Chomu: A fortified palace whose history stretches over 300 years in this Rajasthan town is fast turning into a Bollywood destination for filmmakers eager to showcase the rich splendour of a bygone era.
Be it ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa’ in which Vidya Balan played with aplomb a woman with a split personality or ‘Bol Bachchan’ that showed the irrepressible Abhishek Bachchan at his cheeky best, both were shot in the Chomu Fort that has now been converted into a heritage hotel.
"Chomu fortified palace has a history that goes back over 300 years and now Bollywood is keen to shoot here," Subhasis Banerjee, general manager of Chomu Palace said.
He said ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa’ and ‘Bol Bachchan’ went on to become hits.
"In fact, a movie called `Dirty Politics`, which was shot here, is slated for release this year," said Banerjee.
The movies that have been filmed at the sprawling palace also include ‘Loafer’, ‘Gulal’ and ‘Queens (The Destiny of Dance)’.
Not just movies, even serials have been shot at the palace, where work was initiated by Karan Singh in 1598.
"Serials like `Ratan Ka Swayamvar` and `Jhansi Ki Rani` were shot here," said Banerjee.
But the property is not available round the year for shooting.
"We keep getting requests from Bollywood to hire the hotel for film shoots, but we can only accommodate them during the off-season so that guests are not inconvenienced during the peak season," he added.
During the olden days, the fort was used as a residence by military chiefs and as a stable for their horses.
After Karan Singh, his eldest son Sukh Singh became the ruler and built part of the fort and palace before he died in 1668.
The palace has beautifully done up rooms that are a reflection of the rich cultural heritage of the state. One of the bigger halls, where a scene of ‘Bhool Bhulaiya’ was shot, has walls that have been artistically done up.
Most of the artefacts are intact and it gives the feel of the royal era. For instance, the Maharaja suite has a four-poster bed made of silver and beautifully carved silver furniture add grandeur and splendour to the room.
The heritage property has retained the carvings on the walls making it one of a kind of experience for visitors and a perfect backdrop for movies.
In 1816, one of the rulers, Krishana Singh got cannons made in the fort. He developed a foundry for making the cannon balls that was called Topekhana.
The tales of valour are now part of history yet its charm is drawing Bollywood to it.
If seeing the place in movies is not enough for you, make a trip to the palace and enjoy the royal luxury.
How to get there: Chomu is jsut about 30 km from Rajasthan capital Jaipur, which is well connected by air, train and road. It takes about half an hour to reach Jaipur from New Delhi by air.
Room rates start at Rs.6,000 per night.