Exploring Suryagarh with Meiyang Chang and Discovery India

The last time I was at Suryagarh, I was completely bowled over by the numerous experiences so beautifully curated by the hotel, but most of all by the humility and hospitality of everyone who was a part of the team. However this year when I visited them again, the trip was completely different from anything I had done before, both as a travel blogger and photographer.

indias best jobs discovery suryagarh meiyang chang
Suryagarh at Jaisalmer
indias best jobs discovery suryagarh meiyang chang
Suryagarh after sunset! 

 This time I wasn't alone (I usually travel solo, though not necessarily by choice) and had someone super interesting and inquisitive join me for my explorations - Meiyang Chang. Now if you are in India and don't know this hugely popular TV personality, I can't add much. But many of you are not from India so here's a quick intro - Chang is a dentist turned singer turned a hugely successful and popular TV host. Over the years he has worked as a host on a wide variety of program - from cricket to movie awards to ghost shows and many many more. If you are curious about his name, he traces his roots back to China, though he speaks no Chinese and is far better than most other Indians in Hindi.

indias best jobs discovery suryagarh meiyang chang
Meiyang Changw at Khaba Fort

jaisalmer fort golden hour photo
Jaisalmer Fort

So an obvious next question is what was he doing in the extreme May heat of Jaisalmer, and why were we together. While I was obviously there to review Suryagarh, he was around to observe me review Suryagarh and join me as I explored Jaisalmer and around. Doesn't make much sense, right? Well, Chang was there with the crew of Discovery Channel trying to find out if Travel Blogging is one of new India's best jobs. And what could be a better way to do this than join a travel blogger on his job as he goes about doing whatever he does, albeit with a camera crew following him and the host of the show, Chang, in tow. Here's a short promo about what the show is going to be like!



Over the three days that we spent (literally from sunrise to sunset) walking in temperatures soaring at 44 degree Celsius, and sand storms brewing all around, I actually also got to become friends with his rather cool and down-to-earth celebrity (we took it a step further and are now friends on Facebook too...haha).

This quickly became not just a review of Suryagarh and Jaisalmer, but also of my knowledge and skills as a travel blogger. So here's a quick overview of the things we did how our time went by at Suryagarh and around :)

Grand welcome at Suryagarh!

The trip at Suryagarh always starts with a rather grand and larger-than-life welcome with songs, dance and local desert folk music, and this time it was no different. This is how I was welcomed too, and later Chang as well. If you don't know what's coming your way, you will get a very pleasant surprise :)

Breakfast at Khaba Fort

There is clearly nothing better than starting your day at sunrise at an old fort in the desert, far far away from the city. The exquisite breakfast here is one of the signature offering from Suryagarh and one of my favourite things to do here. The coolest part is that in the morning hundreds of peacocks also flock to the fort for food which an old man from the nearby village gets for them.

breakfast at Khaba Fort
Breakfast at Khaba Fort
Siddhartha Joshi discovery channel news
Picture credit: Meiyang Chang

Once you finish food, it's worth exploring the ruins of old Khaba village.

Read more: Breakfast at Khaba Fort


Lodhurva temple

Before it got too hot to do anything else, we decided to make out next pit stop at Lodhurva Temple, an important part of the temple trail. I met up with Sumer, a young inquisitive and technologically savvy guy who I had met a few years back as my follower on Twitter. This time he was our guide to the temple and later we also enjoyed some lovely desert folk music just outside the temple.

indias best jobs discovery suryagarh meiyang chang
Meiyang getting an introduction to desert folk music

indias best jobs discovery suryagarh meiyang chang
My my friend Sumer Singh :)

However the most fun bit was Chang and I sneaking out from the temple to Sumer's house for some delicious and cool homemade chhas.

We also shot with a local musician right outside the temple and it was quite an experience. Though the song didn't make the final cut, here's a short video from there :)



Walk in Jaisalmer market

The temperature Gods were clearly not with us and Chang and I, led by the Suryagarh team, went on to explore the local markets of Jaisalmer and eat some local delicacies, especially some local sweets.

Here's a clip from the show to enjoy :)



You can watch the live video that I made above. Live videos is certainly a part of what I do, by it was clearly a lot of fun to have Chang along as well :)



Rait the spa

I am used to this life of being on the road and in the heat for days on as part of travelling, but Chang was clearly tired and needed a break. So I recommended to him the something that's one of my favourite things to do at Suryagarh - spa at Rait.

While he enjoyed his time at the spa, I went out to check something new that didn't exist on my last visit here - private haveli just a short walk away from the main hotel building. It was love at first sight and this is certainly something I would love to review on my next trip there.

