A timeless heritage stay experience

BrijRama Palace

BrijRama Palace

Varanasi
, Uttar Pradesh
, India

Spread as terraced floors, leading from wide stairways over a solid rock scaffolding and between rounded turrets on either side, the façade reflected on the river is as impressive as the interiors. An old lift chute is a feature retained for antique value, that adds a unique dimension to the view of the fort from the front. Inside, the design includes arches and columns, small courtyards that function as atria bringing in air and light. Every floor has a lounge and a terrace, the piece-de-resistance is of course the views from each and every floor. The terraces offer the best light of the sun for meditation, yoga and breakfast on winter mornings and to watch the sky reflected in various hues of orange over the river at sunset. The property is serviced by a lift from the river to the first floor and another from the first to the third floor. The Lounge on the first and second floors are open and airy places to sit and read or relax over tea time, surrounded by art and artefacts from the private collections of the owners.

The courtyard on the ground floor is a unique space, beautifully restored to retain its original features of rain water outlets along the slight roof, neatly scooped into the stone. The floor of the courtyard pattern in marble is flanked on either side by small alcoves, temple-like to house life size wooden figures of Radha and Krishna. Light streams down the atria during the day while at night the embellished feature walls and roofs of the lounge and sitting spaces glow from all the gold leaf painting. This is also the venue for musical performances in the evening while the terrace is perfect for dance performances under a star-lit sky.

The restoration brought out some of the quirks of an old palace. There are low height doorways that ensured when people enter a room, they enter with respect by bowing. The first historical restoration of the palace was the unique peacock and betel leaf symbol that has been used throughout the palace to showcase good luck. Look out for the secret staircase that opens up to the Chota Angan that is connected to one the suites. This was often used to sneak people in and out of the King’s chambers.

Our Rating: Premium
Property Type: Boutique

Destination

Varanasi will continue to intrigue, astonish and elevate people, in varying degrees – very real emotions as one beholds the Ganges flowing in her many moods irrevocably towards the ocean. To contemplate that this is a city living and thriving for over 5000 years is enough to send a chill down your spine; and with the people’s stories, the myths, the mayhem and the strong currents of religious sentiments, one comes away fascinated. All you can do is speak and think of the city and how life and death exist at such close proximity. You are then either filled with an understanding or a sense of ennui. You may forget your visit soon when you get caught up with your daily life, but something has moved in you imperceptibly!

BrijRama Palace blends into the story of Varanasi as if it was one of the main characters. One look at the location and you will know why. There are reams written about the Ghats of Kashi, each one poignant with myth and insight, lined along the Ganges in a perfect crescent reminiscent of the one resplendent on Shiva’s forehead. BrijRama stands right in the centre of the crescent affording a fabulous view from every level. Formerly the erstwhile Darbhanga Palace, BrijRama traces its origins to the reign of the Marathas reflected in the architectural features that have been painstakingly restored over an 18 year ambitious initiative. Today as a premier luxury hotel upholding all the sentiments of a sacred pilgrimage destination, BrijRama manages to offer a rich melange of services, style and experience. When the Ganges flows low and placid, BrijRama can be accessed over the river from Assi Ghat or Mahishasura Ghat in customised wooden boats with refreshments to Darbhanga Ghat, the palace a fascinating view on the river bank as you draw closer.

Accommodation

Thirty two rooms and suites are offered in five categories (Vasundhara, Nadidhara, Dhanurdhara, Varuna Bhurj and the luxurious Maharaja Suite), over three floors carefully based on its size and views of the river. The decor is elegant with traditional furniture and embellished in the jewel colours of the silks of Benares, and speckled with traditional lamps and beautiful paintings. Hand painted art with pure gold and silver grace the ceilings of each floor. Facilities like tea/coffee stations and ensuite bathrooms marry the traditional all Indian decor and design with the best of modern amenities. The superior rooms offer a classic slipper Clawfoot bath tub with a view of the Ganges.

Dining

The cuisine at BrijRama Palace is vegetarian. Darbhanga is the fine dining restaurant serving a curated menu to include classic Indian recipes and a good variety of world cuisine. BrijRama offers the Varanasi experience from start to finish, from the time you arrive at the hotel, tasting a Thandai (a concoction of milk flavoured with saffron, spices and almonds) on your way across the river, met by their genial team ever ready to speak to you about BrijRama and Benares in the same reverent breath. Every offering be it the ‘Paan’ – a tiny parcel of betel leaf and areca nut famous as a digestive by your bedside to the array of snacks, music and dance performances.

