On a Trip to India to See Wild Tigers, This Is the Hotel to Stay In — According to a Travel Expert

Located just outside the tiger haven of Ranthambore National Park, the Six Senses Fort Barwara is the ultimate haven to relax and indulge. A-List travel advisor Niall Cause shares the perfect 48-hour itinerary.

The exterior of Six Senses Fort Barwara
The 48-suite Six Senses Fort Barwara. Photo:

Courtesy of Six Senses

Aromatic incense, rich curries, bright temples, chanted prayers, and a hubbub of honking horns: a visit to India’s Golden Triangle plunges travelers into the frenzied heart of Rajasthani culture. The classic route—Delhi to Agra to Ranthambore to Jaipur—is one I’ve returned over and over again in the 12 years I’ve been at Audley Travel. I love it, but I’ve noticed that many travelers can find it a bit tiring. 

With that in mind, I like to build in a brief pause into vacations in Rajasthan so travelers can catch their breath and go at a slower pace for a few days. An exceptional place to indulge is the recently opened Six Senses Fort Barwara, which is conveniently located for a visit after a busy few days looking for tigers in Ranthambore National Park

Bengal Tiger reflections in wide-angles from Ranthambhore National Park

Prasanna S/Getty Images

Day One

After days looking for beautiful tigers in the national park, your private driver will pick you up and drive you to the Six Senses Fort Barwara resort. Perched atop a hill amid the scrubby desert of Rajasthan, the 14th-century Fort Barwara is an imposing sight from a distance, with thick walls that enclose a series of palaces and temples. This was once home to Rajput royalty and it’s been thoughtfully restored, carefully balancing modern amenities with a respect for the complex’s 700-year history. Guests are greeted in the traditional Indian manner, with garlands of marigolds, a fresh lime soda, and a bindi dot on their foreheads. Travelers unpack in their suites and enjoy lunch in the courtyard before taking a dip in the temperature-controlled pool or private hot tub. (For the ultimate indulgence, opt for the Raja Man Singh Pool Suite, which has a private pool inside the turret.)

The Raja Man Singh Suite Turret Pool at Six Senses Fort Barwara

Courtesy of Six Senses

Then, as evening starts to fall, I recommending heading to the temple for a puja ceremony. The ceremony, which happens every evening at sunset, honors the gods Radha and Krishna. In the fading light, oil lamps illuminate the fragrant smoke from the incense and the priest sings his worship as he makes an offering to the statues of the gods. You’ll also receive a blessing from the priest in the form of a sprinkle of holy water from the Ganges. 

From there, head to the highest terrace on the ramparts for a lantern-lit private dinner under the stars. You can opt for a Rajasthani-inspired menu, perfectly complemented by a sweeping view of the surrounding countryside. 

Day Two

Six Senses properties focus on wellness, so it’s not a surprise that wellbeing takes a particularly spiritual focus in India, where multifaceted spirituality is at the heart of the culture. Here, guests can start their day atop the fort’s walls with guided breathing exercises that draw on the region’s deep yogic traditions. 

Sunrise Yoga at Fort Wall at Six Senses Fort Barwara

Courtesy of Six Senses

After breakfast, I suggest a guided walk around the fort and its surroundings. A guide can help peel back the layers of history that have accumulated over seven centuries and will illuminate the religions and myths that continue to inform daily life in the area. Guests also learn about the region’s future—Six Senses is working to rewild the local landscape using only endemic species, to help restore the wild landscapes that have been lost to modern development. 

In the afternoon, travelers should spend some time being pampered at the spa, which is tucked behind the façade of the former Zanana Mahal women’s palace. The treatment menu is based in traditional Ayurvedic whole-body principles—in addition to the usual selection of massages and saunas, people can opt for guided meditations with transcendent sounds in the meditation hall.  

Inside of the Hawa Mahal or The palace of winds at Jaipur India. It is constructed of red and pink sandstone.
The Hawa Mahal palace in Jaipur.

Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty Images

As the light draws towards sunset, and sky blooms in a red-and-orange glow, it’s time for an open-top jeep ride. The route includes visits to ancient villages and watching goat herders bringing their flocks home, then ends next to a secluded lake in the Aravali hills. The driver will set up chairs for guests to enjoy and alfresco cocktail while admiring the sky reflected in the waters. 

For dinner, I recommend Roohani, a restaurant where the daily tasting menu is inspired by the banquet feasts of Rajput royalty in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Look out for safed maas, a particularly fragrant creamy curry spiced with a delicate balance of cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. For after-dinner drinks, retire to the sunken fire pits to chat with other guests. 

Day Three

Prepare for the morning drive with a private hatha yoga session in the early morning quiet. Then, fully refreshed, travelers can resume their journey through the frenetic heart of Rajasthani culture with a drive to the Pink City of Jaipur. 

Niall Causer is a member of Travel + Leisure's A-List of travel advisors and creates custom trips across India. Contact him at 855-435-1623 or niall.causer@audleytravel.com.

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