Just Jaisalmer!!!

Tripoto
21st Dec 2018
Photo of Just Jaisalmer!!! by Pushpak Apte

When we talk about Jaisalmer, the first thing that pops into our mind is desert and sand dunes. But Jaisalmer has far more than deserts to offer. Desert do form an integral part but that’s not the only thing to watch for.

Okay so Jaisalmer had been on my mind from a very long time, but some or the other things kept me from visiting this place. But finally last winter I was able to make it. Reaching Jaisalmer is not difficult, it is well connected to major cities by rail and road. Jaisalmer also has an airport, with limited flights. Since this had to be a quick and short trip for me, I took a direct flight.

I took the morning flight and reached Jaisalmer at around 10.30. The airport is located almost 17 kms from the city center and there is absolutely nothing outside except large expanse of barren land and desert. It leaves you with no options but to take a cab to reach the city (Charges range between Rs. 800-1000). It takes only about half hour to reach the city (Thanks to the well maintained roads).

I had my stay already booked in Heritage Inn, which is located on the outskirts of the city. After settling in and relaxing for some time, I decided to roam around the city and explore some places. Public transports (Rickshaw, Buses, cabs) are easily available which makes it easier to commute within the city.

Photo of Jaisalmer Airport, Kota Airport Area, Dhauwa, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Day 1

My first stop was the most talked about place in Jaisalmer, The Jaisalmer Fort/Golden Fort. I took a rickshaw which dropped me directly at the fort gate. The fort is a massive sand colored structure with huge entrance and path ways. The fort is home to almost 4000 locals who own small stalls selling puppet dolls, bags, traditional footwear and stuff on the pathways. The fort also comprises of stays for those who would like to experience staying in a fort. The fort also offers you with splendid panoramic view of the entire city from the top where one can spend time enjoying the sunset. But with the increasing tourism and commercialization, the cleanliness of the fort is being highly compromised. We as tourists/travelers need to be extra careful and responsible in maintaining the monuments.

Photo of Jaisalmer Fort, Fort Road, Near Gopa Chowk, Dhibba Para, Manak Chowk, Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Jaisalmer Fort, Fort Road, Near Gopa Chowk, Dhibba Para, Manak Chowk, Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Jaisalmer Fort, Fort Road, Near Gopa Chowk, Dhibba Para, Manak Chowk, Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Jaisalmer Fort, Fort Road, Near Gopa Chowk, Dhibba Para, Manak Chowk, Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Jaisalmer Fort, Fort Road, Near Gopa Chowk, Dhibba Para, Manak Chowk, Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Jaisalmer Fort, Fort Road, Near Gopa Chowk, Dhibba Para, Manak Chowk, Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Jaisalmer Fort, Fort Road, Near Gopa Chowk, Dhibba Para, Manak Chowk, Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Jaisalmer Fort, Fort Road, Near Gopa Chowk, Dhibba Para, Manak Chowk, Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Jaisalmer Fort, Fort Road, Near Gopa Chowk, Dhibba Para, Manak Chowk, Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte

Next stop was Bada Bagh or Barabagh. Bada Bagh is nothing but a garden like place built by the kings and their generations. These are a set of chhatris (umbrellas) which are built on the graves of the late kings. The reason being the kings should be at peace under the chhatris even afterlife. The place is very peaceful and well maintained. You get a good view of the chhatris on one side and the vast expanse of land with windmills on the other. One thing that made me sad is the entry fee, for an open place like that, the entry / camera fee charged is massive. Nevertheless the place is worth visiting and the superb architecture of the chhatris is something to look out for.

Photo of Bada Bagh, Jethwai, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Bada Bagh, Jethwai, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Bada Bagh, Jethwai, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Bada Bagh, Jethwai, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Bada Bagh, Jethwai, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Bada Bagh, Jethwai, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Bada Bagh, Jethwai, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte

After enjoying the splendid views from the top of Jaisalmer fort and learning about the history of Bada Bagh, it was time to visit another architectural beauty. Patvo ki Haveli. It is said to be the first ever built haveli in Jaisalmer. Located on a narrow and busy street, this haveli is not a single building but a cluster of 5 small havelis built by one of the king for his 5 sons. One can expect great architectural and carving skills with an insane touch of royalty inside. You actually feel like going back in time and living life king size.

