An interview with DilipsinhRana, the managing director of Khirasara Heritage Hotel
Dilipsinh Rana purchased the Khirasara Palace in 1994 and finished the restoration in 2010. Now known as the Heritage Khirasara Palace hotel, it has emerged as a popular place for weddings and conferences, and hosts tourists throughout the year. Excerpts from an interview with Rana:
Pictures: Urban Vaastu
Words: Shivangani Dhawan
What is the historic significance of the palace?
The vibrations and culture of the mysterious land of Kathiawar bestow a unique character and personality, not only to the place but also to its people. Legends and myths signify that Khirasara Palace has a unique geography and an incomparable history of more than 450 years under the undefeated rule of the Thakores.
Can you give an insight into the erstwhile royal family of Khirasara Palace?
There have been three phases of Khirasara state and the Thakore rulers recorded by historians.
Shree Kaloji of Dhrol had seven sons including Sangoji the eldest, Bhimaji the second and Junoji the third. After the death of Kaloji, Sangoji succeeded the throne and after his death, the throne came upon Bhimaji who then gained the small Khirasara castle.
His successor, ThakoreRanmalji, restored the castle and brought glory to Saurashtra. He visited ‘Nale-Sat-Pir’, a Sufi fakir from Sindh residing near the castle in a dargah. The Pir suggested that he build a holy place within the castle premises to ensure that the people remain unbeaten. He also said that by doing so his legend would live forever through the significance of this glorious castle.
Taking his advice Ranmalji constructed a temple on the north side of the castle. The Pir and his retinue stayed there for many years and the castle remained unbeaten. The restored palace was looked at with envy by the Nawab of Junagadh, who attacked it twice, but failed to take it over. As of a memory of this victory, two canons of the Junagadh artillery were mounted at the eastern gate of the castle.
A member of the seventh generation of the Khirasara family, Sursinhji made efforts to resurrect and rebuild the palace. He educated the people of Khirasara state, and improved the conditions of farmers.
Tell us more about the palace and heritage hotel?
Khirasara Palace has been resurrected twice by two generations of Thakores and still stands tall atop a hill spread over seven acres. The castle became a heritage hotel in November 2010.
The hotel consists of 26 suites, including a Maharaja and Maharani suite. There are three dining venues: Wind’s and Wave’s the coffee shop; Deep Mahal, the open candle light dining facility; and Sheesh Mahal a multi-cuisine restaurant.
There are two wedding lawns situated at the centre of the palace, as well as two banquet halls. The smaller one can accommodate 125 guests and Darbar Hall, which is one of a kind in Saurashtra can accommodate 1,500 guests. There is also a swimming pool with the look of a traditional ‘vav’ and with a modern day musical fountain.
What are the USPs of the palace property?
The property is strategically located atop a hill, providing a breathtaking 360 degree view at different times of the day. It is situated 14 km from the bustling city of Rajkot, providing serenity, peace and clean fresh breeze, whilst ensuring hospitality of the traditional Kathiawar culture. Sixty per cent of the palace has been restored keeping in mind the original colonial architecture.