Our Editor-in-Chief experiences the charm of a luxe farm stay amid wilderness at Mihir Garh, a boutique property near Jodhpur. By Aindrila Mitra
There’s a certain charm about Rajasthan that I can never quite pin down. Besides the fact that I’m married to a Rajput and Jaipur is my second home, the state itself has a charisma—in its history, culture, landscape, and simply its people—that draws me back often. So, when Luxury Escapes curates a weekend itinerary to the iconic Relais & Châteaux boutique hotel Mihir Garh, I can hardly resist.
It’s a 50-minute flight from Delhi to Jodhpur, and Mihir Garh is about an hour’s drive from Jodhpur Airport. As we by-pass the city and drive past Rohat, I get a glimpse of rural Rajasthan. We even get held up in a traffic jam of cattle near Khandi village. But as soon as we enter through the gates of Mihir Garh, I am enamoured. It’s nearly sunset, and this ‘sun fortress’—as its name suggests—looks like a picture postcard of Rajasthan.
Built over 25 hectares, the eight-suite property is manned by 40 staffers. That’s quite a generous staff-guest ratio, I observe. And Avijit Singh, the owner of House of Rohet, concurs. Over some G&T that evening, with Aneesh Bhasin, the man behind Svami Drinks, taking over the bar, Singh gets candid. “We like to keep our service personalised. Mihir Garh can accommodate up to 20 guests, and the staff can take care of their individual needs.” I have to agree with the hotelier. The service is immaculate and the housekeeping top-notch.
Mihir Garh was built from scratch over two years and opened its doors in 2009. “Our concept is a village haveli. So, you find only rounded finishes. The decor has a pop of colours inspired by village huts,” says Singh over a flavourful dinner of beetroot salad, roast lamb in rosemary sauce, and classic crème brûlée. Each suite at the property spans 158 square metres, and comes with a private jacuzzi or plunge pool. My suite—the A3—has a plunge pool and a sun deck that serves as the perfect spot for my morning yoga and meditation. Peacocks give me company over my cuppa, and Marwari horses from the stables of Mihir Garh roam freely in the semiarid shrub and bush country within the property fences. It’s the kind of sight you want to wake up to every morning.
My second day is eventful. There’s the promise of a shikar dinner, with khad meat prepared by Chef Vicky Ratnani being the pièce de résistance. It’s a traditional Rajasthani dish that requires lamb meat to be marinated, wrapped in rotis, packed in a gunny bag, buried in a pit, topped by a charcoal fire, and covered with sand. The whole process of cooking takes eight to nine hours, and it’s a royal delicacy served with dollops of style. That morning, the gang—Bhasin, the chef, and I—is up early. When you’re amid wilderness, how can you not opt for a village safari? I spot the blackbuck and an owl sunbathing, but the best part is our visit to the Bishnoi village near Dungarpur.
The Bishnoi community practises sustainable living, and the family we visit is one of the few still residing in the area. I meet 87-year-old Saajan Singh, who lives with his children and grandchildren and has made all the huts with his own hands. Considered to be the country’s first eco-warriors and tree-huggers, and the protectors of the blackbuck, the Bishnoi people follow 29 principles given to them by Jambhoji Maharaj in the 15th century. Touchingly, Saajan Singh’s granddaughter Sunita affirms, “I want to become a teacher and serve my people with education.” The household received electricity only a couple of years back, but their vision is genuine.
In the evening, I mount a bedecked camel cart to reach my shikar dinner venue. It takes about 15 minutes to arrive at a camp lit up with mashaals and candles. The evening is euphoric as some Kalbelias perform and guests relax on charpoys over kebabs. Finally, the khad is pulled out of the pit and served hot, its aromas dancing away beyond the camp. As I take my first bite, with just enough light from the bonfire lighting our gathering, the meat melts in my mouth. I look up at the clear sky with stars shining down on us. If this is not magical, what is? Rooms from INR 45,000 (plus taxes) per night; shikar dinner at INR 10,000 (plus taxes) per head.