Photo of Patwon ki Haveli/ Patwa Haveli (Kothari's Patwa Haveli), Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Patwon ki Haveli/ Patwa Haveli (Kothari's Patwa Haveli), Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Patwon ki Haveli/ Patwa Haveli (Kothari's Patwa Haveli), Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Patwon ki Haveli/ Patwa Haveli (Kothari's Patwa Haveli), Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Patwon ki Haveli/ Patwa Haveli (Kothari's Patwa Haveli), Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte

By the time I had explored Patvo ki haveli, it was almost evening and I had one final place to visit. Gadisar Lake. Patvo ki haveli is just a kilometer away from gadisar lake, so it quite easy to get there. The lake has a nice entrance with a long pathway and is surrounded by small temples and chattris. There are steps that are constructed on one side of the lake where one can sit and enjoy the pleasant water or one can even enjoy boating in the lake. I preferred sitting quietly on the steps and enjoy the setting sun. Next day I had some interesting places to explore.

Photo of Gadisar Lake, Postal Colony, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Gadisar Lake, Postal Colony, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Gadisar Lake, Postal Colony, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Gadisar Lake, Postal Colony, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Gadisar Lake, Postal Colony, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan by Pushpak Apte
Day 2

So after having a good breakfast I started my day by hiring a cab. First stop was the Wood fossils of Akal. It is located around 20kms from Jaisalmer city, but does not take long to reach as I mentioned earlier due to the good roads. The place is spread across several acres and has different sections where the wood fossils are preserved. They charge you an entry fee of Rs.50 to take a tour of the place. So once you enter the gate you are welcomed by 3-4 Emu birds which roam around in that area. They are quite friendly and you can pet and feed them. You will also find 2 huge huts constructed out of stones and hay, these are basically museums which depicts the history around the wood fossils. You have to roam around in your cab as the preservations are 4-5kms apart. Wood fossils are basically remains of trees which over the period of time has had some reaction with sand and turned into stones. These fossils are over 160 million years old, and worth a visit. So after exploring the Archaeological side of me i headed to one of the best carved temple in Jaisalmer.

Photo of Akal Wood Fossil Park, Akal, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Akal Wood Fossil Park, Akal, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Akal Wood Fossil Park, Akal, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Akal Wood Fossil Park, Akal, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Akal Wood Fossil Park, Akal, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Akal Wood Fossil Park, Akal, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte

I usually don't prefer visiting temples, but this one was something different. Amarsagar is almost 40kms from Akal and takes around 40 mins to reach. The temple is located on a large expanse of land with nothing around it, except a nice lake next to it. The temple is constructed using white stones which makes the place feel cool even in the scorching heat of Rajasthan. The carving on the walls of the temple is something to look out for. The amount of carving on the walls is insane and detailed to perfection. The place is well maintained and very peaceful, I have to say that this is one of the best carved temple I have ever visited to.

Photo of Amar Sagar, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Amar Sagar, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Amar Sagar, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Amar Sagar, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Amar Sagar, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Amar Sagar, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Amar Sagar, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte

After embracing the beauty of the temple, I was about to visit a haunted place. Kuldhara Village. This place is off the main route and almost 32kms from Jain Temple.
A bit of a background on Kuldhara, this place was supposed to be a very happy and joyful village until came a cruel ruler. Salim Singh, who started imposing excessive taxes on the villagers and on top of that the rainfall in that region reduced drastically which resulted in drying up of all the wells. These all circumstances led to reduction in the agricultural production and thus making the villagers abandon the village overnight. It is said that Kuldhara itself was a cluster of 84 villages which was vacated overnight. There are many more theories which revolve around the abandoning of the village, but this is by far the most accepted one. Since there has been no civilization here from 19th century, it is considered as one of the haunted place in Jaisalmer. The ruins of the houses are spread over a vast expanse of land and one can still figure out the internal structure of the houses. The place has a got a good history and is worth a visit if you are in Jaisalmer.