Chota Angan that translates to small courtyard offers a dining experience with low seating and the cuisine includes authentic street food of India. Chota Angan reflects the rich architecture of the palace with intricate glasswork that reflect candlelight in various hues, and the traditional Thikri art in blue and silver.
A special dining experience is possible whilst floating down the river alongside the town. Enjoy the magnificence of this ancient city in the softness of the river, the gentle temple bells as music for company, the floating lamps passing you by whilst soaking in the panoramic views of the Ghats all while you taste a delectable meal.
The Kamalya Cafe is the open air terrace dining option with views of the Ganges. An ideal place to unwind with high tea and snacks after a day strolling the city’s sights. The cafe also doubles up as a library corner in the indoor seating area with an interesting selection of books.

Experiences

Panaya – a store that showcases the crafts and textiles of Benares, walks into the lanes and introduction to the art and history of the palace, BrijRama serves you Benares wholeheartedly, right by the gracefully flowing Ganga!

Experience sunrise yoga with trained yoga teachers at the roof top terrace with breathtaking views of the river. Or glide down the river at sunrise which is rather special in Varanasi. The famous Ganga aarti can be viewed from the local bajra boat. Being a holy town, BrijRama can arrange for any special religious ceremonies on may want to conduct.

The hotel offers live classical music in the mornings and evenings across the atrium along with traditional dance performance at the Bada Angan. For connoisseurs of music, requests may be made for the musicians to play compositions.

BrijRama Palace will arrange for a day trip to Sarnath – a town of great historical relevance to Buddhists.

Perfect For
those wanting to delve into the countless stories this city has to offer. The palace is the perfect start point to explore the city as it is located on Darbhanga Ghat with a beautiful view of the Ganges. BrijRama is not accessible by a vehicle, hence is not recommended for those who are differently-abled or those with walking issues, especially during the monsoon period. Keeping in adherence with the religious city, the palace serves only Vegetarian Cuisine.

Why we love this place

Every floor has a lounge and a terrace, the piece-de-resistance is of course the views from each and every floor. The terraces offer the best light of the sun for meditation, yoga and breakfast on winter mornings and to watch the sky reflected in various hues of orange over the river at sunset.

About your host

Shri Arvind Kumar decided to develop a unique place in the fond memory of his parents and created a new legacy for his future generations to carry forward as BrijRama Palace. This labour of love took him 16 years to perfect and create and the utmost importance on bespoke experiential service towards the customers was a given. Mr. Kumar chanced upon this unique fort while going down the Ganges standing tall and uninterrupted. One of the turrets was broken and even though the façade was intact the property had fallen upon itself inside. Thus began the long labour of love to restore the beautiful heritage structure and it stands tall today overlooking the Ganges.

Responsible/Sustainable Tourism

Being part of an ancient city, BrijRama Palace has implemented a strong waste management system to avoid discharging of effluents and garbage in to the Ganges. This message is carried across to the local community as well where they educate the local community to not use any soap, detergent or chemicals to wash their clothes on the ghats, thus stopping waste running in to the river.

Kitchen waste is composted and the same is used on their own farms that then provides organic vegetables for the cuisine served. The other ingredients are sourced locally thereby supporting local businesses. There is very limited use of single use plastic with safe filtered drinking water served in glass bottles and providing biodegradable bamboo accessories as part of the bathroom amenities.

Our Recommendation

The river boat dining experience on the Ganges is exceptional. Enjoy the magnificence of this ancient city in the softness of the river, the gentle temple bells as music for company, the floating lamps passing you by whilst soaking in the panoramic views of the Ghats ' all while you taste a delectable meal.

Can’t find a suitable itinerary that features a destination, experience or accommodation you fancy? All our group tours and holiday ideas can be personalised, or we can create a tailor made itinerary for you.

Our Accommodation Ratings

Opulent: Exceptional, unashamedly the best of sheer luxury. (£££££)

Luxury: Outstanding levels of 5* comfort, hospitality and facilities. (££££)

Premium: Excellent levels of comfort and hospitality and a wide range of facilities. (£££)

Mid-Range: Good levels of comfort and hospitality, with a reasonable range of facilities. (££)

Simple: Clean and simple, no frills. Often in areas of natural beauty or near wildlife reserves. (£)