Sayla was once the stronghold of the JhalaRajputs who came from Sindh to Saurashtra. This princely state became the founding capital of Seshmalji I Raisinhji after he seized it from the KathiDarbars in 1751. He fortified the town and went on to build the Darbargadh or Rajmahal (palace), which still serves as the residence.
Run by a royal scion, the colonial-era Bell Guest House is tucked away in a 24-acre patch off the Ahmedabad-Rajkot highway. Unlike palaces and havelis ‘converted’ into heritage hotels, Bell Guest House is a striking Indo-European building that was constructed in 1870 to host British officers.
Fronted by a large verandah overlooking a garden full of trees, rambling creepers, a lotus pond and a gigantic outdoor chessboard, the old guesthouse continues its legacy of hospitality as a renovated heritage homestay. While the colonial manor does not spell overt swishy luxury, it possesses a well worn, unfussy homely comfort in a vintage setting. Six of its ten rooms are open to guests who return for the simple joys of a tranquil holiday, home-style food (Indian and Western fare) and the promise of special and enriching experiences. The well-informed host YuvrajSomraj Singh Jhala knows the region inside out and has curated various trails, including birding at the Nearby lakes, and visits to monuments and lesser known step wells like Matri Ma ne Vav built in 1535.