28 December 2012

Jaisalmer - The Golden City of Rajasthan

Getting caught up on some older posts....lets see, what did I miss? Oh yeah, India August 2010.

Will and I traveled by train to the heart of the Thar desert in the far West of India to Jaisalmer, the Golden City of Rajasthan.

Jaisalmer ( Jeye-sall-meer) is a 16 hour overnight train ride from Delhi. Our first experience with the trains was exactly as you would expect....complete chaos. You're not really sure where your train will come in and when it did, hundreds of people started climbing on it, in it, over it...before it even stopped. It was already full to capacity by Western standards...plenty of room by Indian standards. The class of cars is marked on the outside, but they are in no particular order...and there were 40 of them. After the train stopped, Will and I started walking down the "platform" looking for our car, as hundreds of people ran by us in every which direction. We eventually started walking faster as we realized we couldn't find our car....then running.

Then the train started moving.

I yelled to Will that we had to get on and he said he didn't see our car....I said "its leaving!"

Like stunt men, we actually had to run along side and jump onto a moving train...with our backpacks on.

We pushed our way through the crowd of people by the door and into the hallway, and luckily ran right into a train man who offered to help us find our "seats"....which, turns out, we were literally standing right next to.

We had jumped onto our car as it passed by! Hows that for luck?

As we had traveled from Nepal earlier that day, we were tired and able to sleep for most of the night. In the morning we reached Jaisalmer.

Jaisalmer, dominated by its amazing fort (built in 1156), is an incredible, incredible place. One of the last states to sign a treaty with the British, the people here are fiercely independent.

It feels very different than Delhi, thats for sure.

Having left Guillaume in Nepal, Will and I were on our own for a few days. We settled into our hotel and immediately set out exploring. We found a great, air conditioned restaurant (above) right across from the fort and had our first taste of Rajasthani food...delish.

Then, back to exploring!

The architecture is....well...amazing. Some of the most famous medieval Havelis are in Jaisalmer.

The city has pretty much all the same sand color buildings, which give the city its reputation of being the Golden City. At sunrise/sunset its a beautiful sight.

The fort is very impressive with its 99 bastions and its imposing position on a hill looking over the city.

We stayed at a small off the beaten path family run hotel which was very pleasant and had a great view of the fort. It had all the little desert building architectural delights like pass throughs in the ceilings and floors for air movement.

We were there in Late August...it was very hot...brutal in the sun, but manageable in the shade.

The old bazaars were full of the standard Indian trinkets, plus regional stuff you don't see other places. Less wool shawls, more silver jewelry. Lots of camel leather bags, hats etc.

No cow leather of course....but lots of cows roaming the streets.

We spent an entire day walking around the old city with intermittent stops for cold beverages. The heat really takes it out of you.

Although tourists do come to Jaisalmer, it wasn't nearly as crowded as Delhi, especially in August. Many tourists come here to avoid the Monsoon this time of year and this year the floods had driven many people south from Ladakh.

We hooked up with a bunch of people to catch a ride about 30 miles into the desert.

We visited a few temples, palaces and the like.

Some pretty surreal sites....did I mention it was hot like an oven?

The group we were with all went on an overnight camel safari, so Will and I rented a couple of camels of our own and headed out to the West to catch the sunset in the desert.

After two hours on the camels we had left civilization behind and were IN the desert.

Pretty freakin cool.

Our guides walked as we rode. Felt kinda bad, but I gave them each a Pepsi....so it was cool.

Camels are interesting, dirty, beautiful, disgusting animals. Very impressive that they don't need water and can carry a lot of weight. Ships of the desert indeed.

We got back at nightfall and crashed hard....exhausted.

The next day we did some more exploring and met up with two Italians who had been in the truck with us out to the camel place.

We spent the afternoon, relaxing out of the sun with new friends Fabiana and Alain.

After we said arrivederci to our new pals, we walked around some more and stopped at one more place for one last rest and a cold drink.

The locals drink a yogurt drink called a Lassi. You can get it in all flavors...mango, lime, vanilla.

mmmmm sour yogurt drink with fruit...no thanks

After 3 1/2 days in Jaisalmer, Will and I were ready to hit the rails again to meet up with Guillaume in Jodhpur.

Guess who we ran into on the train? Our new Italian friends!

The train through the desert has no filters on the air system, so the train fills up with sand and dust. Luckily Will had brought some hospital type masks from China...and luckily I had brought the cards!

6 hours of American and Italian card games!

A great stop on the big trip...next up, the Blue City of Jodhpur!


maigrir calories said...

superbe voyage :)

Chris said...

Merci beaucoup!

bananaorangeapple said...

Would love to go to India one day. Great blog!

Chris said...

Thanks, I hope to go back someday soon too!

Bridal lehenga said...
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