2023 was my first Holi celebration at Suryagarh. Personally, I’m not a fan of the way the festival is celebrated by most people. Because of a few experiences of the festival as a young adult, I’ve spent Holi, locked inside my apartment, for most of my life. But then, Holi at Narendra Bhawan happened a few years ago and life was not the same! I LOVED it. During my first Holi as an employee of the MRS Group ( which owns Suryagarh & Narendra Bhawan ), I was at Narendra Bhawan. But this time around, as luck would have it, I got to celebrate and play Holi at Suryagarh for the first time.
The way both the hotels celebrate Holi is by organizing a Sundowner on the evening before Holi and then a colour-filled celebration on the day of Holi. I’ve experienced the stunning Darbari Sundowners at Bikaner but this was my first time at the Kuldhara Sundowner at Jaisalmer and I did not know what to expect. I’m aware that the experiences curated by Suryagarh are spectacular but the Holi Sundowner was not something I had seen previously.
The tents and the Algoza player ( double flute ) and the Saxophonist and the food and the cocktails were all amazing. The Oasis was stunning, with random horses and sheep grazing, the last of the green grass around the Oasis and the general ambience. What was unexpected and probably a first, was the sky! There was a rainstorm brewing in the background from three directions. At first it was a greyish blue, which soon turned into darker grey. There were lightning flashes in the distance in the three separate directions and the weather got considerably cooler.
I was with some of my favourite people. Laurent. Rituja. Nakul. They are some of the nicest, most generous and smart people that I have ever met in my life. And that I get to spend time working alongside them, is a privilege. We took selfies, we chatted with guests, we enjoyed the delicious food and the amazing cocktails that Himanshu was concocting behind the bar, we enjoyed the music and we took in the breathtaking view the entire evening.
The sunset was absolutely spectacular. I could not get enough of the sky and the trees AND the horses as the evening continued. Eventually, the winds picked up and there was desert sand blowing in the wind and the Saxophonist continued to play and it was MAGICAL. Finally, we packed up and started to drive back to the hotel and by the time we got to the hotel, it started to rain!
It has NEVER rained in March, on Holi, in Jaisalmer – at least not at the hotel as far as I have surmised, after asking some of the veterans who have been with the hotel since its inception. It was something else. An evening, that I am not going to forget anytime soon.
The last image above is a combination of 31 separate plates. Photographed on the Nikon D810 with the 85mm F1.4 lens. A stitched panorama. Post-production was done in Adobe Lightroom, as always.
The header / featured image, right at the top of this page, is a similar image, a combination of 47 separate plates.
This blog post’s images are a mix of having been photographed on the Google Pixel 7 Pro and the Nikon D810 with the 85mm F1.4 lens. All images have been edited in Lightroom, whether the one on the smartphone or my laptop.
Nature put on quite the show and I am glad I carried both my cameras with me!