Skip to main content

Featured Post

The Elephanta Caves

The Elephanta Caves , located on Elephanta Island, or Gharapuri, about 11 Km off the coast of the Gateway of India, Mumbai, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A visit to these caves, excavated probably in the 6 th century CE, is awe-inspiring, and also thought-provoking. Over the years, I have visited the caves a number of times, and also attended a number of talks by experts in the fields of art, history and archaeology on the caves. Together, they help me understand these caves, their art, and the people they were created for, just a little bit better. Every new visit, every new talk, every new article I read about the caves, fleshes out the image of what the island and the caves would have been like, at their peak. I last wrote about the caves on this blog, in 2011, almost exactly 11 years ago. Since then, my understanding of the caves has, I would like to think, marginally improved. Hence this attempt to write a new and updated post, trying to bring to life, the caves of Elephan

My Suryagarh Experience

The early morning sun streamed in through the window, and I awoke to the muted strain of music. Eager to trace its source, I hurried downstairs, and was welcomed by the sight of a pair of peacocks ambling on the lawn, and a flock of doves waddling in the corridor! My morning at Suryagarh couldn’t have begun on a better note! Spotting the musician sitting in one of the window niches, I sat down for a hot cup of tea, wishing that every morning would be as picturesque!

I was invited to Suryagarh to experience the Monsoon Magic in Jaisalmer, along with other bloggers and travel writers, and it was a trip which showed me a side of Jaisalmer I had never even imagined existed!

One of the corridors..

At first glance, Suryagarh resembles a fort/palace, but it isn’t a heritage property. It has only been built a few years back, but in the local style, with remarkable attention to detail and an attempt to recreate for visitors, a typical royal experience. From the gorgeous rooms to the delectable food, Suryagarh gave us a taste of royal luxury, with a modern twist!

That's the room, or rather, the suite, I was in! 

Food is normally the last thing I focus on, while travelling, but the spread at Suryagarh had me drooling, and wishing Shankar and Samhith were along. They would really have done justice to the never ending courses that just kept coming on and on… at every meal! The Halwai breakfast, with kachoris, samosas, jalebis and sweets of every description was surely one of the highlights of the trip, and the lunch with local specialties had each of us asking for more! In fact, the Ghevar (a local delicacy) was so delicious, that I asked for some to be packed, so I could take them home for Samhith! (By the way, he enjoyed them so much that he now wants to go to Suryagarh so he can have some more!!!)

Coins from British India find their way to the wall 

Music is an important part of the Suryagarh experience, and they are making efforts in their own way, to preserve the musical heritage of the region. Whether it is the Algoza player in the window, the musicians on the dunes, or Kaki singing serenely in the courtyard, music was all around us, an innate part of the ambiance!

The Algoza player..
yes, that double flute he is playing is called an 'Algoza', and I know that thanks to Sudha Ganapathi :)

While the stay and the food were certainly a great experience, what I really enjoyed were the excursions into the desert. “Explore the Unexplored” is the motto that drives Suryagarh, and over the two days we spent there, I realized how perfectly they adhered to it.

Steps, framed!

Their trails took us off the beaten path, literally, driving off the road, over paths I couldn't even see, to ancient, almost forgotten temples, villages cursed and abandoned, and a fort I hadn’t even known existed!

A temple stands lonely in the abandoned village of Khaba

Our tour was themed ‘The Desert Remembers’, and we re-traced the path taken by traders centuries ago, on the Silk Route. Our paths took us to fertile oases created by ancient, albeit efficient water conservation systems, and I realized that the desert wasn’t all about sand!

Is this a sight you would expect to see in the Thar desert? 

We ate a communal meal under the starlit sky, on the sand dunes stretching to eternity, and I almost felt the past come alive. At night, walking through a village believed to be haunted, we found ourselves holding hands; and, standing amidst tombs of travellers during the day, I said a silent prayer for those long gone.  Clambering upon rocks to see a glorious sunset, I found myself getting as excited as a child, at the sight of those ancient rocks, which contained the memories of not centuries, but eons! I had been told that that these hills were rich in fossils, but finding one simply rounded off the trip perfectly!


The Suryagarh experience, for me at least, lay more in these explorations, going off the beaten track, than the hotel itself. The Suryagarh GM, Karan Singh, while talking to us of the concepts and ideas behind Suryagarh, spoke of luxury, and how it meant different things to different people. To some, it might lie in the luxurious rooms, to others in sumptuous food, but to me, luxury lies in being able to explore, in seeing new places and listening to the stories woven around them. What I appreciate most about Suryagarh is the effort they have made, re-discovering the ancient sites and routes, and making it possible for us to experience them in comfort.

The peacock and doves at Suryagarh.

If there is one thing that made the Suryagarh experience extra special, it was the company I was in. Most of the travel bloggers – Nisha, Sankara, Srinidhi, Sid, and Ankita - I already knew, at least through their blogs. Those from the media – Kareena, Bhavna, Sonal, Priyal, Snigdha and Ritu – I didn’t know at all. We spent just two days together, but we got along so well, most of us wished we could extend the trip, just a little bit more! It was uncanny to see how fast we bonded, as if the desert had brought us together, for reasons beyond our imagination!

