After touring the Junagarh fort and learning miniature painting in Bikaner, the group was set to head towards the golden city, Jaisalmer. On our way, we took a halt at Pokhran for lunch. Rajasthan continuing the effortless beauty of itself, the Pokhran fort was captivating. A part of the fort is turned into a restaurant and museum to showcase the history of Pokhran. In the remaining part resides the royal family and looks over the restaurant.
Read about places to visitand offbeat experiences in Bikaner here.
We then reached our hotel, which is also a palace turned into a luxurious hotel now. The beauty of our hotel was not less than the Havelis we heeded in Bikaner. Our representative with a welcome drink welcomed us and walked us through the next day schedule.
7 THINGS IN AND AROUND JAISALMER
1. VYAS CHHATRI
The beauty of the city is best seen when the rays of the setting sun fall on the city making it shine in golden honey. We spent our evening beholding the sun to set behind the city at Vyas Chhatri. The Vyas Chhatri is full of beautiful memorials and is a cremation ground for Brahmins. It is believed that the place is dedicated to Sage Vyas, who wrote the epic Mahabharata poem. The pillars and domes of cenotaphs here are full of delicate and intricate carvings.
2. DESERT CULTURE CENTER AND MUSEUM
After the scenic sunset, we went to the iconic puppet show at Desert Culture Center and Museum. The local historian and a school teacher in 1997 started the museum to protect the art and culture of Jaisalmer city. Mr N.K.Sharma’s museum manifests various art, craft, and culture. The museum exhibits medieval coins, ethnic Rajasthani jewellery, weapons, traditional Rajasthani clothes, musical instruments, sculptures collected from various regions of Rajasthan, and much more. Along with these things, he also wanted to preserve the puppet show, which was an ancient source of income for these people.
While the puppet show was going on Imam Bhai (the one who was anchoring the show and playing Kartal) told that during the old days, these people would travel from one village to another, arranging shows and narrating the stories through these puppets. Imam, with his associates who were singing and, he playing a traditional musical instrument, Kartal enhanced the show.
3. BADA BAGH
Our next morning was indulged in the beauty of Bada Bagh whose literal meaning is a big garden, approximately 6 kilometres from the city. The bada bagh possesses the memorials of the kings of the Jaisalmer. These chhatris are remarkable illustrations of Rajasthani architecture. Right from the pillars, ceiling till the dome, the cenotaphs are carved elegantly. The place turns more scenic during sunrise and sunset which we call as golden hour. And thus we can find the place captured in a lot of movies.
4. PATWON KI HAVELI
Then next, we met our guide, Mr Deepak Singh, who guided us through the city with all the historic tales. We started with an important and attractive piece of architecture, Patwon ki Haveli, which is a cluster of five Havelis. The haveli was built in 1805 by Guman Chand Patwa, and it took almost 55 years to complete the first haveli. Patwon haveli is the first and the largest haveli in the Jaisalmer. As we entered, we were in a room full of creative mirrors with beautiful jharokhas.
The museum inside depicts the lifestyle of people in the old days, one room showcases the kitchen, while the courtyard served as the centre for various ceremonies and rituals. One room is full of varieties of lockers used, and another is full of paintings and artefacts. The exquisite carvings nearly looked unreal to all of us. From atop the haveli, one gets a wonderful view of the complete city and the Jaisalmer Fort, which was next on our map.
5. JAISALMER FORT
The Jaisalmer Fort is one of the few living forts in Rajasthan, with nearly one-fourth population residing inside the fort. The massive fort built in 1156 with the yellow sandstone, shines like a golden yellow with sun rays falling on it and turns to honey-gold as the sunsets. From the massive door, we entered and a narrow road led us to the Dussehra Chowk. The fort is the complete world in itself, you name it and the fort has it. One side took us to the cannon, from where we got the impressive view of the city. And another side took us to the Jain temple, which is very unusual to find in a fort. This delicate white marble and sandstone architecture was built to get protected by the Mughals. With lots of cafes, shops, hotels, and numerous vendors the place appears as a plethora of colors.
6. SAM SAND DUNES
After a soulful Rajasthani lunch, which included Ker Sangri and Lal Maas, we proceeded towards Sam Sand Dunes. The place was 44.5 km away, and as I headed closer, I longed for the view of dunes with imaginative images in my mind. That evening we went for the jeep safari in the dunes, which was not less than a roller coaster ride for me. We sat there, relishing the sun hide behind the dunes, while some of us had fun rolling down the dunes. And then returned to our resort for an elegant traditional dance performance arranged for us which added as another highlight of the day.
I had never envisaged that the heated desert turns chilly at the night, with the cold wind whistling around. The next day started quite early as we had our camel ride planned. Few of us rode the camel while others rode the camel cart and went to dunes to see the sun rays falling on the sand and turning it shiny golden yellow. We then said adios to our Jaisalmer amigos and started our journey back.
On our way, we also explored the abandoned village, Kuldhara, which is also stated as haunted. According to an ancient tale, the village was the residence of Paliwal Brahmin families. Once Jaisalmer’s state minister Salim Singh visited the village and fell in love with a brahmin girl and expressed his desire to marry her. But when villagers refused due to caste difference, Salim Singh vowed to marry that girl the next day by hook or crook. Frightened villagers couldn’t think of any solution, so they left the village overnight leaving all their possessions behind and cursed the land saying no one can survive here. Nobody could find them nor could figure out where they all went. Now the village has some broken houses and a temple left. Since the place is possessed it is guarded at night, and no one is allowed to enter after the sunset.
FOOD IN JAISALMER
Jaisalmer city has a small area which can be covered walking in a day. Food is exceptional here and the cafes are additional enchantments presenting the outstanding sunsets and the complete view of the city.
1. Cafe Kaku is famous amongst the tourists for the food and the ambience it provides. You can sit for hours chilling with your friends, family or even by yourself and enjoy the view of the fort and the city. Do not hesitate to order cold coffee!
2. Just outside the gate of Mandir Palace, is a golgappe wale bhaiya serving 5 unique flavours, cumin, garlic, mint, hajma, and the regular one. It’s a small thela (cart), invariably crowded.
3. If you are looking for a restaurant The Lal Grah Restaurant or Junction Palace is your best bet. Both of providing with the best of Rajasthani local food. The Interior of Junction Palace is simple, whereas Lal Grah has a royal Rajasthani touch.
Jaisalmer tops my list of favourite places in India. The copiousness of charm and history is beyond expressing in words or seizing in cameras. And above all is the love of locals they confer by welcoming you with their open arms every time!
Also read about 4 best places to spend in 24 hours in Jodhpur here.