Suryagarh, Jaisalmer: Part 2

Suryagarh, Jaisalmer: Part 2

Set against the idyllic backdrop of the Thar Desert, Suyagarh Jaisalmer strikes a great balance of luxury and heritage.

Access Part 1 here

 

Nestled within the vast Thar Desert, Suryagarh Jaisalmer impressively interweaves luxury into its traditional visage presenting an escape from the everyday. Representing a unique way of life where time is no longer the master and happiness no longer a rarity, the hotel exists in perfect harmony with its culture and the modern influences which are a necessity for providing a luxurious setting to its guests. Inspired gardens, picturesque courtyards and elegant décor are all parts of a puzzle that fit perfectly together to create this paradisiacal palace called Suryagarh. When selecting a vacation destination in Western India, choose Suryagarh to truly experience an opulent and unique getaway to India.

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The fact that Suryagarh doesn’t exist as a renovated heritage palace but has been built from scratch brings amazement to anyone who visits the property

 

Day Two – The Silk Route

Venue:  The Central Courtyard of Suryagarh

The Manganiyar musicians of Suryagarh, Jaisalmer are highly skilled masters, inheritors of a beautiful and sophisticated art which can leave you spellbound. As I enter the courtyard the luring tunes of a traditional flute fill the air serenading guests and augmenting the enchantment of the place. The flutist has taken a seat in one of the jharokhas above and looking up I admire the beautiful jail windows. Peacocks and white pigeons are a common sight but they take my breath away every time they come close to my breakfast table.

Menu:

It is widely believed that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and food is serious business in Suryagarh. A lavish Halwai breakfast that satiates one’s Indian food cravings for chaat, kachoris and mithais is specially crafted for guests to showcase the rich cuisine of the region. Each dish is irresistible, filling you up till you’re ready to fall right back into bed!

The table is laid with a smorgasbord of sweetmeats which include the Jaisalmer Ghotua – a local favourite – courtesy the chef Halwai, Gatta Ram. This is where my journey of a colourful and delicious breakfast begins. Served course by course, this elaborate meal allows me to sample some of the most distinctive Rajasthani flavours in the form of crispy chaat, mirchi wada, pyaaz ki kachori, and poori bhaji and accompanying this extravagant spread is masala chai and a glass of kesari lassi. I lose myself in this fabulous world of luxury, comfort and grandeur!

The colourful presentation of Suryagarh’s signature Halwai breakfast is as pleasing to the eye as the flavours are to my palate

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The overgenerous Halwai breakfast is served at the central courtyard which transforms in the evening to a site for folk songs played by the Manganiyar musicians and other events that showcase the traditional side of Jaisalmer.

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Exploring the Thar

The hotel offers an excursion to the Thar Desert as one of their signature experiences

With a full stomach and a happy heart I set out to explore the Silk Route. Travelling through the roads of Jaisalmer, the beautiful sand dunes and the magnanimous Thar Desert which are some of nature’s most splendid handiwork seem like a welcoming sight. The rains have thoughtfully swept away the dust off the roads, and everything around is bathed in the gentle showers of the monsoon transforming the look of the desert. I couldn’t ask for a better journey than this!

The much-exalted silk route of ancient times that connected artisans and craftsmen from far off lands through trade included the city of Jaisalmer. So I begin my journey to find the beauty of old times with a modern perspective. I visit the temple of Kiradu in the Thar Desert which is shrouded in mysticism and has a beautiful story of its solitude. Operations Manager, Mr Nakul Hada, graciously accompanies me on my visit around the district helping me understand the history and culture of the people. He keeps me engrossed with the myths and legends tied to the region all the while helping me discover the magnitude of flavours and cuisines that the Thar has to offer.

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Having lived mostly in the cities, I feel that I have got accustomed to noisy and crowded spaces, but in this part of Jaisalmer, large open spaces seem so ordinary.

 

On my way to the ruins of Khaba Fort I imagine caravans laden with merchandise making their way across the rugged terrains of the desert. Even in its ruins, the fort radiates the glory of its magnificent past. The Paliwal village which can be spotted from the fort is one of the 81 abandoned settlements in the region. A flight of stairs from the fort leads to the settlement. I realize that the beauty of the desert veils crude secrets of its own. It is the expansive desert after all, that dominates the way of life in Jaisalmer.

