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Jaisalmer was our last city in the Rajastan state and the one that really stood out from all the rest. Known as the ‘Golden City’ like Jaipur and Jodhpur which we visited before, this city too has a famous fort.
Unlike the others though this fort is a ‘working fort’ meaning that there are people living and working within the walls. As we explored the fort we walked down alleyways and past regular homes and businesses.
It’s strange to be in a still functioning fort, filled with modern amenities but still maintaining that ancient exterior.
The city of Jaisalmer itself is very interesting to walk through. It doesn’t feel quite as loud or busy as some of the other cities in India, and really has more of a laid back feel.
The carved sandstone which is evident everywhere around the city truly is remarkable. The level of detail and the intricacies in the stone are really unbelievable.
It almost looks like the building facades are carved out of wood instead of stone. I can’t even imagine the hard word that goes into such a craft.
The highlight of our visit to Jaisalmer though was our desert safari tour. Most tours transport you to the desert by Jeep, and then you ride through the desert on camelback, waiting for the sun to set. We weren’t interested in the tour, but only by Jeep.
The desert walking we could do on foot; no need to get the camels involved.
Om picked us up and whisked us away, filling the time by asking us lots of questions (one of which involved inquiring if we were ‘mixed vegetables’ – meaning coming from different heritages) and sharing lots of information about India.
I took this as a perfect opportunity to bombard him with cultural questions.
Om took us to a private spot in the desert; a piece of land that his family owns and so we were the only people there, not another tourist in site.
As I was admiring the beauty and peacefulness of the desert, Dave seemed to be more interested in the beetles he found withering about in the sand.
I mean sure they’re interested looking and remind me of the ones in the Mummy movie, but I was all about the desert itself.
Being completely alone in the desert is a magical experience.
Looking all around you and seeing only sand in every direction, but sand with a different pattern everywhere is fascinating.
Right around sunset the light starts to change drastically and I could just sit there and stare off into the distance, the sand, and see how the light start to hit it differently.
Dave was happy to just plop down and sit in one spot, but I wanted to explore. I wanted to climb to a higher sand dune and see the area from a different perspective.
Eventually I got my way, and we found a perfect sunset viewing spot.
On the way back we spotted by Om’s office and he treated us to a cup of masala chai while we chatted about his business plans. A real nice guy that Om, with big dreams and very ambitious. He’s hoping to open up a yoga retreat on his spot of land in the desert. It would be the first of its kind in Jaisalmer and I really hope it works out for him.
We had a really nice time in Jaisalmer, seeing the city, fort and enjoying a desert sunset.
Another great moment to top off our visit was when a wandering cow walked up the steps to our hotel and blocked the door.
How do the Indians deal with this? They get the hotel manager to get the cow out of the way by pushing it around with a few pillows.