The city Jaisalmer gleams with an evident regal-rustic charisma that has enticed travellers for eons. The beauty of the Thar Desert, the daunting forts and palaces and the mystical temples describe the essence of this unique city. To experience its everlasting splendor, all you have to do is check in at Suryagarh, a heritage hotel fashioned to fulfill your kingly fancies. About 4 hours away from the Jodhpur airport, Suryagarh Hotel is the last word in pampering the ‘royal’ in you. The moment you step out of the Airport, the very pleasant chauffeur greets you with a warm smile, cold towels and a tray of varied local and traditional assortments. You know that very moment that you will be swept away with hospitality you won’t forget for the rest of your life. Yes, a truly 5-star experience awaits you here!
I thought of taking a quick nap during the long drive but if this is your first time in Rajasthan, I recommend staying awake during the drive and checking out the interesting sights along the road of the spectacular dunes, peacock flights, free roaming cows, beautifully painted homes and the traditionally clad men moving on their camels. It gives you a unique feel of the place and sets the mood for what’s in store the next few days. Upon arrival at the hotel, my dozy eyes opened to a view of what looked like a mammoth fort. The driveway showed me a glimpse of its yellowy stone façade that blends with the plain desert. The car stopped and I stepped out, Khamaghani. Welcome to Suryagarh! said a charming man with a warm smile. Traditional folk singers crooning rustic music and soulful Rajasthani vocals and women in typical Rajasthani attire swirling to the ghumar dance serenade you. One of the women actually pulled me to dance with them. At first the awkwardness and shyness over powered but then I let loose and danced along their customary cues. An Indian welcome is incomplete without the vermillion mark on your forehead. Adding to this was a rose petal shower. If this doesn’t make you feel like a king or queen, wait till you are escorted to your room.
Central Courtyard of Suryagarh
Traditional folk singers
It was almost late noon when I arrived at the hotel. While the check-in was being taken care off, I was whisked to a room with a huge table with the finest hi-tea selection. The food spread was mix of mouth watering sweet and savory delicacies. Freshly prepared hot local dishes along with some signature cocktails refreshed me totally from the long road trip.
I then walked towards my room admiring the gorgeous architecture of the hotel. Its rich collection of historical artifacts displayed around the hotel as well as its beautiful design makes it look almost like a palace. The long corridors, regal tapestry and the courtyards are breathtaking. Of course, the friendly and ever helpful staff completes the whole picture of making guests feel very much like a royal at Suryagarh. I have to mention the alertness and sharpness of the staff. They have been trained to understand each guests requirements, pick up hints about their likes and dislikes within a single conversation without you realizing that you have given them all the information they need to make your stay a dream come true. They knew my food preferences, choice of wine, how I like my breakfast and even how I like my things placed in the room. It was to a point scarily perfect! I reached the room to myself in a space which was bigger than my apartment back home! The sheer grandness of the room overlooking the Thar Desert was so overwhelming. A massive living room and adjoining to it a separate dining room formed one part of the room. On the other side was my bedroom with a bed so huge that 4 of me could fit in it. The room came with a spacious walk-in closet, separate shower, a bathtub overlooking the windmills and the desert as well as a separate vanity area with his and her sinks. The room was decorated with stunning artifacts and rich upholstery. A pretty picture of me in a wooden frame was strategically placed on a sideboard with some traditional mithais and a letter with a royal seal addressed to me. As it started sinking in that this palatial room was my home for the next few days I walked up the stairs, which opened to a huge terrace. To my awe, it was a massive courtyard with sunbeds and a private pool overlooking the hotel grounds and the desert. I thought it was another room but in reality it was a part of my space. I was excited like a little schoolgirl that this was my mini luxurious home for the weekend.
