Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Golden Jaisalmer


Our next stop was #Jaisalmer, which was a five hour drive from #Jodhpur. On our way, we crossed #Pokaran. Yes, the same place where nuclear tests were done.

I was very excited about the 'Desert City' having heard so much about the ‘living’ fort, its havelis and off course about the sand dunes. 

On our way to Jaisalmer from Jodhpur we saw a caravan of around 200 camels. It was a sight to watch. we were able to take few pictures of the same after tipping the camel owner generously.

I noticed that as we reach a new city, a new colour awaits us. We started with pink proceeded to blue in Jodhpur and now we reach the golden colour in Jaisalmer.

While planning the trip and researching on internet, I came to know that there are two deserts – #Sam and #Khuri. Sam is more popular and thus more crowded and touristy. So I opted for Khuri. Khuri is a village 40 kms from Jaisalmer.

As we were late and the sun was setting at a fast pace, we directly went to see the sand dunes at Khuri. On our drive to Khuri we could see so many windmills – Huge and gigantic.

Windmills near Jaisalmer
The car cannot go till the sand dunes. You have to take a ride either on a camel or take a camel cart to reach the dunes. As we had a one and a half year old kid with us, we decided to take a camel cart which can accommodate all of us. Charged we headed towards Khuri sand dunes which were 3 kms away. There were already a couple of tourists waiting for the sunset. We bypassed all of them and reached the far end of the desert where there was no other soul.

I got the actual being in the ’desert’ feeling when I was standing in the dunes. It was the golden sand which left no footprints and beautiful ripples on the dunes that must be making even God proud of its creation.

Sand dunes near Jaisalmer
Sand dunes

Then came the best part – the sunset. I have seen sunset from the beach, from tall buildings, from hill top and now it was time to see a sunset from the desert. 

Sunset at Sand Dunes
After the sunset we proceeded back to the camp from where we have rented the camel cart. 

We entered Jaisalmer at night and it was a sight to watch the gigantic fort all lit up with lights. It looked like a crown made of gold studded with diamonds.

Jaisalmer Entrance
At the entrance of Jaisalmer
We had already booked our stay at #Star Haveli a small charming hotel at the base of the fort with wonderful view of the fort from the room and the terrace.

Jaisalmer View
View from our Hotel's terrace
The view from the terrace was remarkable. We could see the fort from the fort and it was majestic. Jaisalmer is rightly called the #Golden City.

During our stay in Jaisalmer, we got a chance to witness a part of a Rajasthani Wedding. A Rajasthani wedding takes the experience to a whole new level.

A Rajasthani groom was getting his bride to his house (which was near our hotel) after the wedding ceremony been completed at the bride's place.

The groom's female family members were eagerly waiting for the newly married couple.

The rich vibrant colour of their ethnic lehengas, the beautifully crafted jewellery and accessories. their customs left us spell bound.

One strange custom that we noticed in Jaisalmer was the details of the wedding in the family is painted on the main entrance of their house.

We could see many houses freshly painted with the names of the couple and the date of the wedding.

Hanuman wall painting
My friend's daughter Tarushi :)
We started our day 6 with the pride of the city – #Jaisalmer Fort. It is also known as the ‘Sonar Kella’ taken from Satyajit Ray’s movie with the same name. Just like Jaipur and Jodhpur, the Jaisalmer Fort is also perched on top of a hill.

Local artists at Jaisalmer fort
Artists playing instruments at the entrance of the Fort
When we entered the fort, it was buzzing with activity. It is a living fort – it has temples, shops, internet cafĂ©, hotels, restaurants, houses inside. It is a fort where 5000 people approx still live, people still go everyday to the temple.

Jaisalmer Fort
Entrance of Jaisalmer Fort
We took a guide with us and he explained us the facts and history of the fort. One very important aspect of the fort that he explained is that the entire fort is made by special interlocking stones and no adhesive has been used to keep the structure together.

Jaisalmer Fort Museum
Museum inside the Fort
There are seven #Jain temples inside the fort. The Jain temples are made of golden sandstone has complex carvings and is stunning. The temple is opened till 1:00 pm and is therefore recommended to be seen first.

Jain Temple inside Jaisalmer Fort
Entrance of Jain Temple

Jain Temple carvings
Intricate carvings at Jain Temple

Jain Temple inside Jaisalmer Fort
Jain Temple inside the Fort

Jain Temple Jaisalmer
Roof of the Jain Temple
 After the Jain Temple, the guide took us to a point in the fort which houses a cannon. The point is at a height and gives a bird eye view of Jaisalmer City.

Jaisalmer City
Panoramic view of Jaisalmer City 
The fort is full of narrow lanes with shops selling varied items. One specialty being the volcano stone which the shopkeeper claimed to turn milk into delicious curd. 

The fort is a crazy fun place to explore and sightsee – almost every single pillar, wall, stairs, windows were lovingly sculptured.

Jaisalmer Fort - Houses
House inside the Fort
After the fort, we headed to the havelis which are walking distance from the fort.
Havelis in Jaisalmer
One of the Havelis
Jaisalmer is full of havelis and mansions but there are three havelis which are very famous – #Patwa ki Haveli, #Salim Singh ki Haveli and #Nathmal ji ki Haveli. These havelis are extravagant and lavish. They give you a glimpse of the royal era.

Patwa ki Haveli
Patwa Ki Haveli
Patwa ki Haveli is a cluster of five havelis. Adorned with beautiful glass work these havelis portray the luxurious lifestyle of the merchants who ones lived there. There is a turban gallery displaying different kind of turbans worn by different section of society.

Carvings at windows
Intricate Carving at Windows
After the lunch, we were casually strolling in the markets of Jaisalmer. The market is lively and colourful. One can shop for bandini dupatta, patchwork quilts, block print bed sheets, camel leather accessories…. the list is endless.

Jaisalmer Fort Shops
Shops inside the Fort
We shopped for wrap around skirts and kurtas having rajasthani prints.

As evening was setting in we headed to #Gadisagar Lake which is a man-made lake.  

Gadisagar Lake
Gadisagar Lake
We did not go for a boat ride which was available there. Instead we sat beside the lake on the ghats to relax and admired the structure made in the center of the lake. 

Gadisagar Lake
Gadisagar Lake
We then headed to #‘Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan’ which is a great place to pick up Khadi fabric. We ended up buying few more kurtas. While heading towards our hotel we came across #‘Rajasthali’, a handicraft emporium run by Rajasthan Government. We picked few leheriya sarees. One unique item bought from here was vintage bangles made from camel bones.

Post lot of shopping and sightseeing we headed to our hotel for dinner.

Of all the places I visited in Rajasthan, Jaisalmer is my favourite. Keeping myself warm in the shawl on the roof top restaurant of #Shahi Palace. On a cold evening, I looked at the fort with a smile. The fort is spectacular in every sense. The beauty of Jaisalmer cannot be put into words. It is an experience that has to be felt and cherished. 

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