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  • Writer's pictureUrvashi Singh

A Pitstop in Deogarh

The 679-kilometre-long National Highway number 58 (NH58) connects Fathpur to Rajasthan’s Lake City before culminating towards Palampur in Gujarat. The scenic highway in the state’s southern region serves as an arterial route for truckers and tourists alike. 45 kilometres short of Udaipur, the iconic Krishna temple of Nathdwara ji too falls on this route. Another 83 kilometers north of this divine abode is where Deogarh, an erstwhile jagir of the Sangawat Chundawat Rajputs is situated.

Once counted as among Mewar’s sixteen umraos or feudal barons, the house of Deogarh today holds its historical legacy via Deogarh Mahal and Deogarh Khayyam. The former is a 50-room-large heritage property in the heart of Deogarh, while the latter has 16 AC tents in the rural vicinity of Deogarh Mahal. The family’s younger generation has ushered this impressive legacy as hoteliers further out, towards the bustling NH58 via a novel automobile-themed vintage American diner. The Pitstop Cafe, as they call it is a much-needed rest area for travelers in an area that otherwise offers a scanty selection of dhabas and tea shops with not even a well-sanitised restroom in sight. 

Rajputana Collective is proud to feature the Pitstop Cafe, Deogarh after an interview with Kritika Kumari, the family’s daughter-in-law, who was instrumental in conceiving and manifesting the idea alongside her husband, Kunwar Mayurdhwaj Singh. 

An external vista of the Pitstop Cafe

“The idea came to us when several people stopped by at our petrol pump, inquiring about a place to eat with a good restroom to use since there are not too many places on NH58 to cater to these basic traveler needs”, recalls Kritika. Even though several fast food franchises and dhaba chains are picking up on Indian expressways, the Deogarhs sensed a lack of highway rest areas that offer nutritious food and well-sanitized restrooms. They also recognized that this deficit seriously hampered the travel experience of millions of Indians, especially women and children who are at a higher risk of sanitation-related infections. To meet this ever-growing twin need of diverse travelers, Deogarh’s Gen Next opened a quirky and uplifting space by the highway, and called it the Pitstop Cafe. 

In Kritika’s words, ”Pitstop” generally refers to a brief stop during a race, where cars can be refueled and get maintenance work done. We have used this term broadly and with suggestions for our visitors to refuel, relax, and take a comfortable break in their journey, enjoying all that our Pitstop Cafe has to offer.” A selective menu that relies heavily on organic farm produce, witty aesthetics, and a vintage automobile overtone are some of the features that make the Pitstop Cafe unique. What’s more, the cafe’s dairy products are sourced from their very own grandmother’s home dairy. 

Tastefully-done interiors at the Pitstop Cafe

The Pitstop Cafe's service counter

The family’s collection of vintage cars and bikes is displayed at the cafe, and the tarmac road leading up to the entrance almost makes one feel like they’re living the Disney Pixar Cars experience. A 1928 Chevrolet and a 1952 Austin A40 Countryman are parked at the cafe's entrance to welcome their guests. Royal Enfield from the 1970's and an Italian Lambretta are some of the two-wheelers standing inside the cafe. Dining tables rendered from old jeeps, and quilted seats pay homage to a bygone automobile era. The accent tables pay a tribute to the Volkswagen bus from the 1960's as well as the beloved Ambassador. Miniature toy cars sit in quirky lampshades and witty signboards punctuate this Instagram-worthy space. 

Their highly acclaimed pastas, pizzas, and Indian fares are complimented by coffee that the Deogarhs have sourced from Coorg. Some age-old culinary recipes too have found a home at the Pitstop Cafe, notably the palak ka halwa, a recipe passed on from their great-grandmother who hailed from Dumraon in Bihar.

“We do have hoteliers in our family, and as is with mostly all Rajputs, we know how to treat our guests. This is not something particularly singular to the Chundawats of Deogarh. However, being a hotel management graduate and having worked in our family hotel for years, one learns a lot about hosting and hospitality. This has made running the cafe easier for us. We have maintained the high standards of our hotel even in our cafe”, the duo comments. 

Squeaky clean & posh restrooms at the Pitstop Cafe

The Pitstop Cafe serves as a refreshing and immersive space for travelers, foodies and automobile enthusiasts

Despite reeling under the uncertainties that the pandemic unleashed on them in terms of supply and a timely inauguration of the cafe, Kritika and Mayurdhwaj stand tall with a truly novel highway stop experience. What’s more, they don’t limit their hospitality to humans alone. The Pitstop Cafe’s lawn area is designed for weary pets to stretch themselves and get some fresh air. In the much-awaited advent of normalizing pet-friendly travel experiences, the Deogarhs don’t fall behind. Instead, they lead by example and exhibit the seamless creation of an inclusive space for highway diners, rest seekers, automobile enthusiasts, and pet lovers of every age, on an unsuspecting highway of all places!

Kritika & Mayurdhwaj with their son Devshrut



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