Bedroom at Suryagarh
Personalized picture in the room
Bath tub overlooking the Thar Desert
A few hours of rest and it was time for dinner. A couple of cocktails followed by an elaborate dinner setup in the central courtyard of Suryagarh awaited us. The cuisine was typically Rajasthani and the course-by-course meal was truly divine. Post such a heavy meal all I could see was that cozy bed and a good night’s rest.
Traditional Rajasthani Cuisine
The next day I woke up to a gorgeous sunrise behind the dunes and a hearty halwai breakfast. I have to say that no Rajasthani holiday is completely without tasting these specially prepared dishes by the local chefs. I was left licking my fingers and wanting more. The hot jalebis were simply sinful and definitely my favorite.
Post the indulgent breakfast I decided to walk around the hotel grounds on an exploration. It was a beautiful morning and the Suryagarh lawns and courtyards were flocked by stunning peacocks, white doves, 3 adorable Labradors, a tortoise and even a donkey. Yes, I was so fascinated by a donkey in one of the corridors. The staff was so sweet that they actually let me feed the peacocks straight from my hand and pet the doves. It was a first for me and the experience was thrilling. The hotel grounds have their own organic garden and a mini animal farm. The indoor pool area is the best way to beat the summer heat and the ‘Rait Spa’ offers some interesting regional therapies like the salt therapy. Their dining options serve both traditional and international cuisines, which suffice all palates. Although Suryagarh is in the middle of nowhere the comfort is unparalleled. The hotel boasts some great accommodation options in the form of regular rooms, suites and havelis. All the rooms are a great blend of modern and traditional. They offer a sanctuary away from the city hustle bustle (Just what we urbane people dream off)
Feeding the peacocks
Strolling around the Suryagarh grounds
Indulging in the Salt Therapy at Rait Spa
Pool Area at Suryagarh
Lounge and Sunbed area post swim
Entrance of Rait Spa
Therapy rooms at Rait Spa
Relaxation room at the Spa
Gymnasium at Suryagarh
Organic Garden at Suryagarh
Post the Suryagarh exploration we were taken to see the city of Jaisalmer and all that it has to offer. I will be elaborating a lot more on it in my next post about my Jaisalmer excursions and the wonderful experiences with Suryagarh. By the time we returned it was almost night and time for dinner. By now I knew that what the super efficient Suryagarh team would have planned for us would be spectacular because every meal that I had so far was out beaten by the next one. This time the dinner set up was in the lawns. A typical Thar experience awaited us. The Manganiyar singers kept us entertained while we sat on the manicured lawns under the stars and savored exquisite regional dishes from one big thal.
My last day was a relatively relaxing one. Strolling around the Suryagarh property I kept thinking that I just have a few hours left here before I head back home to my regular crazy city routine. It then got me thinking of all my recent travels and their hospitality. Customized luxury experiences are what Suryagarh Jaisalmer does best. The dining just gets more significant of the Rajasthani glory. They know the flair of pleasing all your senses and not just your taste-buds. You can have breakfast with the peacocks at sunrise at an abandoned fort or a sundown by an oasis. Dinner at the dunes or a camel ride across the arid desert. For the brave you can even do the ‘chudail trail’ (I would not dare to do this) or visit the nearby haveli’s, forts and temples. This is just a hint at what Suryagarh can do for you. Suryagarh never ceases to surprise us with their high level of customer service. The attention to detail is just amazing! For the money you spend here, you are treated to some of the most unforgettable moments and memories of your lifetime. What will probably stay back in your heart is the uncompromising hospitality of the staff, right from the chauffeur who picks you up, to the welcome entourage, to your hosts at the restaurants and the housekeeping staff that never forgets to leave delicious sweets for you in the room. If you visit Suryagarh, I know for sure, you will be taken care of like a Maharaja!
Until Next Time
A special mention to Ridge Fernandes, Niharika Tandon, Rasna Bhasin, Nikhil Merchant, Phorum Dalal and Harsha Praveen for putting up with me throughout the trip and clicking some amazing pictures for my blog and social media. Love you guys!
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