After my formal introduction to the legendary hospitality of Rajasthan in the monsoon of 2015, i’ve been wanting to revisit the rangeelo state for a while – and i was lucky that 2017 started with a trip back there!
The typical golden triangle doesn’t include Bikaner, and i couldn’t care. The less touristy the better. With that in mind, and the only knowledge that Bikaner = yummy salted snacks, i accepted the gracious invite from Narendra Bhawan’s visit their soon-to-be-launched eclectic residence, built over and around the erstwhile residence of the last reigning king of Bikaner, Narendra Singh Ji.
Although the nearest airport is Jodhpur, we landed in Jaipur in the wee hours of the morning to set off on the next leg of the journey towards Bikaner – a cool 5 hour drive.
The drive was surprisingly fantastic – with excellent roads, roadside dhabas, camels and a stark landscape dotted with oasis like regions all the way. It feels almost unreal to believe that you’re in the Thar region, en route a land once known as “Jangladesh“!
Formerly the capital of the princely state of Bikaner, the city was established by Rao Bika in 1488. Though it was in the Thar Desert, Bikaner was considered an oasis on the trade route between Central Asia and the Gujarat coast as it had adequate spring water.
A Signature Welcome
Knowing my hosts pretty well, i was definitely expecting a fabulous welcome – a signature trait i have come to expect of the folks behind Narendra Bhawan and Suryagarh. They definitely lived up to it… we were received in a living room setting, as opposed to a typical ‘lobby’ of a hotel, with refreshing wet wipes, Bikaneri namkeen snacks and a cooler.
Bang in the middle of Bikaner, Narendra Bhawan is located amidst hisorical lanes, buildings and palaces that feel like a portal to a bygone era – a regal, mystical one.
What i wasn’t expecting was a vertical structure taller than the neck can stretch, built on top of the original residence / haveli of Narendra Singh Ji. The quirky journey begins at the patio itself – called the ‘gaushala‘ – because of course, it’s what it once used to be!
“This feels like Great Gatsby meets Salvador Dali!”
My first impression of this eclectic place made me quip “this feels like Great Gatsby meets Salvador Dali!”
The Guest Rooms
Continuing the regal yet quirky aesthetic, the room decor and personalized touch brought an instant smile to my tired and sleepy face!
While maintaining a warm ambiance with dashes of purple, vermilion and peacock green as the signature colours, Narendra Bhawan even has it’s own signature scent – oude.
This subtle woody and musky scent emanates from almost everywhere across the property. For an olfactory geek, this was another reason to be delighted 🙂
To be continued…
What to expect – The Merchant Trail, Royal Tour, Local Secrets & more!
Leading an experimental life as a digital nomad, I started traveling in 2007 while choosing to shuttle between Goa and Mumbai as 'home'. An epic life-changing trip to South America an year later gave birth to this blog, Exotic Gringo.