I spend most the day absorbing the beauty and culture of the Thar and its people. Mr. Hada takes pride in being a part of such a beautiful place and uses his knowledge of the place to fill me in on the smallest details. My entire experience is flawless. Suryagarh’s interest in the local landscape comes across as a conscious effort to promote local tourism and help visitors not just enjoy the luxuries of the hotel but witness the beauty of the district as well.

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You could spend a few hours here, or an entire day, and still feel like you haven’t seen enough. Jaisalmer is regal and endearingly rustic all at once. Some of the most memorable times in Rajasthan are spent here, on the edge of the mighty Thar.

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Some beautiful intricate stone work and attention to detail

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The dress and headgear in a few cenotaph sculptures point to Phoenician origins of travellers on the Silk Route

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A quick break where I am served cool drinks and serenaded 🙂 after the walk around the fort and the abandoned village. I find that the hotel doesn’t just count on its luxurious outlook, but makes the small details count too.

 

Back at Suryagarh, and my experience at the property goes up a notch when I realize that in its core essence, the hotel exemplifies well the concept of ‘grandness in simplicity’. Suryagarh’s outer look and its contrasting inner ambience is one of the finest examples of ‘unity in diversity’. This hotel firmly holds the spirit and colour of Jaisalmer in its staging and perfection.

Rising majestically from the sands of the Thar Desert, Suryagarh could well be one of Rajasthan’s many spectacular and ancient forts.

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You will find pink and red bougainvillea swaying their heads in the gentle breeze that sweeps the place while sunflowers and marigolds jauntily wait for the clouds to clear up so that they can soak in the sun.

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Every day my room has a new kind of burfi or mithai waiting on a tray for me {a subtle hint that the in-house sweet-maker is the star of the fortress}. Mithai devoured, I decide to have a late evening snack at Draksh – The Bar before heading back to my room to a take a power nap.

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After sunset, I stroll towards the central courtyard. I sit there under the stars, sipping on the signature Suryagarh cocktail {vodka based and fabulous}, listening to musicians of the Manganiyar community enthrall with Rajasthani Folk and Sufi songs.

The day comes to an amazing close with the “Thar Dinner” which is a culmination point for the Silk Route Trail. The skies are dark and the “Monsoon Magic” experience that Suryagarh has invited me for seems to be in its most perfect setting when I reach the dinner venue. There is a low seating arrangement with large bolsters helping me stay comfortable.

Even as musicians jovially play folk ditties, I take in the sight of canopies rustling in the warm breeze, and rose petals strewn with lamps that light up the place making the entire setting look like a figment of my most beautiful imagination. Cocktails, sherbets and wines are brought in by orange-turbaned servers… Rajasthani dancers in shimmery colourful ensembles add exuberance moving blithely to the merry melodies of the musicians while an interpreter narrates the story of the song being sung. I enjoy a lavish meal out in the open which is a brilliant representation of the celebratory feasts enjoyed by travellers at the end of their journey in a communal setting. If you were to look at all of it from far away, you would feel that you’ve been transported to the golden era of our regal past. The soul of Suryagarh truly lies in its inescapable bond with the Thar Desert.

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A storybook experience of a dinner under the starry sky with food and drink to complete the merry making and folk dancers and musicians to amplify the desert experience. All of this has an extraordinary impact on travellers, with every guest bidding adieu to the place with high hopes for their future visit.

 

End note: Jaisalmer offers so much through its culture and history but what makes my visit to the city truly magical, and my experience even more evocative is the unmistakable connection between the hotel and the local culture and surroundings. A luxury property that ties itself to the humble culture of its surroundings and still holds high the banner of hospitality, Suryagarh is a hotel that I highly recommend!

 

Stay tuned for Part 3 of my stay at Suryagarh, Jaisalmer.

 

* Disclaimer: This review was done on an invitation from Suryagarh, and is a narrative of the author’s experience at the property. Due judgement and care has been applied by the author to remain objective and unbiased in the review.

 

Photography: Harsha Praveen

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* I love bringing together a bunch of conflicting items and weaving my own sense of one-ness to them. *

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