One of the oldest breeds in the world, the Marwari horse pricks up its curly ears in the scrub desert heat of Mihir Garh, clip-clopping restlessly inside the hotel stables. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization report in 1995, this endangered species was on the verge of extinction until independent groups like Marwari Horse Society stepped in to promote and conserve the equine legacy, the executive board helmed by the likes of Thakur Sidharth Singh. The 14th jagirdar heir of Rohet thikana and Double Tazimi Sirayat of Jodhpur, Thakur Sidharth has been in love with sand dunes and horses since childhood, his grandfather commanding the Jodhpur Lancers way back in the 1930s.
Breeding the flighty, sensitive creatures that were once the pride of the Indian Cavalry, the Thakur Saheb is deeply passionate about horse riding and polo — even hosting the pop icon Madonna for a horseback safari at his Rohet Garh heritage property in 2008. Drawing inspiration from the refurbishment of this 400-year-old estate, the Thakur dreamed of raising a limestone structure gleaming lambently in the Thar wilderness, after a sunset pilgrimage to Mali Nathji ka Dhora. This sacred dune dedicated to the warrior god of Marwar, its clean wide strokes and swaying shrubbery filled the Thakur and his wife, Thakurani Rashmi Singh, with an irrevocable urge to share the rugged beauty of the desert with other adventurers.
Running their boutique label House of Rohet with their scion Avijit Singh, the Thakur and Thakurani embrace cultural revivalism through rural architecture and handcrafted decor elements like Lippan art lining the fireplaces of Mihir Garh. Looming like a mirage atop a six-metre sand dune, the majestic sun fort seems to have taken shape from the bush country, abstracting the fluidity of undulating paddocks and the flanks of horses into its design vocabulary. The cow dung and clay used in the modest homes of the Bishnoi community from neighbouring villages are replicated in the rounded finishes and imposing façade of the sandcastle.
Punctuated by the bird calls of the peacocks, temple bells and goats bleating outside the walls of this behemoth, your morning at Mihir Garh could begin with a guided tour of surrounding Khandi farmlands. If you are not an early riser, perhaps a dip in your own mosaic plunge pool would set the tone just right. You won’t happen to run into many people even if you were to head down to the infinity edge pool as the property doesn’t accommodate more than 20 clients at a time, keeping the service more personalised and your privacy intact.
While sauntering through the corridors, keep an eye out for the frescoes and murals bedaubed with colours sourced from local minerals. You could take a luncheon on the bougainvillaea-framed terrace or retreat into a cloistered alcove to read and pass the hottest hours of the day. If you happen to find your way back to your room, perhaps you will be able to appreciate the intricate beauty of the bejewelled cushions and embroidered bedcovers with a fresh pair of eyes. The Thakurani took great care to patronise the western Rajasthani craftsmanship from Jodhpur to Pali, adorning each of the nine 1700 sq. ft suites with mirror-work tapestries and old brass lamps, marrying the aesthetics of understated village havelis with the vibrancy of Jodhpuri royalty.
Under the spell of twilight, a camel back palanquin can take you to a shikar dinner illuminated with flaming braziers, to the accompaniment of Kalbeliya singers rewarding you with an evening you are unlikely to forget.
Located 55 kilometres from the hustle and bustle of Jodhpur, Mihir Garh is a charismatic albeit exclusive getaway deeply intertwined with the artistic lineage of surrounding communities. With grandmother’s recipes trickling down into the dining room menu, delicacies like the mango gazpacho soup or the safed aloo are complemented by the eclectic range of cocktails at the bar, followed by a late night snack from the barbecue terrace.
The in-house spa, temple and library are crevices you can escape to or simply lounge around on the sun beds at the deck by the pool. There is a panoply of intimate experiences to be had, fountains and charming nooks peppering the fort with a languid sophistication, Marwari hospitality keeping you befuddled throughout your staycation.
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