After two endearing days in the capital city, we traveled by road to our next destination: Jaisalmer. The “golden city” is set in close propinquity to Pakistan and the Thar desert.
We were to camp at the Royal Desert View Resort right in the Sam Desert, Jaisalmer for the day. We roamed around the desert on our own for a while, soaking in the vastness, the contradicting heat of the afternoon and the coolness of the winds. We enjoyed a number of traditional performances by local artists working with the resort at night and after dinner and a dance party (you should get used to those, there are some more coming up throughout the trip), we returned to our tents. The temperature of this place at night is freezing (4°C) but the tents were sufficiently cozy (though the water was not!). The next day consisted of camel safaris in the desert. The place is sufficiently clean (except for alcohol bottles the tourists inconsiderately leave behind) and apparently, all camels around this desert are called Raju, Bablu, Salman and Michael (seriously). The sunset of this place is sumptuous.
What’s different about this place is that the fort of this city (since every important city of Rajasthan seems to have a couple of them) is not just a mere tourist spot. Sonar Kella continues to house a number of hotels, shops and homes; all run by the coevals of ancient families since centuries. The place is a fort, market, residential area all in one.
The German Bakery here is a tiny little shop among hundreds of others but the Honey-nut cake and macaroon cookies they sell there are ones in million! They’re freshly baked and scrumptious. Also this place has a pretty good collection of Rajasthani dresses, jewelry, bags, bedspreads, paintings’ and antiques’ shops if you like shopping. I know many of you might not, but it’s worth the experience; walking through such rich culture. The fort looks beautiful when lit up at night.
Patwon ki Haweli, ten minute walk away from Sonar Kella, though a small place, sits proudly showing off its intricate hand-carved walls. You just can’t ignore the fragility of its beauty. Out in the courtyard of this haveli sits Shatar Khan. He caught our attention with his affable nature and then struck us ( seriously, STRUCK US.) soul deep with his melodious voice. You just can’t miss listening to Kesariya Balam when in Rajasthan. His voice, in all its beauty rose and fell and wreaked havoc with our minds while soothing us to a point of making us teary eyed. And I don’t think anyone other than people who really do belong to that culture can give rise to the exact kind of aura Kesariya Balam does.
Remember to try the Dal Pakwan. We bought one from a local street stall and couldn’t get enough of it. One after the other, we had around six of them (ahem) and. We. Couldn’t. Get. Enough!
After Lunch at the Heritage Inn (where we were to spend the night), we left for the famous Gadisar Lake. This place was conceived by Maharaja Gadsi Singh to supply water to the arid city of Jaisalmer. Though it doesn’t have to fulfill the requirement of water supply anymore, it is a popular tourist spot owing to the Satyanarayan temple and other sandstone constructions right in the middle of the lake.
Next, we visited the Jaisalmer War museum located on the Jodhpur Highway (which being our next spot, was a convenient option). It was built by the Indian army in order to commemorate fellow brave soldiers and other laudable contributions made. The entry is free to anyone who wishes to visit. All I can say is this is one of those places that remind us why we should be proud of being Indian, no matter what the short-comings or what criticisms have to be made.
And that people, was Jaisalmer for you. Two more cities to go; so stay tuned! All pictures have been clicked by a Sony Xperia XZ and Siddhant Yadgire’s Sony Alpha 58. Check him out on Instagram here.