Ever dreamt of swimming under the open skies with birds as companions? You can do this at the open-air swimming pool offered by this hotel. The brainchild of Sunil Rampuria, who is a classic case of ‘back to the roots’ returning from Kolkata in the 1990s to his ancestral land, the 41 arty rooms have been designed to appeal to the modern traveller. Artistic walls, exquisitely crafted furniture and a traditional Rajasthani structure, Gaj Kesri stands on the Jaipur-Jodhpur highway. Colours and specially handcrafted lamps are quite an eye-catching sight. Rampuria’s wife, Anju, helps run the place and the couple stay in the hotel, making it a home away from home. Brought up as pure vegetarians, the two lead a healthy lifestyle and also offer the same to the guests. There is an extensive vegetarian menu but we tried some of the specialities that they offer such as Parwal Kadi, Gatte ka Pulao and Cucumber dessert. Dahi Golgappa was my favourite starter. Wine and liquor flow quite freely in this hotel. And a drink by the pool in the evening is a pleasure that you can’t deny yourself. The Rampurias also organise a small live band every evening that brings the courtyard alive with peppy Bollywood music.
The rooms offer all the amenities such as an electric kettle for tea and coffee, water bottles, a mini bar with cold drinks, soaps and shower caps. A separate dressing room with a cupboard gives enough privacy to get ready in peace. On why vegetarian, the duo says that it’s the way they are used to. The couple is also very creative. While Sunil has a keen eye for colours (he has painted a wall in his ancestral home—Bhanwar Niwas in the old city of Bikaner), Anju is a jadau jewellery designer. In fact, Sunil made the first draft for the hotel’s structure himself. The hotel is located close to the famous Karni Mata temple, National Research Centre for Camel Breeding and the royal cenotaphs—Devi Kund. A day’s trip to Junagarh Fort and Lallgarh complex is a must. Try the Marwari thali at Bhanwar Niwas and do keep a lot of space for it’s a huge one. The Kanji Vada is my favourite in this huge thali. A walk around this old haveli turned into a boutique hotel reveals the uniqueness of each room. There is a special room where artisans carry on the famous usta work using traditional tools. But this is only done for the two hotels and for personal friends. You might like to focus on the lamps with the clouds, which are perhaps the trademark of the walls and ceilings of the Bikaner palaces. To know more about the royal bloodline, a trip to the Golden Jubilee Ganga Museum helps. You can bring back sherbets made of natural essence from Chunnilal Sherbet Wala and bhujia from Bikaji. The hotel can organise tours, guides and cars if told in time.
This article first appeared on https://lbb.in/delhi/chill-out-at-gaj-kesri-1d95ca/