Aug 5, 2014

Posted by in Luxury travel, Travel Reviews | 1 Comment

Khammaghani Sa!- Hotel Suryagarh

Khammaghani Sa!- Hotel Suryagarh

Spread over 42 acres, Suryagarh is the brainchild of Manvendra

Singh Shekhawat and boasts of being Jaisalmer’s first luxury

property. I knew I was in royal territory when a jeep of orange

turbaned men drew up to me to escort me to the hotel. The road

leading up to the hotel is ideal driving territory as it allows

you to drive at your own pace and soak up views of the infinite

stretch of desert around. We soon arrived at the grand gateway where three doormen welcomed me with the traditional musical instrument called the nagada and as the local Manganiyars sang a welcome song, a priest marked my forehead with a tikka and I was showered with rose petals as I took my first step in.

A welcome that truly marks the hospitality Rajasthan is known most for.


It is not difficult to see that the owner has a knack for matching taste and luxury in just the right proportions. The contemporary twist on the quintessential royal stay is hard to miss – right from the gardens that are home to over 11,000 flowers of different varieties to the doorways and pathways that are all carved in the local Dabri sandstone.

The central courtyard in shades of soft yellow is bound by 56 pillars each of which is handmade over a period of eight days. I could not help but notice fossils, that I was told are 200 million years old and adorn the long corridors and pathways. The lobby lounge nearby houses rare swords, daggers and royal arms that remind you of the aan, baan and shaan of Rajasthani soldiers. The manager informed me that the entire lounge is done up in Burma teakwood procured from the local havelis in Rajasthan.



The hotel has a total of 62 suites and rooms and it is interesting to see how pictures of the local folks adorn the walls of the pathways leading upto the rooms. The suites artfully combine the classical with the modern and the subtle colours lend a soothing touch to the entire decor. Walk over to the windows and you will be greeted with magnificent views of the dunes. While each suite is a reflection of the hotel’s culture

and design, the Jaisalmer suite, made of Jaisalmer stone, is particularly indulgent with a private terrace and pool overlooking the desert.

jaisalmer suite

As I took in the lavishly decorated room which was to be my abode for the next three days, my eyes fall on a hand written note by the Chief Halwai chef accompanied by sweets, a rather interesting personal touch. Post a hot shower, the sight of the soft linen did seem like a tempting idea but my stomach was craving food.

The magic carpet was rolled out and there I was, tucking into a continental lunch accompanied by one of the smoothest gin cocktails I have had in a long time. As I chatted with the manager about my weakness for street food, on special request the chef was happy to present a specially prepared local chaat. Did I even notice him being signalled for this?

I will never know. The chefs, in line with true Rajasthani culture, whip up a variety of delectable dishes each time. Lunch was Dahi kebabs,

Papad sabzi and Dal-baati. I did wish they had gone easy on the ghee but hey, if you are eating Rajasthani food, you have to like ghee. We also visited Draksh, the hotel bar where the theme of medieval meets contemporary continues. The translucent marble at the counter is imported from Pakistan and the shelf behind it quirkily curves in the shape of the typical Rajasthani moustache and holds 20 bottles of wine at a time.

I have always believed that it is experiences that make a place. And the folks at Suryagarh take that experience beyond Living food, stay and hospitality. Needless to say, when you are in Jaisalmer, you cannot leave without knowing what it is like to spend an evening in a desert, with nothing around you except an unending expanse of rippled sand. So, I was taken on a sundowner, a tailor-made itinerary where they take you for a drive through the areas around, finally ending in the desert and perfectly timed for the sunset. As you soak in the views while listening to Rajasthani folk music, the head chef prepares his signature barbecue snacks that are served with some of the finest cocktails especially for you as you relax on canopied divans which are accompanied by braziers with hot coals to warm you up on a cold evening at the desert.

suryghrag evening

No wonder then, that I woke up the next morning with a hangover, which I must say was completely worth it. The cure was not too far away, either. A dip in Neel, the indoor pool designed like a Roman bath and highlighted by Mediterranean blue tiles was a peaceful respite. You could also opt for Rait, the hotel spa where you can unwind with customized therapies, including signature facials, hot stone massages and full-body

oil scrubs. Built on the concept of the sifting yet regenerating ‘rait’ which means ‘sand’ in Hindi, the spa is a careful blend of tradition and cultural insight, incorporating elements of intoxicating aromas and exotic oils in what promises to be the ultimate natural rejuvenation.

For breakfast I found myself spoilt for choice yet again between their multi cuisine restaurant Nosh and a more tempting option of breakfast with the peacocks. While the restaurant starts your day with an indulgent menu that is a tasteful blend of the local and international flavours, what awaits you at the other end is a drive deep into the desert just an hour before the dawn for a breakfast of eggs and mash served with Cognac and cigars as you watch the peacocks being fed and the sun rising over the CEO LIFESTYLE 98 APRIL 2014 fort. I chose the latter. Of course, if you are the kind who needs to clock an hour or two on the treadmill, you can always check into Akhara, the gymnasium equipped with the most modern equipments. One can also request for an outdoor Yoga session.

Not that so much luxury leaves you with any brainshare and intent to think about work, but for the compulsive workaholic, the hotel offers two conference rooms complete with drop down screens, wi-fi and state of the art audio-visual equipment. Rajasthan carries music in its soul and it was inevitable that we spend an evening dedicated to just that. The Dune dinner organised by the hotel takes your luxury trip to newer heights.

The exotic twists in the food, a true representation of a nomadic hunt menu as they say, takes you on a culinary adventure of a different kind. It is an evening in the sand dunes set against the backdrop of mesmerising folk singers and dancers as lanterns light up the entire desert dining area. Stunning fireworks made the night even more enchanting, making it the perfect end to my stay at Suryagarh. In the words of Pablo Picasso, ‘Everything you can imagine is real here’.

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  1. Have heard a lot about this place. It is on my shortlist for hotels in Rajasthan.

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