Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Golden City...

The golden sands, the sandstone lined walls and homes, the glistening sun bouncing off the lake, the glowing fort walls as the night sets in... Jaisalmer does live up to its name "The Golden City"! The rustic charm of Jaisalmer left us wanting more of it! Considering it is in the middle of the desert, there is a lovely breeze greeting you through the day that almost dissipates the heat (almost but not quite). The evenings and early mornings are actually very cool and our sojourns at these times (we reserved the mid afternoon for languishing in our air conditioned rooms) were absolutely wonderful. The people are so warm and hospitable.. as you can probably gather, I fell in love with this quaint little place!

We stayed at this charming hotel called "Shahi Palace" that has a great view of the fort from its very inviting roof garden! Owned by 5 siblings/cousins, it feels so much like home! Their warm hospitality and yummy home cooked meals, helped us to fall in love with Jaislamer.. and when we had to leave, it was with the resolve that we would come back and stay longer! They were really sweet, on the first night as we hung around on the roof top, one of the brothers kept us company, relegating tales and imitating accents from around the world. Another, cooked up some desert mushrooms (he had picked just that day) and gave it to us for a taste. It was almost like the way your mom/ grandmom tells you.. taste this,this is so yum! If you do go to Jaisalmer, this is a good place to stay!

While the fort and the numerous havelis with their intricate craftsmanship holds a unique charm that only those ancient relics can hold! And the glistening lake where we pedaled a boat was simply a wonderful find in the desert, the highlight of our visit was the desert safari! But before we go down that lane, I must stop to talk about the lake. We were very excited about the prospect of getting on the lake.. and with child like delight naively looked forward to exercising our legs! However as we endeavored to get some pictures of birds flocked on the banks we hit something and could not move!

We were a good 20 feet from the banks, and so we were really bewildered! Trying not to panic we called out to a guy rowing a oat nearby with a dozen passengers! He quickly reached us and took off his footwear, rolled up his sleeves and I had visions of him diving under the boat and laboriously extricating us from whatever tangle we had got ourselves in! Instead the guy got off the boat into ankle deep water and pushed our boat off from where we had struck land! As you can imagine, all of us, including the passengers of the other boat had a good laugh!!

The next day saw us pottering about in the wee hours of the morning as we prepared for a early start to the deep deserts! We drove off to witness the sunrise among the sand dunes.. but we fell short by a few minutes.. so had to watch the sunrise well before our rides arrived.. still it was an awesome sight!! And then we saw them at a distance.. our majestic rides... as we straddled the camels and rode off into the dawn a thrill went down my spine! We had a breakfast of toast and tea in the wilderness... sitting on a colorful mat.. on the glistening dunes, camels chewing off the desert plants on one side! It was absolutely exhilarating! And at this time of the day it was nice and cool! We were joined by a group of European tourists who had spent the night under the stars in the middle of the desert! Wish I could have done that!! Except I would have not had a wink of sleep... the images of dung beetles (they feast on the camel dung.. hence the name) a la matrix style kept interrupting the pleasant images of solitude on the Desert!

After a trek on the sand dunes.. did you know that Jaisalmer was once a sea? They have fossil stones of sea creatures! And here is what we found in the middle of the arid desert .. yes shells! Anyway after a trek on the dunes, we hopped on our rides to head back to the village! The nice camel caretaker, invited us to see his home and village. We bid goodbye to our fellow tourists and headed back (oh yes this was a special privilege he said.. because we were the only Indians he had seen in months... that was surprising!). Although our camel "Tola" insisted on brushing against every shrub and thorn bush along the way.. not to mention backs of other camels, this was an experience we will carry with us for the rest of our lives! Cheeky was sad to leave his friend "Tola" behind.. and promised to come back soon with Daddy!

We left Tola in good company though. The gaily dressed village folks in their cool sandstone homes, celebrate everyday with music and dance! They take good care of the camels. The village children skip school and hang around the village. A few of them followed us around and even took some pictures with us! As we left we handed out our stash of Candy and Cookies.. they only wanted more!! Growing up in a land surrounded for miles by arid desert must be hard! I was told the kids don't even get to see candy and cookies for months! The land had not seen rain in 3 years and even food was hard to come by! So luxuries were unheard of! Their only snack is husk from the grains.. We wished we had known.. we could have taken more goodies for the cheerful, smiling little friends we made!

After taking a stroll in the fort, seeing the palaces and the city views.. not to mention shopping for souvenirs it was time to leave! And we hoped we had planned to stay longer! I am sure the pictures speak for themselves and my ramblings in this post are superfluous! Jaisalmer with its rustic appeal is a must see.. As we left I promised myself, I will be back to stay for a week or two and experience the rustic charm yet again! But for now we were off to the Pink City!

11 comments:

GentleLavender said...

It is such an informative and well written article. I loved the credit that you gave to Shahi Palace and I am sure that when I visit Jaisalmer, I will query you for its number and details so that I can stay there.

Keep writing. The photos were fantastic too.

Pavi!!!! said...

The pics are great...n god, i didn't know jaisalmer was so adventurous n beautiful!
The husband must be so green with envy ...

seems like ur hvg an amazing trip!continue having a blast.

Anonymous said...

You are a adventurous girl ...yaar..I envy you. Put kala tikka...

No water for three yrs...good you gave them at least some goodies.
Any plans to come to Hyderabad? would love to see cheeky
Aryan's mom

Neera said...

thanks for the reco Preethi. Jaisalmer does sound very very visitable. I'll forward this to my husband - looks like Sep-Oct ard Dussehra holidays shd also be gud. Did u have reservation in Shahi Palace in advance or u just stopped by there and booked a room and for how much?

Mama - Mia said...

:)

i am sending this to M! then he will know why i keep begging to see Rajasthan before i get my virgin passport stamped with some phoren land trip!

have always been fascinated by that place! some day soon i hope!

loved the post! :)

cheers!

abha

rayshma said...

LOVE this piece!

did you do a 'mornii baaga mea dole" number there...?

2 B's mommy said...

You are in India ! I have a lot of reading to do don't I ?!

What lovely write up about Jaisalmer. You know I am planning to do the Delhi-Rajasthan tourist thing on my trip next year and this is going to be so helpful. I am gonna bookmark this post.

Have a great time and keep writing !

The Nomad said...

Jaiselmer and rajasthanis are great arent they...

I loved Jodhpur even more! Less tourists even in jan ( as its not the standard golden traoingle) and for the rustic/autentic rajashthani expereince a trip with Gemar Singh (www.hacra.org) to get areal taste of rajashthani village life..

Sandhya said...

Thank you! I always wanted to visit Jaisalmer, maybe next time!
Last time we did make it to Jaipur though.
btw how is the weather there?

Saikat said...

Thanks for the informative post... Wanted to know the room rates... And also if it is suitable for old people... Am planning a trip for my parents...

Preethi said...

Saikat - My dad went with us, so you could consider it for your parents. However the highlight is the Camel safari and that could be a little tiring.. its like riding a horse for long, leaves your thighs a little tired.. so you might want to check with them on that.. my aunt (the Nomad) says that during peak season, its better to do the deserts at Jodhpur.. they are less crowded too...