When I first stood gawking at the magnificent gate, camera in hand and mouth wide open, little did I know I was standing dwarfed by the same façade that was an eternal part of an award-winning TV show I’ve been a huge fan of… “Balika Vadhu”.
Jaisalmer – the city of wind-swept sand dunes, warm and dreamy sunsets and star-studded skies, is quiet at peace sitting in the heart of the formidable Thar desert. Its majestic forts, ornate havelis and traditional houses all look regally gilded, built from the indigenous gold-honey hued sandstone. This is how Jaisalmer is designated as ‘The Golden City’, where people’s hearts exude a golden warmth, just like their houses.
Fort Rajwada carries this legacy forward with utmost pride. Just 20 minutes drive from Jaisalmer Airport, this colossal hotel leaves you awestruck with its regal opulence, every nook and corner demanding your attention. Brace yourself to experience the love, warmth, hospitality and majestic grandeur like never before in this beautiful oasis of tranquility.
Take a stroll around the property and you’ll get an insight of how much pain, efforts, love and attention to the minutest detail has gone into making it a visual treat. The sitting area is so huge, it looks like a mini airport. The floor-to-ceiling mural at the reception is splendid. Walls painted in light pastels reflect the sunlight that keeps streaming in from all sides. It’s fascinating to learn that the elegant balconies made of sand-stone carved in intricate latticed work are centuries old and originally belonged to the Mughals. There’s artwork, carvings and paintings everywhere and all of them are a handiwork of the local artisans.
While the check-in formalities were being completed, I waddled around only to return all bemused and wondering, will three days be enough to explore? What I actually meant was Jaisalmer and the hotel. Will three days be enough to explore both of them together?
Fort Rajwada is an ideal stay option both for leisure and business travelers with an array of rooms in Deluxe, Suites and Mahal categories. Sounds like an ode to Rajasthan royalty, doesn’t it? Deluxe Room is good enough for a couple. More than good. It’s super huge.
All rooms are splendidly furbished with modern amenities and still exude the old-world charm.
After a tiring day of soaking in the sights Jaisalmer has to offer, sink into the cosy, plump bed for a night of sound sleep. Wake up to the tranquil, lazy morning you crave but almost never get in the city.
Try to peel yourself off the bed, and if you do succeed, hop down the stairs to kick-start your day with scrumptious breakfast that awaits at the Roopal Restaurant, the kitchen of which also whips up an excellent contemporary and local regional cuisine. The Laal Maas here is something you shouldn’t miss. They spice it up as per the tolerance levels of your tongue and tummy.
Before you head for breakfast or after you’ve had your fill, I really suggest, toss away your flip-flops and take a stroll barefoot on the lush green and perfectly manicured grounds, bathing in the early morning sun.
With superhuge sunflowers smiling in their utmost glory, abundant rays of morning sun and artsy objects scattered around, you have plenty of opportunities to click Instaworthy photos that won’t even need a filter.
Imagine posing like a royalty in one of these.
The terrace offers kaleidoscope views of the panoramic cityscape.
Stretch your legs in one of these gazebos and allow the desert wind to be flirty or just pose for pictures cuz you wont be in a hurry to make your way down.
Roopal Restaurant adjacent is Sonal, which is a fine dining restaurant. With its luxurious interiors and imperial decor, it makes your dining experience at par with royalty.
While away your time at the Pattu Bar with drinks and a platter of authentic Mughlai and continental snacks. If nothing, just plonk down on their cushiony chairs with a cup of coffee and just soak in the vibe of the place.
Service in all of the three restaurants is exceptional. Friendly, polite, eager to serve and with their trademark smile and simplicity. We got a new friend in Bhavani Singh who regaled us with anecdotes about Jaisalmer, its erstwhile kings and the Indian Army. The conversations kept spilling over three days. Speaking to people like him who’re so passionate about their belonging, you realize how deeply engraved are the scars of the battles that were fought through centuries and how the current generations still live with them.
There’s also the Rooftop Sunset Bar that provides a perfect setting for a romantic candlelit dinner under the starlit desert skies.
The hotel can also arrange a Pool-side barbeque while you surrender yourself to being serenaded by the local artists who put up a mesmerizing show of their craft and having you totally glued to your seats.
You only get the real feel of the desert when you actually spend some time with it. Like spending a night in a desert camp, bashing the dunes in a 4X4, going for a long ride on a camel, enjoying folk dances hunkered down under the starlit skies and gorging on some lipsmacking food.
Save the best for the last. So, here’s all about the service. It’s the people that make this spectacular hotel a place you want to live in for as much time as you can. Bhavani Singh in the restaurant, Hansraj in housekeeping and Roop Singh who chauffeured us… unforgettable, all of them. Speaking to Roop Singh, I realized the value of every 100 bucks a driver earns as tips.
Lastly, there’s Vaibhav, Manager and the star of Fort Rajwada. Any recruiters reading this will surely be tempted to poach him. hehe. Smart, capable, pleasant, patient, amicable and deeply passionate about everything Jaisalmer, despite not actually being the product of the city. He comes with vast experience having worked with some of the prestigious hotels across India. He gave us a feeling that we weren’t just guests but a part of their family. He planned our trip with the same passion he would have planned his own and altered it many many times as per our needs without a frown. Had it not been for Vaibhav, it would have been just another holiday.
Considering how humble and modest they are, I’m sure they’ll attribute their success to us, their amazing guests; but it’s actually them who make the place worth living…even if it is for just 2 days.
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Warm welcome to BitesandPlaces!
My humble little blog has its own story to tell… my story… I’m gregarious being, vagabond at heart and have a monstrous appetite for food. I used to be a Human Resource professional until few years ago. To be among, with and for people was the reason I’d chosen this field.
Being in HR, I could only accomplish the ‘people’ part. I still yearned to be in those places I saw on TV and travel magazines and craved to eat all kinds of food that lulls you into coma. I didn’t want to be just a spectator anymore. I wanted to be in those pictures.
Luck smiled at me and I fell sick with an awful heart, lungs and liver disorder. Family said stay home. Rest.
Rest? Were they crazy? I grabbed this opportunity and quit my job; to pursue my passion – people, places and food.
Being on my own gave me lot of spare time for all the three.
I’m not a professional cook, but I’m mighty passionate about cooking. Although Indian, BitesandPlaces does not restrict itself to just the dishes of my country, which are toothsome beyond doubt. I’ve also tried to put together a bunch of mouth-watering and eye-pleasing recipes scattered from all parts the world. A lot of them are a tribute to my mum’s kitchen, the ones I grew up with. Few of them are a result of my experimentation and few others, borrowed from my generous friends 🙂
I religiously follow Andrew Zimmern’s favorite quote – what looks good to your eyes, EAT IT!! After all food is something that follows no boundaries, isn’t it.
Travel, I believe, is about exploring new places, meeting new people, building new relations, soaking in their culture, gorging on their cuisines, discovering their stories and of course, capturing all of these in my teeny-tiny camera.
After having been there and done that, I was inspired to share my travelogues with you, encourage you to travel and in some way find a bit of your happiness through me.
Thus BitesandPlaces was born!
Life’s a journey and people, places and food are all a part of it. So, come along with me and eat your way through this journey called Life…
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