I can still recall being greeted by scorching heat and desolation at Jaisalmer Railway station, which gave me a clue about the fact that this city was not at all like the one that I lived in. The 22 hour journey in Ranikhet Express had left us all exhausted. This was my first college trip, outside Delhi.
Even after returning from the trip I remember me and my friends gushing over the fact that we had not been able to visit a few places due to shortage of time and that we should plan a second trip to Jaisalmer, some time sooner.
But due to other commitments and COVID-19, I haven’t had the chance to do so.
In this blog I want to reminiscence about a few things from the trip that I feel will remain imprinted on my mind forever.
The first thing that you notice about Jaisalmer, is sand. In sections of Jaisalmer, outside the city-like area, sand surrounds you on all sides.
Till date I feel awestruck when I think about the thin texture of the desert sand, in Jaisalmer. I remember how difficult it was for us to reach our accommodations, crossing that sandy pathway, because the sand really gets into your shoes. I remember all of us haggling our shoes to remove sand from them.
So an advice for women planning to travel to Jaisalmer, please pack boots, not the ones that have heels, just simple ankle-length or knee-length boots (trust me shoes are not an option on your trip to Jaisalmer).
I don’t know how boys managed to steer off this problem. If any of our male readers has ever been to Jaisalmer or any other desert, feel free to make some suggestions on this.
You can see the photograph of boots that one of my friends wore during the trip. She had brought these knee-length boots and never had to face the problems that we did.
I had always seen windmills in my science textbooks, when we read about wind being harnessed to produce electricity. However, seeing 6-7 windmills, standing in a straight line, on a raised platform with their wings rotating, will make you believe that science is a gift of nature to humanity, and not the conflicting forces we assume them to be.
These windmills were our only friends on the few bus trips that we took on those desolate Jaisalmer roads and clicking them on my mobile-cam felt like I was celebrating the power of the human mind, and human will.
The Sultan Camps is where we put up on our trip to Jaisalmer. So, this resort was chosen by one of our college professors. It had huge tents made up of water-proof cloth, rooms that could accommodate at least four people, clean washrooms and the staff constituted of helpful kids.
Besides this our package included two meals a day and some snacks given during the cultural show held in the evening. We were also allowed to dance on Bollywood numbers till 9 or 10 in the night.
There were a few things that I was disappointed by like the water supply and the fact that the water too had sand in it that could turn your scalp dry. Since the tents were made up of cloth we even feared discovering a wild animal in our rooms when we awoke in the morning.
I don’t have much idea about how much a stay in a camp in Jaisalmer costs. So, click on this link to know more about the Sultan Camps.
Tilon ki Pol Gadisar Lake
A man-made lake, Tilon ki Pol Gadisar lake, was built between the 12 and 13th century and has always been admired by the visitors for the peace that its serene view enthuses in them. The architectural marvels surrounding the lake have also receive a lot of attention from the tourists.
There is a temple near the lake that is dutifully visited by devotees who go there.
The arched gateway through which you enter the place is a perfect spot to get yourself some Instagram worthy pics. You can also get on boats to admire the scenic beauty of this place.
On the gateway of the lake, you will notice several shops selling eye-catching pieces of jewelry, handcrafted purses, Rajasthani caps, and a place where you can get yourself clicked in austere Rajasthani dresses at a minimal cost. You can also grab snacks and water from here.
I would recommend that you should come over to this section only after exploring the lake and its surrounding area because going through the options available in this market is going to take a lot of your time.
Riding a camel is close to the second bravest thing that I have done in my entire life.
So, on our first day in Jaisalmer, our professors informed us that we would be riding camels to get to the nearest sunset point. We were all really excited about it, until we discovered that riding a camel, in fact sitting on its back, can be really challenging.
Dabang was the name of the camel I got on with my friend, who wore boots on this trip. It was only the camel owner’s comforting words that kept us from falling into those huge lumps of sand.
