The moment you step inside the Maruti Suzuki Dzire, its cocooning cabin calms you down. The very next moment as you begin to move, it livens you up. The car is a mix of both worlds, and probably the best one there is. With weeks and months spent with one, we’ve come to believe that it has a heart of gold. Which we’re told is not too dissimilar to Fort Jadhavgarh, where the unique hospitality takes the front seat and makes you feel at home (or palace, in this case). Royal hospitality is, as we’re told, second to none. And what can be a better way to find that out in a car as regal as the Dzire.
Even with skyscrapers and modern buildings trying to and cover every nook and corner of the country, it’s a relief to see structures like Fort Jadhavgadh. Secluded from Pune but so well-connected to its Maratha roots, the 300-year-old fort is one of the best quick getaways from the city. Through the urban locales of Mumbai (where we’re based) and Pune, we drive to Jadhavwadi (where the fort is) in a little over three and a half hours.
Once here, you wouldn’t have to look any further to find peace, delectable food, and of course the treatment once confined to royals only. Spread over 25 acres, the property offers a wide variety of rooms (from royal tents, the tastefully decorated Maharani suite to the grandeur-laden Maharaja suite), fun-filled activities including an audio tour of the fort, an external sight-seeing tour of the vicinity, and even guided trekking. Our choice of wheels, the Dzire is luxurious enough to pamper a royal. It’s good-looking, boasts a long list of features, and has the charm to look ageless all its life — much like the fortress.
Named after the Maratha general Pilaji Jadhavrao, Fort Jadhavgadh was built in 1710. It represents what was the actual place of residence, and not just an orgy of carvings and designs. It was more purposeful, and different from the usual palaces that we’ve seen across the country. Having said that, it has its roots intact, be it the woodwork, the tall ‘Durwaaza’, rock stairways, or, of course, the delectable food.
Served in both Chhajja coffee shop and Payatha restaurant, the Maharashtrian cuisine is quite the fitting meal, once you’re back after touring the fort or taking the scenic trek atop the hillocks. Chhajja also extends outwards, and you can even enjoy your food with a soothing wind topping and a great view by the side. There are other ways to rejuvenate as well, including a full-fledged spa, a large swimming pool close to the Maharaja suite, and even zip-lining across a pond. There’s also the Aai (which is Marathi for mother) Museum which offers a look into the meticulous collection of memorabilia from Maratha empire. It helps visitors reconnect with the past and eventually look in awe at the intrinsically detailed and well-designed everyday items.
But nothing comes close to relishing a siesta in one of the ‘kholis’, though. And as clichéd as it may sound, there’s something for everyone. The Royal Tents and Neem Forest Cottages let you enjoy the view of fortress and the unmistakeable hospitality, but without going too far from nature. The Deluxe, Premier and Museum Rooms take it further up the ante, with options like hill-view and open-air rain-showers to indulge in. And right on top are the grandeur-laden Maharaja and Maharani suites, which epitomise it all. That is so much like the Dzire whose wisely selected features list ensures that the Dzire’s customers aren’t let down, irrespective of the variant they choose. This adds to the feel-good factor of the Dzire. The fact that you’ve made the right choice strengthens it even further. And forgive me for traversing this path, but isn’t life all about feeling good.
It all starts with the welcome ceremony and goes on till the very last minute you spend at Jadhavgadh. The ambience, the location, and even the climate, all work together to make one feel good. That requires a heart of gold, like the one Jadhavgadh proudly boasts. And like I mentioned earlier, the Dzire has one, too.