Photo of Kuldhara, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Kuldhara, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Kuldhara, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Kuldhara, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Kuldhara, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Kuldhara, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Kuldhara, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Kuldhara, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Kuldhara, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Kuldhara, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte

So after exploring the Paliwal civilization and experiencing the haunted Kuldhara, it was time to go for the most awaited part of the trip. The Desert Safari. The safari is done in the Sam desert which is around 35kms from both Kuldhara as well as Jaislamer city. You can pre book your safari for Rs1300-1500 per person which includes a Jeep safari, camel ride, a dance and folk show with snacks and a full course dinner. I reached the dunes in the evening around 5 and was greeted with a welcome drink. Once you are all set for the safari they start with the jeep safari, which is one hell of a ride. People with weak bones shouldn't go on this safari. The amount of incline and decline the jeep takes is unmeasurable. One needs to hold on tightly or he may fall for sure. At the end of the safari your bones start making noise and you may feel like why did you go on that?
Next was the camel safari, which is the exact opposite of the jeep. Calm and slow with very less movement. The only thing to take care of is when the camel gets up and sits back. The tour that is covered in the package is small within a certain radius but you can roam around by paying an extra amount. I preferred roaming around on foot and later enjoying the sunset in desert.
Once the sun is down even the temperatures starts falling and trust me it can get crazy cold out there in the desert. Keep your sweaters and pull overs handy. After dark they lit up the bonfires and start the dance and folk show. They have these open stages with small stands where they make you sit and enjoy the show along with some snacks. The show can go on for 2 hours and later dinner is served. The dinner is a regular roti, sabji with rice and daal and along with that the famous Daal bati and churma is served. They also have tents for the people who wish to stay in the desert. Prior bookings need to be done, since i did not have a booking I headed back to my stay in the city.
After the safari I was almost done with exploring the near site attractions. Now it was time to explore the outskirts.

Photo of Sam Desert Safari Camp Jaisalmer, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Sam Desert Safari Camp Jaisalmer, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Sam Desert Safari Camp Jaisalmer, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Sam Desert Safari Camp Jaisalmer, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Sam Desert Safari Camp Jaisalmer, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Sam Desert Safari Camp Jaisalmer, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Sam Desert Safari Camp Jaisalmer, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Sam Desert Safari Camp Jaisalmer, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Sam Desert Safari Camp Jaisalmer, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Sam Desert Safari Camp Jaisalmer, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Sam Desert Safari Camp Jaisalmer, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Sam Desert Safari Camp Jaisalmer, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Sam Desert Safari Camp Jaisalmer, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Day 3

So after my breakfast I rehired my previous cab for Rs2000 for 240kms to visit the Tanot border. Tanot is a small village on the border of India and Pakistan. You cannot literally visit the border but there are several other spots that you can pay a visit. On the way to tanot there are 2 temples to pay a visit and then we have a war memorial at Longewala which is a detour from Tanot.
So my first stop was the Ghantiyali Mata Temple which is at a distance of 115kms from Jaisalmer and 10kms from Tanot and takes almost 2 hrs to reach.
Ghantiyali Mata Temple is located on the Jaisalmer-Tanot highway. This highway is a stretch of almost 140kms with nothing but sand dunes all over. So after travelling the never ending highway for 2 hours I finally reached the temple. This is a very small and well maintained temple with no villages around it. This is the only structure that can be seen in the vast barren land. A bit of a background about the temple, it was build by one of the boy who was the only survivor when this village was attacked by their rivals. The boy seeking revenge for this act was guided by a lady (who later happened to be Ghantiyali mata) to the village. After seeking revenge the boy build this temple under her name. This maintenance of the temple is looked after by the Border Security Forces (BSF) and all the soldiers seek the blessings before going on tanot border.

