Have you ever stayed in a place so beautiful where you found it hard to distinguish between dreams and reality?
We did, and very recently so.
If the thought of waking up to a beautiful sunrise in your private terrace, with your feet dipped in your private Jacuzzi, with the view of an endless desert with black bucks and peacocks prancing around, and bougainvillea dancing to the music of the desert winds stirs anything in you, then you know Mihirgarh is for you!
Mihirgarh Fort, once a dream conceived and nurtured beautifully by Siddharth and Rashmi Rohet, now stands tall and beautiful in the middle of the Thar Desert as if the desert winds and sands sculpted its very towers themselves. ‘The Fort of the Sun’ is every bit an architect’s delight and a traveller’s paradise. Every inch of the palace exudes luxury and uniqueness.
Shivani and I visited Mihirgarh at a fairly pleasant time of the year, January, so the desert was very welcoming! Every minute since we stepped foot into the beautiful sand castle was spent soaking in the lap of luxury. The fortress boasts of nine suites, each one bigger than 1700 square feet and splendid in its own way. The suites are named Alishan and Shandar – the names come from the fine Marwari Stallions from the Rohet Stables, and at this point it would be wise to tell you all that they have the absolute best collection of Marwari horses in India, whom we got to meet later at Rohetgarh. Such handsome horses, we were crushing on them!
Back to the property, each of these suites treasure private Jacuzzis, plunge pools, private terraces and exquisite private courtyards. They are built aesthetically with so much precision, that you can see the Rohet family’s ethereal taste in the smallest of details. For instance, their love for horses comes to life in intricate designs of the lamps and even curtain holders and door knobs.
The aesthetics are classy and subtle, with white and beige forming the basics everywhere – rich in its own way without going bold with the colors, it leaves a soothing impact on you! The majestic mud painted walls, infinity pool overlooking the desert landscape, intricately carved designs in and out, and delectable cuisines to choose from weave such a beautiful picture, it’s hard to resist going there.
The rooms look traditional and modern at the same time. Each room has TVs, coffee stations and mini bars to suit your requirements, while the fireplace and high wooden beds and décor give you a time-honoured traditional touch.With only nine suites, you can rest assured that privacy is of utmost importance here so you can enjoy the company of your partner or your family here. Hospitality is top notch – Smiling turban clad jodhpuri staff make sure that if you want something and you get it.The common areas are as grand as regal as the suites, with peacocks painted on one wall and color coordinated cushions making for an ornate pool lounge. High Tea in the fountain garden is extraordinary- orange and pink flowers lavishly adorning the walls around, birds chirping by and the water fountain are the only sounds to be heard. Dinner by the infinity pool is as beautiful as you see the horses running around while the sun gently sinks in.
And if that wasn’t enough, the boutique hotel offers a range of signature experiences, each better than the one before. The Rohet family takes immense pride in their history and culture and make sure that their guests get the real taste of Rajasthan, while staying at any of their properties. The experiences are carefully handpicked and created to leave a lasting impression of the flavors of Rajasthan on the guest’s mind and heart.
We got to experience two of their many signature experiences, namely, Shikar Dinner and Village Safari.
As the clock struck 7, we got a call saying that our ride for the Shikar dinner was ready. Little did we know what lay ahead of us. We came out to see a camel cart with beautiful bedding and cushions waiting for us. We got in it, lay down and started our ride towards the era where hunting was a major sport and was celebrated with a good dinner and folk music in the wide expanse of the desert under the stars.
The ride was the best part of the trip. Living in polluted cities, I had forgotten what it felt like to just lie down under the canopy of the stars in complete darkness and enjoy that, just that moment. We rode on and on, a quiet night with only the sound of the camel hooves, spotting constellations over our heads, with the only other light present coming from a lantern. Writing about it makes me want to go back NOW!
