Bathed in a golden hue, the rugged landscape looked like a painting. Standing quietly on the sundeck when I soaked in the aura, the wind whispered, announcing the end of a beautiful day. As I looked at the setting sun in the unending horizon of the Thar Desert, I realized that I was in the middle of nowhere. All I cared at that moment was indulging in the luxury of being at the world’s most extraordinary hotel, named by Lonely Planet.
Mihir Garh is nothing less than a dream in the middle of Thar Desert, far away from the bustling Jodhpur. Unlike many converted fort palace hotels in Rajasthan, Mihir Garh was the vision of Sidharth and Rashmi Rohet, who chased their dream to turn it into a reality by building this exceptional fairy-tale fortress in the desert.
The name Mihir Garh connotes ‘The Fort of the Sun’ and it appears as if the hotel has emerged out of the Marwar sand dune itself. The rustic brown color magnificent fort palace is unique and elegant. The seamless blend between the cherished dream and reality is what Mihir Garh signifies.
With only nine exclusive suites, Mihir Garh has redefined luxury in true sense. The aesthetically designed, hand-picked artefacts, private courtyards, sitting area, fireplaces, terrace, plunge pools, Jacuzzi and the uncompromising royal hospitality, you name it and they have it.
The pure joy of experiencing the royal and elaborate lifestyle of the bygone days is what is truly defined here. I was overwhelmed by the warm welcome upon my arrival. I could not take my eyes off from the spectacular sand castle. Soon I was escorted to my appointed suite and the very first impression of the luxurious suit was jaw-dropping. I instantly realized why this unique boutique hotel is called “The Most Extraordinary in the world.” Everything was exclusive there.
The mud painted walls, stylish furnishings, intricately carved wooden ceiling, color-coordinated cushions, paintings to curtain holders; you will see the finest collection in every corner. I was told that the village women of Khandi and Haji have lovingly created the fireplaces using age old techniques of cow dung and clay. Quite interestingly, while taking a walk inside my room, I noticed the owner’s love for horses. Whether it is the pen stand, magazine holder or anything for that matter, the reflection of his ardent love for horses is quite evident. They have the best collection of Marwari horses in India.
The mornings at Mihir Garh are pure bliss. I still remember the first glimpse of the Marwari horses wandering freely around the property with the rising sun. The luxury of having a morning cup of tea in the middle of desert in your sun-drenched private terrace where the only sound audible is the sound of wind and tweeting birds was just the perfect setting for my long cherished royal holiday.
I could spend the entire day languidly in those arm chairs just by watching the unfolding layers of nature.
Having breakfast by the pool was quite a luxurious indulgence. Watching the Nilgai (blue bull is the largest Asian Antelope) and gracefully wandering Peacocks in the golden bushes are the sights you would not like to miss from your breakfast table. The delicious spread of Indian traditional breakfast with the splendid views was what I enjoyed the most during the morning.
Your experience of indulging in pure luxury will be incomplete if you miss the signature experiences that Mihir Garh offers to its guests. Mihir Garh likes you to travel a few extra miles to experience the real Rajasthan. The signature experiences are the exclusively designed holiday program that allows their guests to see the varied sides of Rajasthan, whether it is the village Safari, Royal Picnic, Shikar dinner or culinary workshops. I had the best time experiencing all of these during my stay at the hotel.
The village Safari is the best way to introduce guests to rural Rajasthan. This was not the first time when I embarked on a village safari in Rajasthan. I had visited the Khejarli village way back in 2012 to meet the Bishnoi community. The Bishnois are considered as the first environmentalists of India. The Bishnoi people are very nature driven people and they prefer to stay in their farmland rather than in a village. They are the great protector of nature and the Black Buck Antelope . As we negotiated our way through those dusted roads of the village in the jeep, the rustic scene of the village overwhelmed me.
I also visited a traditional household of a Bishnoi family to have a close look of their daily lifestyle. I was welcomed by the lady of the house with a big smile. She took me around the mud houses, showing their traditional kitchen and also introduced me to her husband and son. Interacting with them, sharing a smile and also living those precious moments with the locals was absolutely priceless.
I also attended the opium ceremony in a Brahmin village nearby during my safari. This was one of the most thrilling parts of the safari where I was taken to a household in the village to see the ancient opium ceremony, performed by the elderly men.
Though opium is banned in India, it has become a daily community ritual in the interior parts of western Rajasthan. The village elders sit in the middle, grind the dried opium into powder, mix it with water, and strain it through a fine wooden funnel, filter it and then it is sipped from cupped hands three times.
During the ceremony, one of them even asked me if I wished to taste it. And I did not decline the offer.
It was everything you can imagine a royal picnic would be. The drive through the deserted land, accompanying the Black Bucks in those well spread bushes, when you are welcomed to the exclusively set up ornate tent next to a lake, well laid out floor, proper sitting arrangement to relax under the tree and the most authentic Rajasthani cuisines presented to you under the pitched tent was undoubtedly a luxurious royal indulgence in the desert. I honestly felt like a Royalty at that moment.
Also Read: A Few Extra Miles to Khuri Desert
The Shikar Dinner –The name itself sounded quite intriguing to me. I had no idea how it would turn out to be until I experienced it. If I have to select my best moment at Mihir Garh, apart from everything I had so far, my pick will undoubtedly be the Shikar dinner.
This signature experience takes you back to the bygone era when Shikar or hunting was considered to be the sport of the day. And after a successful hunting session, it was being celebrated in the wilderness under the moonlight in the desert. I felt as if I was re-living those hunting days of a Maharaja when I was taken to the middle of the desert on a full moon night.
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Travelling on the camel cart, led by the man with a lantern, with the sound of camel bells creating a rhythm and the dazzling moon at its glorious best, I wanted to lose myself to the magical aura of the desert. How I wish to conspire to freeze that moment for ever.
As soon as I reached the location for the Shikar Dinner, I was welcomed with the soulful song and dance performances by the Kalbalia dancers and folk artists and the delicious barbecues with the glow of the bonfire. The heartfelt songs, graceful dance performances and an endless conversation with the guests made me loose count of the hours.
Soon we were accompanied towards the dining set-up where the whole area was lit up for the Shikar dinner. The experience of having my dinner in the middle of the vast desert in the dark was undoubtedly the best take away from my trip to Mihir Garh.
When the endless expanse of nothingness entices you, the sound of the desert starts ringing loud in your ears, quest for solitude chases you and the urge to stay back in the middle of nowhere becomes inviting , that’s what I call an experience of a lifetime. Mihir Garh is not just a standalone boutique fort palace hotel in Thar Desert, it is one experience you must live through.
Note: I was invited on a Press Trip to Mihir Garh, Jodhpur, Rajasthan
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