Photo of Ghantiyali, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Ghantiyali, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Ghantiyali, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Ghantiyali, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Ghantiyali, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Ghantiyali, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Ghantiyali, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte

I had 10kms more to travel before reaching the Tanot Temple. Tanot is said to be the sister of Ghantiyali. Tanot village is the last point a traveller can travel to. Ahead of that is the border which is a restricted area and only army personnel are allowed to pass. So Tanot Temple is again same as any other temple expect they have a Durgah on one side and a Temple on the other. The is mostly crowded due to the small passage inside. I preferred to take the blessings from outside. There is also a fencing where people tie handkerchiefs and make a wish. The vicinity of the temple even has a memorial made in the memory of all the soldiers who sacrificed their life in the battle of Longewala.

Photo of Tanot, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Tanot, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Tanot, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Tanot, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Tanot, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Tanot, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Tanot, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Tanot, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Tanot, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Tanot, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte

38kms detour from Tanot is a war memorial and museum made which depicts the entire battle of Longewala. The battle was fought between India and Pakistan in the year 1971. The museum has all the weapons that were used during the war. It also has a proper timeline which explains how the attack was planned and how India emerged victorious.

Photo of Longewala, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Longewala, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Longewala, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Longewala, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Longewala, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Longewala, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Day 4

So this was my last day in Jaisalmer and I had 1 important destination to cover. Pokhran. The nuclear test site for India.

Pokhran is a good 120kms from Jaisalmer and takes around 2 hours to reach. On the way to Pokhran is another temple that you can pay a visit to (Which I did). Ramdevra Temple is 12kms before Pokhran and is a typical hindu temple that one can imagine. A long pathway with different shops lined up on the sides selling stuffs like essence sticks, sweets for prasad, flowers and small toys for kids. Inside the temple I was surprised to see something very funny but still people believing in it. They have a small arch made right in front of the main temple which says that, “If you pass from this your journey would be safe and all your wishes would come true” and people literally try to pass through that small arch crawling. Anyways I also tried to go through it but I couldn’t and my shoulders got stuck, God save me!!!

Photo of Ramdevra, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Ramdevra, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Ramdevra, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte

After taking the blessings from Ramdevra, another 15 mins drive and I was in the Pokhran fort. Pokhran fort is one the small but beautiful fort in the city of Jaisalmer. The fort previously home to the Rathore clan but is currently managed and maintained by the Royal family of Pokhran. They have even converted some part of the fort into a hotel for tourist who wish to stay in the fort and experience the royalty. The fort has a spacious architectural structure and a good collection of the then used items which is well preserved by the Royal family. Of course they do charge a nominal amount of entry fee and parking fee, but that is justified given the well maintained fort.

Photo of Just Jaisalmer!!! by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Just Jaisalmer!!! by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Just Jaisalmer!!! by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Just Jaisalmer!!! by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Just Jaisalmer!!! by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Just Jaisalmer!!! by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Just Jaisalmer!!! by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Just Jaisalmer!!! by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Just Jaisalmer!!! by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Just Jaisalmer!!! by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Just Jaisalmer!!! by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Just Jaisalmer!!! by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Just Jaisalmer!!! by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Just Jaisalmer!!! by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Just Jaisalmer!!! by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Just Jaisalmer!!! by Pushpak Apte

I was officially done with my Jaisalmer trip after Pokhran fort, but on the way back to the city I stopped by to pay a visit to the War museum which is 15kms before Jaisalmer. The museum is one of the finest when it comes to display of the rich Indian military forces and it also creates an awareness about the sacrifices made by our fellow soldiers. There are different section depicting various battles fought in the state of Rajasthan including the Battle of Longewala.

The museum makes every effort to highlight the sacrifices and the hard work that the soldiers do on the battle field while we sleep at our home at peace. Overall Jaisalmer is a great place to explore the rich and royal Indian culture.

Photo of Jaisalmer War Museum, Thaiyat, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Jaisalmer War Museum, Thaiyat, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
Photo of Jaisalmer War Museum, Thaiyat, Rajasthan, India by Pushpak Apte
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