While we both rested at the hotel, I decided to make a plan to surprise (shock) Chang later in the evening. On my last trip to Suryagarh I had done something rather spooky, the Chudail Trail, and enjoyed it a lot. So I decided to invite Chang for it as well, but without actually telling him about the spooky bit.

Did he get scared? You will have to watch the episode on TV to know this 🙂

Thar dinner

Clearly the best way to end the day was with a dinner of the lifetime in the traditional Rajasthani style - from the same plate with hands. By now we were already quite pally, and I certainly didn't mind his delicious smelling meat dishes on the same plate. In fact for a few seconds I was also tempted to dig in :)

Getting ready for the Thar dinner - the only time I got ready :)

Chang looking rather happy with the meal :)

My second trip to Suryagarh came to an end too soon, but it was already far more memorable than the first one. Travelling alone is great, but it can be great with a stranger too, especially if your bandwidths match - and with Chang it was effortless. He is perhaps one of the most non-celebrity like celebrity and I think I would love to travel with him someday without the cameras too! Chang chalo Himachal :)

Suryagarh, not surprisingly, outdid itself in hospitality and in creation of some outstanding unique guest experiences. It's amazing how things keep getting better and better over there, and I can only imagine why hotel has become an example for others to follow.



And finally, my time at Suryagarh was also self reflective - especially during my long conversations with Chang while the cameras were rolling and sound was getting recorded. Trust me these were unplanned and questions were developed on the fly. I never had any time to rehearse, or for advance preparation so all that you hear me speak is straight from my heart. I know that not all travel bloggers have the same journey in life, but this is certainly my journey, it's a mix of good, bad and a little bit of ugly too.


India's Best Jobs!

This entire shoot was recorded by Discovery India (TV channel) as part of their series, India's Best Jobs. If you missed it on TV last weekend, the only way to watch it now is on JioTV.

Here's a fun behind-the-scenes video of the shoot with many candid moments. Some of these moments didn't even make it to the final episode, and that makes it even more memorable for me. When I was recording these sequences, it was pretty much for fun, but I am so glad now that I did it. Enjoy :)



Get inspired, but don't just try to follow my or anyone else's footsteps - the path for you will be unique for you, and only you can make it happen. But don't just wait. Go make it happen!

Comments

  1. It is interesting to note how the standards of innovation in hospitality in India, specially in Rajasthan hotels is gradually moving up several notches. Breakfast at Kaaba fort sounds really tempting :)

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  2. Have to check the show tonight and probably get my family to watch it too. Your experience seems awesome Siddhartha :)

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  4. That is a very rare opportunity. Travel Blogging is not really a mainstream profession. I hope this show does help spread the efforts of bloggers.

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  5. I'm happy to discover another mysterious place for me to visit in Rajasthan. I love that part of the world!

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  6. What a cool experience! That's great that you were the travel blogger they filmed, and it sounds like an interesting idea for a show! Will have to check it out. Sounds like you had a great adventure!

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  7. Seems like it is another beautiful part of the World to discover. It s great to see photos of you Sid!

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  8. Aah the joys if travelling... I cant even afford a place like this. The lead photograph is beautiful... As is the one after sunset. Did yiu find any chudails on the trail?
    Would love to catch the show.... Someday when i am more interested on television. Although discovery is a channel i have always loved.

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  9. What a cool experience to film a show with a celebrity! Aside from his status, Chang seems like a really cool guy to hang out. I can imagine it takes several lifetimes to discover all that India has to offer.

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  10. Super cool, I'll have to see if I can stream your episode of India's best jobs - nice one! Meiyang Chang sounds really down to earth and cool :) Suryagarh sounds like an incredible guest experience - with so much adventure to fill your days in the surrounds too. Definitely on my India itinerary when we plan a trip :)

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  12. Nice! Going on a trip with a top celebrity. What makes it even better is that he is a down to earth guy. The Suryagarh looks like an amazing hotel. I love the design and the colors. I would definitely want to visit Jaisalmer Fort as well. I would love to see the episode on Discovery. Have to figure out a way.

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  13. Congrats Sidd! This sounds incredibly cool. And Chang sounds like a fascinating guy, with his background and success. I got close to being on Nat Geo once but the show itself did not make the cut LOL. All the best with this.

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  14. What a lovely way to show Indians, the prospects of becoming a good travel blogger and importance of tourism in different regions. Have seen a couple of shows hosted by Chang, but this one I would definitely love to watch. It would have been a treat had the crew been following you in Himachal.

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  15. Beautifully written about Suryagarh and Jaiselmer. Welcome to Rajasthan (Trust you must have left the place by now). Suryagarh is a perfect 'Jharoka' exploring the beauty of Thar desert and culture of Rajasthan. I have read your blogs before especially on Goa and indeed your blog assisted in making a perfect itinerary during my visit there.

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