“We did not want to make an obvious copy of traditional Indian architecture, what we had envisaged was a modern day hotel, but with an Indian soul. The idea was to derive inspiration from traditional elements for a contemporary design,” are the words of architect Pronit Nath, Urban Studio, Mumbai, who were originally comissioned for the Devi Ratn Hotel project by Mr. Anupam Poddar and Mrs. Lekha Poddar. Later Mr. Deepak Ohri, the visionary founding CEO of the luxury brand Lebua Hotels and Resorts, decided to make this property a part of his world renowned hotel chain.
With the architecture and landscape design handled by architect Aniket Bhagwat the hotel radiates a boldness achieved through dramatic scales and rhythmic repetition. Within the framework of the master plan and the RCC structure, Pronit Nath was responsible for the interior design with introductions of architectural elements like the jharokha, the jali, the villa façade and the domical roof.
Almost completely composed of red stone jali and animated with the dramatic play of light and shadow, the reception is the perfect precursor for more enchants to follow. A chic monolithic furniture piece made of beaten white metal operates as the waiting area for guests leaving the rest of the space clutter-free.
Rajasthan is known as the paradise of majestic palaces which are now converted into magnificent heritage hotels. In the 18th century, Jaipur, the capital city, was designed on the grid plan of 9 squares as per Vastu Shashtra. Jantar Mantar, the royal observatory built in 1728, influenced the project’s geometric shapes and structures.
Imbibing these historic influences, Devi Ratn further takes its name from “Nav Ratn”, referring to the nine pure gemstones that are said to focus the cosmic energy of an associated celestial body connected to each stone.
The vibrant Nav Ratn colours have informed the colour code for the overall design. The striking bold colour palette derived from the gems – Emerald – green, Ruby – red, Coral – orange, Sapphire – yellow along with metallic colours – Gold, Silver and Copper renders the project a unique appeal.
Corresponding stones like Agra red, Bheslana marbles, sandstones and slates combined with beaten metal and mirror work helped materialise this theme into reality.
Most spaces are consciously kept monochromatic with shades and tones of a single colour to avoid a visual chaos while attaining a vibrant ambience.
Combining the lyrical spaces with bold architecture, the 60 suites are planned along the crescent shaped streets at varying heights to ensure a magnificent view of the surrounding Aravali Mountains from each space. There are 14 Luxury Suites, 19 Deluxe Suites and 27 Executive Suites, all of which are equipped with all modern amenities.
Set around an enclosed courtyard are the three spacious villas. All these villas have a deluxe suite present above with an independent access. Graced with private pools and Jacuzzis, the villas exude opulence with their well detailed interiors made up of intricate inlay work, hammered metal and mirror-worked surfaces. Miniature style artworks are interpreted in the layers of glass creating a sense of depth. To befit a royal ambience, the black river stone finished bathrooms have white sunken marble bath tubs and rain showers.
“By abstracting the qualities of the nine gemstones, our primary intent was to insert devices that would give every space its unique personality. These devices – formal, material or programmatic became the anchors of each space and eventually form the visual vocabulary for the entire project,” elaborates Pronit Nath.
Another reference is taken from the exquisite jewelry of the erstwhile royals. The traditional neckpiece design is recreated on the head board, study table and lighting pelmet with the help of the age old local craft of ‘Thekari’ mirror work; this imbues the suite with a strong character.
The use of lenticular printing provides the suite with a dynamic display which changes in perception when one moves within the room.
Each space is differentiated through an intricately designed flooring pattern interestingly inspired by the printing technique called ‘Leheriya’ used for the local textiles especially those meant for the odhanis and ghaghras of women and the paaghs of men.
“Modern techniques of conception and production have helped to create the contemporary patterns for this project. Reminiscent of the past, each pattern combines the aesthetics of the present with the emotional values of the days gone by and forms an eclectic language which has been used throughout the project, ranging from the architectural scale of facades, jalis, walls, flooring to the interiors and the product scale of accessories, cutlery and textiles,” elucidates Pronit Nath.
The Chakra Bar is crafted from a cylindrical object where the gentle movement of light creates a sense of an enveloping cosmos. The distorted reflections offered by the patterned mirror ceiling induce the oomph factor. Step out on to the bar deck and a mist fountain creates an ephemeral mood, a feeling of being among swirling clouds in the moonlight.
The final drama is achieved at the Vajra restaurant. A marvel of modern architecture and engineering, the profile of the arch is derived with calculative considerations wherein each dining table is placed exactly under a dome leaving a comfortable service passage around. Commenting on its design, the architect shares, “The domes of the restaurant have been faceted and painted with metallic colours like gold and silver, to form a space that is of the present but informed by the past.”
Devi Ratn is a perfect example of modern architecture that has been interwoven with threads of the past. The overall shimmering ambience, rare visual compositions and volumetrically exhilarating experiences never fail to fill its visitors with awe.
Text By Kruti Choksi
Photographs Courtesy Lebua Hotels And Resorts & Urban Studio