Maratha cuisine at Vadodara; Multi-cuisine at Balaram Palace Resort; and so forth

THE FAMILY TOUCH

Most of the heritage properties in Gujarat are family owned and run, with guests personally looked after by the owners. Guests can go riding with the royal couple at Danta, be received by the Utelia family attired traditionally, have silver-service tea with the royal family at Gondal, dine with His Highness of Wankaner, visit tribal villages with the Poshina family, enjoy Mughlai cuisine with the Nawab and Begum of Balasinor, and so forth.

ECO-FRIENDLY PROPERTIES

A unique aspect of the heritage hotels of Gujarat is that most member properties have been restored and renovated with minimal construction and furniture. Some properties, like those at Balaram, Danta and Jambugoda, are located in wildlife sanctuaries and are promoting eco-tourism.

ACCESS

Gujarat has some of the best highways in India. Several heritage hotels offer stopovers on important highways eg Old Bell Guest House at Sayla on Ahmedabad-Rajkot National Highway 8, Riverside Palace at Gondal off Ahmedabad-Porbandar NH 8, Wankaner Palace en route Ahmedabad to Bhuj, Balaram Palace Resort off NH 14, The Palace Utelia off Ahmedabad-Bhavnagar highway, etc.

Another asset in Gujarat is the number of airports and excellent railway network. Most of the heritage hotels are conveniently situated within two hours driving distance of Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar, Rajkot, Vadodara, and other airports, or railway stations like Palanpur.