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Jaisalmer puppets

Jaisalmer puppets

Any visit to Jaisalmer is not complete without allowing yourself to get lost in the cobbled streets of the main fort or the narrow pre-independence ‘gallis’ in the main bazaar. Taking a left turn from the gate entrance gives you the first sight of the bazaar and the ‘Governemnt authorized‘ Bhang (processed Marijuana diluted and served with milk or juice) shop.

The dingy German Bakery opposite to it is not a very good option for a stop. A right turn from there takes us in to the heart of the local business community. The shops can range from barbers to spices to traditional shoes. The thing which really fascinates the outsider are the elaborate wall paintings and colours. The people of the Golden city are famous for painting walls for weddings, holidays or just good crops. The horde of advertisements just blend in to the religious symbols all over the city walls.

Wall writing Jaisalmer

All in all, not a very good planned city; but it’s this chaos which gives the beautiful rhythm to the place. For some moments there you tend to forget that outside these walls there’s the endless desert waiting for you.

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And Golden it is, with the whole city carved out of the same golden sandstone. On approach it appears to be a giant golden sand castle rising in the middle of a barren desert. The narrow streets of the fort, still inhabited, with elaborate decorated houses, Jain temples, magnificent gateways and a beautiful palace all carved out of the same golden sandstone. It’s like something out of a dream.

A bustling tourist city on the western edge of the desert, it can be reached through the now famous Palace On Wheels or by road via Bikaner. This was my second visit to this city and it felt as if time had stood still for 3 years. The same shops, the same banners and the same people in those shops. The night road trip via Bikaner is a memorable one with the coolness of desert night keeping you company. A 15 hours drive (including stops) the Delhi – Jaisalmer Road can be divided into the following sections:

  • Delhi – Loharu (different routes to do this depending on where you live in Delhi/NCR) 160-170 KM
  • Loharu – Fatehpur (100 KM)
  • Fatehpur – Bikaner (170 KM)
  • Bikaner – Jaisalmer (328 KM)

You can stop for dinner at Bikaner with some excellent options in and around the city. You get the first glimpse of desert right after Bikaner with the sand dunes on both sides of the road. If you have some time in your hands, BIkaner itself is brilliant and rapidly developing city to explore. The touchdown at Jaisalmer the next morning is very refreshing with motels open 24*7. But it’s better to book your own in advance. Breakfast can comprise of kachori-tea-poha if you want it Rajasthani style or the usual roadside paranthas.

With the dozens of temples and fort that Jaisalmer has to promise for sightseeing, its better to start early in the morning. You wouldn’t want to miss the sunset in the dunes now, would you?

My Flickr.

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