Amrit Bhawan is a tranquil retreat by the Ganga offering bespoke experiences to those in pursuit of simpler pleasures. Situated in a quieter part of modern day Haridwar, Amrit Bhawan is an oasis of calm amidst the hustle and bustle of the city’s ashrams. Built as a modest family home in the 1970s with a charming garden by the river, Amrit Bhawan has been restored into a plush 8-room boutique hotel, retrofitted with modern amenities.
Project Name: Amrit Bhawan
Studio Name: Studio Maagh
Location: Haridwar, India
Photography: Varun Bajaj
Since the beginning of the project, the aim was to preserve the vintage charm of the original property, while ensuring a comfortable and relaxing stay for guests. The design language for the project was largely a result of our passion to use hand crafted products as far as possible and a need for a revival of dying crafts.
It had 4 rooms pre-renovation which got expanded into 8 guestrooms, accessible by elevator. Along with this, a dining area, a library and lounge, back of house areas and large terraces with sweeping views of the river and the hills beyond, were painstakingly carved out of the existing structure.
The guest rooms, with their pastel palette, are bathed in natural light; a stark contrast to the dimly lit interiors of the house from before. They vary in style and size, each having its own personality. Some were designed with private garden balconies, ideal for a cup of tea overlooking the mountains, while some have bay windows which are perfect reading spots. A warm or cool colour hue was thoughtfully assigned to each guestroom based on the amount of natural light it would receive; and this was really enhanced through the beautiful cast in-situ terrazzo in the bathrooms.
Embracing the old rather than rejecting it, it was not only the built structure that was lovingly conserved, but even old pieces of furniture were refurbished and given a new lease on life. The furniture in the property is an eclectic mix of re-purposed older pieces and hand-crafted new ones, with polished wood and soft fabrics lending a warm glow to the spaces. All the beds were designed in-house.
Design homogeneity was maintained through the use of polished teak wood and cane, but different weaving patterns were explored in the caning to avoid repetition. Even the study tables were custom designed to appear non bulky while cleverly concealing an easily accessible, sunken box to hold all the electrical plug points, keeping the entire top surface neat and available for use.
The portico entrance door to the dining area was given a new look, inspired by its art deco past. The dining area flooring was laid out as a pattern with the three stones that were used throughout the property in the renovation process – black kadappa, grey tandur and white marble. This gave us a unique flooring design while forming a monochromatic base for all the other elements that would eventually adorn this space.
Bamboo screens were added to the exterior, as pergolas at varying levels to lend a softer look to the facade; and even as a long vertical curtain from the terrace to the first floor providing privacy to the guestrooms from the neighbouring ashrams.
Renovation of the private garden and ghat-
The private garden dotted with a variety of fruit trees was left largely untouched except for the addition of a wooden yoga deck overlooking the river. It was a conscious decision to do minimal intervention on the ghat. We took cues from traditional Indian ghats where a number of steps are merged together to form platforms. These may be used to perform small ceremonies or to lounge around with a book or a cup of coffee by the river. This worked ergonomically, especially for the elderly, to sit comfortably and take a ritualistic bath without actually having to step down into the river.
There was an existing structure on the ghat with an unobstructed view of the river, which was being used as a store. This was restored as a massage room where guests could enjoy rejuvenating therapies to the sound of gushing waters, thus engaging all of their senses.