Once upon a time, Naggar used to be the capital of Kullu and the Rajas of Kullu used to reside here. In 1460 A.D., Raja Sidh Singh built a castle over the abandoned palace of Rana Bhonsal. These days, the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) is running it as a hotel and a living museum.
I have been dreaming about staying at The Castle for a long time. Ever since I saw photographs of it in a travelogue on BCMTouring. Even though I forget who wrote the travelogue or even its name, memories of the beautiful Castle in Naggar, remained alive in my head.
This weekend, I managed to travel to Naggar and stayed at The Castle.
I stayed at the 101 Cozy Deluxe Room, which has a beautiful view of the Kullu Valley from its balcony.
Sadly, though, the balcony is shared with a couple of other rooms. Add to that, day visitors to the castle, at times intrude into this area meant strictly for the hotel guests.
Having said that, experience of enjoying the view from it is unparalleled. Add to that the wooden planks in the balcony creak and lightly shake, when you walk over them, adding to the thrill of staying at a heritage property.
The room itself was fairly large and beautiful at places, though it needs TLC and they have to make the fireplace look grand enough by adding a Fireplace Mantel to it. Without it, it hardly commands attention or is even visible to first time visitor.
The washroom though, needs a complete overhaul. Even though the choice of going with black colour is always going to be controversial. It is the ergonomics, which are the biggest let down.
The toilet seat is not comfortable. Moreover, the knob for jet is located away from comfortable reach and the jet sprays water everywhere and is of limited utility. The shower either provides hot or cold water and attempting to mix it, results in you constantly twiddling with the taps, but to no avail.
The washbasin is low, so you end up slouching over it, while washing face or shaving. Add to that, water leaks from the tap and collects around the washbasin marble, so while leaning it can get on to your clothes.
The service though courteous and prompt, is not available early in the morning. In fact, the earliest you can get tea or room service is after 7 am.
The food though is delicious and is best enjoyed at the restaurant’s balcony, though during the day you have to share that space with day visitors. As per my experience, Kangra Kadi is a must try along with Himachali Pulo.
Despite the shortcomings, the grand feeling of living in a 600-year-old castle cannot be ignored. If you are like me, then you will end up exploring and photographing it more than Roerich Art Gallery, which is beautiful as well, but pales in comparison to this living museum.
There is even a temple inside the castle, Jagati Pat Temple, which opens each day at around 8 am for prayers.
Overall, I enjoyed my stay at The Castle, Naggar. Even though I feel HPTDC should do a better job of maintaining and running this hotel, I would still recommend it anyone, who loves staying at heritage properties, without paying through their nose. After all, even their Royal Suit with four beds is priced at Rs. 4,700 + GST, which is nothing in comparison to what you would have to pay at a private heritage hotel.
The hotel can be booked online through the official website of HPTDC.