Still, in the midst of such luxury, there is something elemental and primeval about it all.
Siddharth Singh also owns Rohet Garh itself, the palace where Bruce Chatwin spent six months writing The Songlines in 1985 before the estate was turned into a hotel. Siddharth Singh and his wife, Rashmi, have just opened another resort, a fantasy fortress made of mud on a high sand dune at the desert’s edge from where, as far as the eye can see, there is no human or animal life, just scrubland and then desert stretching into the horizon.
The sand dune is the highest point in a flat landscape, so it offers spectacular views.
At night, there is nothing but silence, moonlight, infinity, stars and a soft breeze. This is how the maharajas lived, in considerable splendour, with the entire court in attendance, when they travelled across the desert.
Reclining by the pool on the terrace, I watch the sun set over the wilderness.
In 2007, Singh, who arranged Elizabeth Hurley’s wedding at Umaid Bhawan Palace, the smartest hotel in Jodphur, bought a 150-year-old haveli lying in ruins at the foot of Mehrangarh Fort, restored it, and added rooms, restaurants and a pool using local materials that mesh perfectly with the original structures.
It’s a striking juxtaposition of international chic with antiquity.
The other great appeal of the densely congested walled city is that, after a 10-minute drive, you can be in the open, semi-arid scrubland outside the urban sprawl. Often referred to as “the world’s first environmentalists” owing to their love of wild animals and protection of the environment, the Bishnois are now widely known.
Arjun Ram Bishnoi and his splendidly bejewelled wife, Devi (Bishnoi women wear chunky tribal jewellery even when working in the fields), show me a blackbuck antelope grazing near their hut.
I also pass the crumbling old havelis (mansions), with their great entrance gates and carved balconies, offering a glimpse of how Jodhpur’s nobility once lived in the shadow of Mehrangarh Fort , home to the city’s maharajas since the 15th century. There is plenty to see inside – including gilt palanquins and bejewelled daggers – but it is the view of the city spread out below that is sublime.