We reached the desert where the dinner was hosted. A beautiful bonfire sparked in the centre, around which sat plump seating arrangements for us on one side, and on the other, folk musicians and dancers. We were treated to some amazing barbeque dinner and wine which was only highlighted by the Rajasthani folk music and dance and the august company of the other guests with whom the conversation flowed easily! We even danced along with the dancers and learnt some ghoomar from them!
The Rohet family firmly believes that the people make a place what it is, which is why to give you a feel of the real, rural rajasthan, they take you on a village safari where you can see what life is for people out there, visit their homes, interact with them. The people are so warm and welcoming that it makes for a beautiful, beautiful experience.
We visited the Bishnoi village in an open jeep, and with the desert winds getting caught in our hair, the black bucks running along our jeep, we knew we were experiencing the raw Rajasthan! We learnt that Bishnois are considered as the first environmentalists of India. They live in mud houses which are caked with cow dung to make them cooler during the summers. Till date, they live without electricity, and with pride. They make papads and other stuff for a living.
The Bishnoi women are beautiful in their Rajasthani poshaks. They wear beautiful antique jewelry, one of the noticeable ones among them is the moon shaped nose ring that they wear upon getting married. The size varies depending on how long one has been married, so the eldest ones would have real big nose rings. It’s a family tradition they have been living by till date. The bishnoi men are warm and always up for a good conversation.
On our way back from the Bishnoi village, we also visited another village where we got to witness the Opium ceremony. Extremely fascinating I must say! We entered a beautiful old house with blue walls where several men sat down with their big colourful turbans and beedis and introduced us to opium, which is otherwise banned in India, but is a daily ritual in western parts of Rajasthan. It has many medicinal properties. The opium ceremony is performed by the elderly men of the household who grind the dried opium, mix it with some water and then strain and filter it through a funnel. What’s interesting is the way it is consumed. The right way to consume it is not from a spoon or glass, but from another person’s cupped hand, thrice.
It was an enriching experience and we enjoyed every bit of it!
Few of their other signature experiences constitute of Bird watching, Royal picnic and culinary workshops. I hope to enjoy those in my next visit, which is not far, I can sense it!
Staying at Mihirgarh is definitely an experience one cannot afford to miss. If my word isn’t enough, maybe going through the list of awards they have received will change your mind!
It has been called ‘The world’s most extraordinary hotel’ by Lonely Planet. Some other noteable awards conferred on Mihirgarh are ‘The world’s best boutique hotel’ and ‘The world’s best romantic hotel’ by World Boutique Awards; ‘World’s Most Extraordinary Luxury Destination’ and ‘Best Hideaway Hotel Southwest Asia’ by World Luxury Awards. They have won some more awards by Tripadvisor and Tattler.
We had the privilege of staying at another one of their properties, Rohetgarh, which is the Rohet family’s ancestral home, and now, also a heritage hotel, one of the finest in India!
Our suite at Rohetgarh, was a duplex, with beautiful wall paintings, and the best part was the balcony which opened up to the view of the Lake, on the banks of which the property is situated. Sprawling lawns and manicured gardens, which invite a multitude of birds and dancing peacocks, herald your entry into this oasis where the bird song is the only sound you will hear. A superb swimming pool with four charming pavilions entices you for a refreshing dip. Dinners hosted here are often accompanied with an enchanting musical night which will have you clapping, tapping your feet, and ultimately dancing!
We also learnt that we weren’t the only ones finding the tranquility of the property beyond compare. The peace and tranquility of the environs have drawn writers from around the world. Rohet Garh has had the honour of hosting some of the most respected names in the literary world. Bruce Chatwin and William Dalrymple practically lived at Rohet Garh for four to five months working on their respective books, The Song-lines and The City of Djinns.
Morning scenes in the courtyard of Rohetgarh
This trip to Mihirgarh and Rohetgarh was every bit as royal as it seems to be in this article, or maybe even more. We would recommend it to every single soul in the world reading this! It’s not just the place, but the people and the experiences that make it such an unforgettable memory.
The pictures do no justice to the real beauty of the properties. You have to see it to believe it.
Hoping we inspire some of you to take this trip that you know in your hearts you want to do!