And that's our group... with the Suryagarh folks! 
Photo courtesy : Shrinidhi Hande

A few stray thoughts, if you are planning a trip to Jaisalmer, and considering Suryagarh –

  • Most of the places we visited are deep inside the desert, and are only visited by locals. This is, as yet, almost untouched by tourism. Even the Suryagarh people, who go there regularly, had locals helping with directions, so I would earnestly advice any of you wanting to explore these areas, not to go off by yourself. It is ludicrously easy to get lost.

  • Communal dinner on the Dunes and Breakfast with peacocks, both were wonderful experiences, possible only due to the massive efforts of the Suryagarh staff. These are both Suryagarh specials, and may not be possible otherwise.

  • Please remember, when you visit these sites, that many of them are sacred to the locals, and behave appropriately. Above all, please maintain the natural cleanliness of the area. I appreciated the efforts made by Suryagarh to bring back most of the garbage with them, so even if you go with others, please do the same.

To get an idea of our Suryagarh experience in its entirety, please do read some of my other blogposts, as well as articles written by my fellow travellers. Here are some links:

My posts:

Some posts from fellow bloggers:

  • Ancient irrigation system around Jaisalmer, by Sid (Sid is probably the only one among us to have written an exhaustive series on our trip. Please do go through his blog to see the rest of his posts. His photos especially, are amazing, and he has his own version of the Chudail trail, which is a must read!)
  • An exhaustive review of Suryagarh, from Shrinidhi (Shrinidhi’s Go Pro was the hero of the trip, and never have I figured in so many selfies, or ‘Go Pro Selfies’ as we called them! He has even made a number of videos , so go check them out!)

Articles from the mainstream media writers who accompanied us:
I haven't been able to find links to the others' articles, so if you guys read this, please leave a comment with the links or send me a mail, please! 


  1. Great post Anuradha...made me remember the entire trip :) I think we were a group of super fab people, together for a FAM :)

    1. Thank you, Sid! we were certainly a fab group of ppl, for a fam!

  2. Nice post! Looks like you had a wonderful time.

  3. What a great wrap up post Anu! I relived the entire trip. :) And yes, ours was a super fab group. :)

    Wish we travel again to some destination.

  4. Great set of write ups. Thanks for the mention

  5. You seem to have had a whale of a time! Enjoyed reading about it and looking at those wonderful pictures :)

    1. Oh yes, Usha, I really did have a whale of a time! Its a place you must certainly go to! I am sure you will enjoy it just as much!

  6. Nice post mam first of all your work is superb and your experience is awesome.


Post a Comment

Thanks so much for stopping by. Please leave a comment for me so that I will know you have been here....

Popular posts from this blog

The Havelis of Bikaner - A Photo Post

The lanes are narrow , twisting and turning amidst buildings old and new. Crumbling old structures with intricate workmanship stand side by side with art deco buildings, and more modern constructions, which follow no particular style. Autos, bicycles, motorcycles and vans rush past, blowing their horns as loudly as possible, while cows saunter past peacefully, completely unaffected by the noise. In the midst of all this chaos, children play by the side, and women go about their chores, as we explore these by-lanes of Bikaner, and its beautiful Havelis. Facade of one of the Rampuria Havelis

Ladakh - Planning The Trip

Over 2000 Km by road, in around 10 days. Stunning landscapes, wonderful people. That sums up our Ladakh trip. But how did it actually work? How did we make it happen? Read on to find out!  Leh, the capital of Ladakh , is accessible by air and road. Flying into Leh is the easiest, and time-saving option, while the road is the time consuming one, but with the added advantage of driving past some of the most beautiful landscapes in our country. Each option has much to recommend it, and we chose the road for just one reason – altitude sickness. Altitude sickness was one of my biggest concerns, since I suffer from motion-sickness. Yes, I do travel a lot, but that is despite my condition, and, over the years, have learnt how to handle it. I struggled with it when we visited Nathu-La in Sikkim, and wondered if I would be able to manage a week at the even higher altitudes that we would encounter in Ladakh. This was the reason we stuck to a basic plan, of only 9 days in Ladakh, though we

Bhedaghat - Home of the 81 Yoginis

The Narmada flows down the mountains , carving out a path for herself as she makes her way down to the plains of Central India. She cascades from the rocks, her fine spray making it appear as if billows of smoke (dhuan) arise from the flowing streams of water (dhaar), giving it the name Dhuandhar. Dhuandhar Falls The force of her flow creates a gorge , smoothening and carving out the rocks into fantastic shapes, the pure white of the rocks standing starkly against the shades of the water. It is a joy to cruise down the river in a boat, seeing the natural contours created by the river, now famous as the Marble Rocks. We are at Bhedaghat, located on the banks of the Narmada near Jabalpur, where thousands of visitors turn up to see these natural landscapes, creations of the sacred Narmada, and pay obeisance to her. However, to me, the most interesting thing about Bhedaghat, isn’t the falls or the rocks, or even the river. What makes Bhedaghat special is t