Chokhi Dhani and the advent of themed restaurants in India
Themed restaurants have been around for a long time. The first themed restaurants date back to late nineteenth-century France when Paris cabarets opened in the Montmartre. These eateries are based on a concept and showcase it through architecture, design, food, live performances, and many other ways. They are meant to transport the visitor into an exotic environment as soon as they step inside. Many restaurant owners create such experiences to stand out from the rest in a highly competitive world.
Oftentimes, while choosing where to eat, a customer looks beyond the cuisine and at the overall experience. Around the world, many concepts have gotten famous such as cat cafes that allow visitors to interact with cats or dark dining, where there are no light sources, as customers dine in the dark. In India, people are always looking for unique experiences, which have given rise to many themed restaurants across the country. From hippie travel cafes in the north to Fly Dining, India’s first hanging restaurant, the sphere of themed restaurants is gigantic.
Chokhi Dhani Origins
From the celebrated state of Rajasthan, comes a chain of themed restaurants that initially began in 1989 and has now evolved into an ethnic village exhibiting the colorful cultures of Rajasthan. The restaurants are an experiential center, where one can not only enjoy the delicacies of the state but also absorb its rich culture. Started to encapsulate the Rajasthani spirit, this traditional Indian Village is an oasis amongst the hubbub of cities. The aim was to combine the age-old artforms and modern amenities to create an abode where tourists can feel the real essence of Rajasthan.
Design and Planning
For the design, the architect visited the nearby villages, Havelis, and palaces to acquaint themselves with the key features. The artefacts were procured from different parts of Rajasthan, but efforts were made to recreate them to maintain their uniqueness. All the decorative materials were hand-crafted and then combined with modern services.
For planning, usually, a cluster typology is followed. Different zones spread out on the site depict themes. Zones showcasing the Rajasthani forests, lakesides, and desserts are located in an amalgamation. Open spaces left in between, are used to host activities like camel riding, chaat shops and, kids play areas. The planning also mirrors that of a Rajasthani village. The focal point in a village is the Thakur’s Haveli, and the amenities are around it. The swimming pool is located in the rear end to assure privacy to the guests.
Components of a Chokhi Dhani Village
The village has several dance stages, studios, dining halls, and Havelis. All of them are fashioned around the Rajasthani decor to give the feel of a typical village. The reception and lobby area have mud-plastered floors and a bamboo net ceiling, with Rajasthani paintings and murals adorning the walls. The dining rooms emanate grandeur and have multiple cuisines from the state staples to the Chinese. The swimming pool is shaped like a ‘kund’ or the traditional water body used by the kings. It also has a health center with all modern amenities nearby. The royal suites are situated inside a haveli to give the experience of ethnic living.
Activities inside the arena are extensive. There is a plethora of evening live performances that not only help in spreading awareness about the rich Indian culture but also give a chance to the local artists. Many folk dances are performed, including the ghoomer, snake dance, and the potter’s dance. The artists also organize puppet shows and magic shows that enthral the public. Apart from these, sometimes a ‘bhool bhulaiyaa’ or a maze is arranged for entertainment. Play areas have many authentic village games for everyone to have fun and know more about the traditional Indian games. Tourists can buy wares from the artisan's village or go for a horse, camel, or elephant ride. The place has many more entertainment options to choose from.
The concept, deep-rooted in the cultures of Rajasthan, educates the public as well as the inbound tourists while being an entertaining retreat. There is a great deal of creativity in the traditional Indian art forms that are well showcased in the Chokhi Dhani village. The live performances, the mouth-watering food, the magic shows, and the artisanal wares all make for an exciting destination.