“Padharo mhare des”; as welcoming as its folk music is the sand in the winds of the Thar Desert, carrying you buoyantly like the sand particles onto a dune, then to another, and then to an enchanting lost era underneath its clear skies. ‘Soneri Dharti’ or the golden land will pull you towards a silent self – longing for the warmth of a romantic affair or just some lustful solitude.
Not all is lost in the endless horizons of this cold sand planet, for its forts center the mankind into a history so full of stories, that you will find yourself in the shoes of the kings and the queens, before the sand empties itself into the hour glass. Here are some ways to slip into Jaisalmer’s nonchalant beauty, so deeply, that you will need the bitter reminder of your alternate life to come back to the surface, to reality.
Camp by the sea of dunes.
Jaisalmer allows you to explore two of its desert areas – Khuri and Manwar, with Manwar being more traditional and isolated. You can spend the day sand surfing with the camels and spotting the mirages from the small desert hills and shrubs. The tents act like your tiny abode in this boundary-ridden desert, in which you can rest and enjoy some Rajasthani folk music and dance, in the backdrop of a moonlight so bright that it whitens the same ‘golden’ desert at night, as you relish the Dal Bati and Churma (a traditional Rajasthani dish).
Day dreaming in the architecture.
After a highly immersing desert experience, you can draw yourself towards the bubbling city side of Jaisalmer, built in and around the majestic fort and its legends. The havelis (houses) that adorn the streets of the fort area are story boards of how kings used to design them for defense and for their queens, yet maintaining the grandeur with the Jheeni Jaali (small intricate designs) work on the walls. Out of the four major havelis, ‘Samir Ki Haveli’ is a must visit, for the unnerving stories it narrates.
The Jaisalmer gluttony and shopping trip.
Jaisalmer is your lunch destination for some delicious Rajasthani food in a traditionally themed décor followed by the intoxication of Bhaang (a local drink). The fort has a bustling market of accessories (must buy paayjans/anklets), artifacts, shoes, shawls (with the Phulkari work) and leather. Old temples adorn the sandstone studded fort. Do not forget to bargain through this energetic market, when engrossed in the shopping euphoria!
A fan of sunsets?
Exploring the outskirts.
Badabag with its sky rocketing windmills, Vyas Chhatri with its solemn structures shining nonchalantly in the sunset, the adventure invoking haunted Khuldara village, the Indo-pak border town of Longewala and the mystical temple of Tanotmata are a few off beat destinations that you can explore when in Jaisalmer. These places are accessible through public transport or through local rickshaws. To stimulate your palate, do stop by and savor the extremely spicy Mirchi Wadas (fried chilli preparation) to absorb the complete flavor of Jaisalmer.
Apart from its misleading mirages and a history more magnificent than its desert, Jaisalmer envelops travelers with a warmth found in the escape of its cold climate. Cuddle up in a tent with your lover or ramble all night with your best friend under the Milky Way galaxy in this mystical land. There is inspiration for everyone, as Jaisalmer speaks of its identity coming from that of a defense and business town. So, take a deep breath and sink your feet in some desert sand.
– Written by Ayushi Limbachiya