Review Suryagarh's Jaisalmer: An experience of a lifetime

As I sit and write a review about my experience of visiting Suryagarh, I am mostly reminded, not by the hotel itself, but the varied experiences that it create for its guests. The whole idea is to expose them to Jaisalmer, its people and their way of life - from time immemorial. The following is an attempt to recreate it for my readers.

suryagarh desert remembers jaisalmer
Suryagarh welcoming you to a lifetime of experiences!

Jal. Water. Most of the greatest civilizations in the world have been around some of the major rivers and have thrived because of it. Jaisalmer is a little bit of an exception to this, this great civilization has not only survived but thrived not because of water, but inspite of its absence from the region. That speaks of the ingenuity of the dwellers of the region as well as their excellent know how about living in extreme conditions.

Jaisalmer is a much-developed now, yet water remains scarce here still. That made the story of water all the more interesting and intriguing to me. We chased its story from another era when there the locals built the irrigation systems to grow crops, which still survive and actively used. We chased it through the old silk route on which Jaisalmer was an important town and hosted travellers from across the world.

I was at Suryagarh on an invitation to attend the Monsoon festival last weekend, and spent about three days exploring the Thar Desert as well as local cuisines, music and cultures. Here are the five top experiences, which will take you through the journey of Jaisalmer. These experiences have been very aptly names – Desert Remembers!

1. Experience Ker Sangri – the Desert Food

Source: Quill and Quiver

Food is perhaps one of the most basic things that get impacted by rainfall in a region. Jaisalmer gets very little or no rainfall and the food here is adapted to meet that. Sangri is a local green vegetable which is seasonal in nature. However, it is dried and used throughout the year in delicacies like Sangri salad and sangria kebabs, among other things. A sumptuous dinner at Suryagarh would let you explore these and more. The food is royal, yet rustic - much like the overall experience of Suryagarh.

2. Experience the Irrigation System of Thar - Aagor, Khadeens and Dhora 

suryagarh desert remembers jaisalmer
A deer at a Khadeen

Lack of water made the Paliwals develop an ingenious irrigation system which ensured that large parts of Thar could be used for agriculture even with minimal rains. This was done using Agoor, Khadeen and Dhora. Learn here more about the Ancient Irrigation System of the area.

The best way to explore this would certainly be joining the Suryagarh team as they take you on this unforgettable journey through the desert, on cars, camels and on your foot. Not an experience to be missed!

3. Jaisalmer on the silk route – Serai, Wells and Cenotaphs

suryagarh desert remembers jaisalmer
Cenotaphs of Phoenician travellers 

suryagarh desert remembers jaisalmer
A sarai (resting place) for travellers 

Jaisalmer was also part of one of the limbs of the ancient Silk route. The traders from West (Sindh) would enter India via this fort city which also ensured continuos prosperity to the people here. Often traders would come and settle down here, and die in old age. Very interesting remains of these far flung races can be found at the multiple Cenotaphs spread over the wild desert plains. 

Also, seen with these are resting places and wells designed specifically for the travellers. As a traveller myself, this is something I greatly appreciate. Rajasthanis are universally knows as one of the most hospitable people in India and I believe this comes from their tradition of hosting people from all over the world. 

4. Life of the nomads – moving with water

suryagarh desert remembers jaisalmer
A natural water body...
A large population of Thar are actually nomads who area always on a move. They make a small settlement for a while and then move on a few months or a few years later. Their movements are, of course, not random but very calculated and based purely on survival. My theory is that they move with the water - the water guides them to new destinations and their belief in nature makes them trust it completely.

A constantly moving tribe is also less impacted by sudden droughts, as they often predict this and move on to a better place. However, their life is certainly not easy. Kids do not go to school, the girls always remain at homes and the interaction with the outside world is highly limited....

5. Where the Maharajas hunted…

suryagarh desert remembers jaisalmer
Where the kings hunted! Lovely landscape...
When we talk about Jasialmer, its impossible not to remember the royalty which ruled the region. And kings here, life most other places, were fond of a good game - in the wild. 

Lakes which were popular with local as well as migratory birds became their favourite destinations for this game. The hunting has stopped now, yet the lovely lake, its birds and the king's little palace remains. 

As you visit this lake with Suryagarh, you will be also treated with wine, cheese and fruits a little distance away on a hillock. I am not a fan of hunting, but didn't mind getting this super royal treatment :)


Other Suryagarh experiences:

Apart from the story of water, Desert Remembers also allows one to experience Thar Desert like never before. Some of these are quirky, while others are pure joy to the taste buds or the ears. The following five are some of my favourite.

1. The Temple Trail

Drive through the Thar desert and explore the ancient, yet hidden temples which the locals use even today. Enjoy not just the temples, but the journey as well as they are connected by some highly unusual roads and mud-tracks.

Read more details below: 

2. The Chudail (witch) Trail

The legend says that in xxxx, Paliwal Brahmins from 84 villages from this area moved out of the region in en masse, triggered by an incident that happened in this village. The night trail allows you to go out and explore the legend and experience (hopefully not) the presence of paranormal in Kuldhara village.

Read more: The Chudail Trail

3. Dinner in the desert with musicians

suryagarh desert remembers jaisalmer
A communal dinner in the middle of nowhere - highlight of the trip
This was perhaps the most romantic time spent in Jaisalmer. We drove about 20 km away from Suryagarh, most of which was completely off the course with no signboards or tracks to follow.

This was followed by a camel ride in dark. No pictures were possible as the sun was down and the camel rather active! After about 20-25 minutes of camel ride, we could see red and yellow lamps floating at a distance. This was our dinner destination.

The next three hours were spent listening to some amazing music, eating a communal dinner from one huge plate and enjoying some exquisite wine.

4. Breakfast with the peacocks at Khaba Fort

suryagarh desert remembers jaisalmer
Khaba fort from ruined Khaba village
Khaba fort is a fort on a hillock overlooking the deserted Khaba town. In the morning at sunrise, hundreds of peacocks rise out of nowhere to come and feed on the grains offered by a young boy from the village. 

The place is seeped in history and its a pleasure to explore it, whether its morning or evening.

Read more here – Breakfast with Peacocks

5. Interactions with the locals – Bheels, nomads and Muslim

suryagarh desert remembers jaisalmer
A local muslim feeling camera-shy :)
Another aspect of Desert Remembers that I particularly enjoyed was interactions with many local communities. I had a great time interacting with them as well as learning about their dreams and aspirations. It was heartbreaking to see most of the kids away from schools, development was yet to reach them.

Read more: Exploring the people of Thar (coming soon)


If you plan to visit Suryagarh, do check out their website - Suryagarh. The room rates start from about Rs 12,000 but changes according to the season of the year - winters are most expensive and summers are slightly more affordable.


  1. I loved their breakfast in the hotel as well. The hospitality, the setting and the food. My daughter had such a fun time playing with their gaggle of domestic animals.


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