Khamma Ghani Hukum!
A very warm welcome to everyone out there. It is winter season in North India at this time. We looked at many travel options to make the most of the long weekend of four days in January.
As we are living in New Delhi, we zeroed on to explore the Golden City of Jaisalmer primarily due to two reasons.
One we love train travel and Jaisalmer is easily accessible by train from Delhi which is not only cost saving but also worth travelling as we will soon find out. Second is Jaisalmer, being primarily a desert area witnesses scorching heat from March onwards till the onset of winters. Hence, November to February is the best time to visit the place.
So, let's begin our trip to Jaisalmer
We started from Delhi by boarding Rajasthan Sampark Kranti train from Delhi Cantt station to Jodhpur. There are a few more trains available and one can choose as per his convenience. We reached Jodhpur at around 8 30 AM the next morning, which is basically Day 1 of our trip.
We had our breakfast at the station, the famous Pyaz kachori and tea and booked a cab to Jaisalmer. It was a 5 hour journey and let me tell you it wasn't boring at all. First, the condition of the road is excellent, one would love to drive on such roads. Second, the view on both sides of the road is different from other parts of the country and that is why we choose road trip. We took our lunch at one of the dhabas on the highway as suggested by our Driver.
We reached Jaisalmer around 4:00 PM and as we entered the city we were mesmerized by the beauty of the city and how every building, be it a shop, a govt office or a residential area, it is constructed in Yellow sand stone. We checked in our hotel which we had already booked. All the hotels in Jaisalmer have the royal touch in their interiors and bear a Havelli look from outside.
Soon, we got ready and set off for sightseeing to one of the very few living forts in the world, the Jaisalmer Fort. We took a tour of the fort on foot and also enjoyed sunset at Top view Cafe. (There are many cafe inside the fort and most of them provide a mesmerizing view of the sunset, you can grab your seat at any of these and watch the sun going down into the Golden color of the city). There is a city view point at fort from where the whole Jaisalmer city can be seen built in yellow sand stone and hence, the name Golden City. After spending some time walking in the alleys of the palace we headed to our second destination of the day, Patwon ki Haveli, also known as Mansion of Brocade Merchant. It is a cluster of five large Havelis. Its main attraction are its exquisite architecture, its mirror work, carvings and lovely paintings. After soaking in the beauty of this place we headed back to our hotel.
Here we emphasize that Jaisalmer is not a big city and most of its tourist attractions can be reached by foot like we did. Although, you can book a cab or take an auto also.
We had pre-booked an auto at 6:00 AM to take us to the Gadisagar lake to witness the beautiful sunrise by the lake. It is an artificial lake built by King of Jaisalmer Sh Rawal Jaisal. Although, the sunrise actually happened at 7 30 AM, the wait was worth it as we sat down by the lake and healed our heart with the peace and quiet atmosphere of the lake and chirping of birds around. We also took a boat ride and enjoyed our breakfast at a cafe by the lake.
We continued on our auto to Badabagh. The royal cenotaphs at Bada Bagh are located outside the city. It is believed, all the cenotaphs are constructed in the memory of royal members of the palace. Sunset from this place is also worth watching but as we went in the morning, we clicked a few lovely pics and returned to our hotel.
After having lunch we packed our bags and boarded our pre booked cab to Kuldhara Village, which is an abandoned Village approx 17 Km from Jaisalmer. There are ruins of the village which is said to be haunted. The Govt of Rajasthan is developing the place as a major tourist attraction. There are several stories on the internet related to how the village became abandoned overnight.
After exiting from the village, we continued our journey to the highlight of Jaisalmer trip, the Sam Sand Dunes to feel the vast expanse of the desert, where we had our camp ready to welcome us. There are various camps in the Sam Sand dunes where one can book a tent or cottage from the hotels or travel agency, however, it is recommended to book it in advance as the inventory is limited and you may miss to get a room. The package ranges between Rs 3000/- to Rs 5000/- and includes, overnight stay in the tent, buffet dinner, cultural program and camel rides. We also enjoyed Jeep Safari in the desert along with camel safari. We also did parasailing and Quad biking. We enjoyed the sun setting down on the dunes of the desert.
Next day, we had a good morning when the first rays of the sun emanating from behind the desert dunes kissed our cheeks. We took our breakfast served in the camp and set off to our next destination which is Longewala, a border town in Jaisalmer. As we all know, it is one of the places where war of 1971 was fought between India and Pakistan. Firstly, the drive from Jaisalmer to Longewala is roughly 120 KM and the roads are one of the best in the country, being maintained by Border Roads Organization responsible for border roads in India for movement of the Indian army. Also, the sand dunes on both sides along the road, wind mill, camels etc make this road trip one of the unique experience one could have in India. Longewala houses a war memorial, where Indian weapons are exhibitioned. It also houses the Pakistani Tanks captured by Indian army during the 1971 war. After having tea and maggi at a cafe inside the memorial maintained by army, we proceeded towards Tanot Mata Temple which is around 45 KM from Longewala.
Tanot Mata Temple, which is also shown in the Bollywood movie Border is managed by Indian Army. During the war of 1971, heavy shelling was done by Pakistani Army, however, it is said that the bombs that fell in the vicinity of the temple did not explode. These bombs are still displayed in the temple along with photo gallery containing few rare photos of that time.
We wanted to visit the Indo-Pak border which meant we needed a permit to do so. The permit is given at a specific counter in the Tanot Mata Mandir itself. After getting the permit we headed to the border and what better time it would have been than the Republic Day of India. That feeling...when we reached the border. The other side of the fence, Pakistan just a stone's throw away. The crowd shouting Bharat Mata ki Jai along with the Indian Soldiers was the best moment of the trip.
We drove back to our hotel in Jaisalmer, it was already evening by then, we sipped hot tea and went to Vyas Chatri which was right in front of our hotel and soak the beauty of the sunset in Jaisalmer for the last time before we had our dinner.
on Day 4 we headed to Train Station and boarded the Ranikhet express at 3 AM from Jaisalmer station which reaches Delhi Cantt station at 8 30 PM
Thus, our trip ended with sweet memories and lovely pics!
Few tips for your upcoming trip to Jaisalmer.
Book your accommodation in Jaisalmer in advance to avoid any last minute rush in the peak tourist season.
Almost all the hotels are either inside the Jaisalmer fort or near it outside. Prefer exploring the city on foot to take a feel of the city, people and life in the desert city.
Relish on the enticing cuisines of Rajasthan like Dal bati churma, Kachori and if you are Non-Veg don't forget to have Lal Mas - Best place to have lal mas is Romany Restaurant, a little expensive but worth it.
Book your sam sand dunes tent/cottage/package in advance and you can pay for other activities on the spot and enjoy them.
At Tanot Mata Mandir, there is a que for getting the permit to visit the border so reach there well in time will original IDs especially Driving License of the driver which will be deposited at the counter and can be collected on your return.
You can explore Jodhpur and take a train in the evening or next day morning to Jaisalmer. The train travel from Jodhpur to Jaislmer is one of the most beautiful train travel in India. You can book a train directly from Delhi to Jaisalmer. Jaisalmer is having a small airport and only spicejet flies to and from there. Plan accordingly.
Our trip was made much easier by our driver, Nizam Khan aka Raju. For contacts please DM me.
Wish you a great trip to Jaisalmer.