Shagun Gandhi finds pleasure in the generous, luxurious heart of Rajasthan
Traveling has always been something that intrigues. We can live so many lives just by travelling, exploring different cultures and traditions, and experiencing new ambience. And what better way to celebrate one’s third anniversary than to be surprised by one’s better half with a vacation straight into the heart of royalty!
We first flew down to Jodhpur and checked into what I believe is the best hotel in the world – Umaid Bhavan. It’s difficult not to feel like a princess the moment you step into this ethereal heritage property. This hotel is a destination in itself and you will simply not feel like checking out. From their warm welcome with fragrant rose petals and the traditional Ghoomer dance to their extravagant ambience and variety of royal services, we were mind blown. Addressing you as Hukum Sahiba, they will arrange each meal like a fairy tale with the most lip-smacking Rajasthani delicacies.
Next, we headed to explore the rugged, magnificent Mehrangarh Fort, standing atop a raised hillock 400 metres above the surrounding terrain. The fort is one of the largest in India and very well known for its architecture. After a three-hour tour in this gigantic fort, a feast for the taste-buds awaited in the form of Pyaaz Kachori, Ghevar with Rabdi and Rasmalai at Janata Sweets. We also tried the famous Bel Sharbat at Chunnilal…Our next stop was Bikaner!!
Five hours’ drive on one of the best road journeys experienced so far, we reached our hotel, Narendra Bhavan. Our stay at this fabulous property was a crash course on the royal legacy of the region. Contemporary interiors, exquisite artefacts and dining under the stars… it doesn’t get better than this. The next day was dedicated to the massive Junagarh Fort, situated in the centre of the city, with its series of art galleries, corridors, courtyards displaying various artefacts related to history and the culture of Bikaner and exquisite gold artwork on the walls and pillars.
All that tramping around the fort fired our appetite for the Ras Malai and ghee-laden freshly made puris with aloo sabzi at Chotu Motu Joshi. Incidentally, copious amounts of ghee supposedly also went into the construction of the Bandasar Jain temple which we visit next, to add to its strength! Winding down with a dip in our hotel pool overlooking the city capped off a day well spent.
The drive to Jaisalmer the next morning was blissful with views of sand dunes and camels but also a tad tiring. Awaiting us was Suryagarh, nestled in the desert, yet offering a world class lavish and luxurious experience. If it’s humanly possible to get bored of splashing in the pool surrounded by gorgeous peacocks, there’s archery, billiards, Rajasthani music and performances, spa and also visits to the Samm sand dunes, Gadsisar Lake, Desert National Park and Kuldhara to keep you enchanted.
The following day, it was a return to Jodhpur, this time to simply relax at the sumptuous Taj – Hari Mahal property which combines authentic architectural heritage with modern luxury living. How to live like a Maharajah? We dunnit! And if you’re still clueless, Khamma Ghani is the Rajput term of greeting in use since the 8th century!