One more piece of advice: In deserts, neither sitting on the front side nor the rear side, is going to make the camel ride any easier for you. With every mountain of sand that the camel will climb or even get down from, you’ll find your heart racing at a speed never experienced before.
Clothes, Jackets, Clutch, Handbags and Shopkeepers
I am really sorry about comparing Delhi and Jaisalmer, time and again, but I have to say that despite having some very popular and huge markets, Delhi will never offer you the print, the colors, and the quality of clothes that you would see in Jaisalmer.
What I want to convey is whether it be shirts, kurtas (for both men and women), cloth for suits, dupatta, I mean anything and everything, you just can’t resist their charm. I remember being mesmerized by a beautiful orange shirt with elephant-print on it hanging at a local shop, while entering Patwon ki Haveli, and when we were leaving that place, I had that shirt in my bag.
Though the clothes can be a bit expensive, so try and save money if you wish to fill your wardrobe with something new. Shopaholic! I know but it is worth it.
Nothing defeats the embroidered jackets of Jaisalmer. You can pair them with kurtas, suits, and t-shirts. I remember a girl slyly getting her hands on the embroidered jacket that my boot friend really liked. Trust me! We still rant about that incident and my boot friend is pissed about that jacket till date.
The amount of money that we girls expended on handbags and clutches is thousand times more than we did on anything else. Even the boys were getting handbags for their mothers, sisters and girlfriends.
In Jaisalmer, you have the option of buying handbags and clutches made of cloth or leather. The best part is that these quality handbags were really cheap and the shops have a huge variety.
Most of the shopkeepers were really nice people but a few of them tried to bully us into buying things that we didn’t like or believed that were being sold at a really high price. So, I think that being a little stern with the rude ones is the only way of dealing with these few shopkeepers.
Patwon ki Haveli
A cluster of five havelis, Patwon ki Haveli was not really a pleasant place for me. The rooms were too small, the passageways were too thin and I was scared that I would tumble down the stairs. It’s claustrophobic and the rooms as well as the passageways, even the staircase, can’t accommodate more than two-three people at a time.
However, tourists should visit this haveli because here you can see several artifacts, antique furniture, and ornamental goods. Moreover, where else would you get to see such good mirror work, and beautiful wall paintings.
The only thing that stood out for me on visit to this place was the city-view from the terrace of one of the havelis. It was soothing and serene.
Click on this link to know a little more about Patwon ki Haveli.
This is the bravest thing that I have done in my entire life.
Before our second day of the trip on the road was about to come to an end our professors informed us that we might have the chance to go for paragliding. They got off the bus to bargain with this person dressed in military clothes about how much they would charge us for paragliding.
The cost was settled initially at Rs.700 per person. So, the big question was who was going to be the first student to try it out first. I don’t know what I had on my mind that day but I volunteered to go first. I wasn’t scared or excited about it, just wanted to give it a try.
Further my friends cheered me on. In no time I was there in the sky. It was there that the thought struck me that if something went wrong, I could die at that very moment.
I realized that my entire life I have always been holding on to bad memories and experiences, when life had always tried to cheer me on. I was (and am) blessed with the company of so many charming and loving people, and also have so many beautiful memories.
When I finally touched the ground, something had changed in me. That day I decided to sidetrack the bad experiences of my life, while keeping the lessons learnt from them, and shift my focus towards the current ones.
This trip to Jaisalmer taught me that letting go of your worst memories is essential for living life. This is like flowing away the ashes of loved ones in Ganges, you are sad about letting them go but you also know that it’s the only way for you, and also those who are gone, to be at peace with our inner-selves.
That’s all from Jaisalmer. I hope you do enjoy reading it.
Do let us know about your travel related life-lessons in the comment box below.
Click here to listen to a popular song often hummed in several corners of Jaisalmer.
If you too have a traveler’s soul, do read our article on Jaipur.