Royal Rajasthan - Jaisalmer, The King Of Forts

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Photo of Royal Rajasthan - Jaisalmer, The King Of Forts by Akshata Rao

Jaisalmer, Rajasthan's regal Golden City. It has a sense of mystery around it which only intensifies as its massive sand coloured fort floats into view as you step into the city. It sits there nonchalantly, in view all the time from anywhere - inviting, intriguing, inscrutable.

But for me, this wasn't the evocative experience of this trip. Instead, it was a rustic war museum sitting on the southern end of Jaisalmer which stole my heart.

Courtesy for all photos: My significant other @bsridharan

Day 1

For the last two years, I’ve searched high and low for a sense of national identity, but in vain. I’ve struggled with language, religion and any other vector of supposed “identity”. I only marvel at how varied we are as a country, and in that I’ve found a semblance of joy. But what is with these army posts, these stories of valour and sacrifice that move me? Ever since I’ve seen a check-post 20km from the LoC in Kashmir overlooking a hill where infiltrators sneak in by night and talked to three camps of border guards, any border town and associated paraphernalia tugs at my heart. I have this desire to stop, bow my head to those who give life and limb to protect what we take for granted every single day, and then proceed. The War Museum at Jaisalmer fit the bill. And it was rather creepy to note that while India marks 50 years of the 1965 war, B and I have snuck up to the boundaries of 3 of the 4 fronts of that war – Kashmir, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Oh, we rented a two-wheeler for this day. That by itself counts for this trip being a success in pushing myself out of my comfort zone, heh!

Photo of Jaisalmer War Museum, Thaiyat, Rajasthan, India by Akshata Rao
Photo of Jaisalmer War Museum, Thaiyat, Rajasthan, India by Akshata Rao

There are so many different ways to remember our dearly dead, and the Rajput royals in the 16th century picked a beautiful architectural tribute. A cluster of chattris (umbrellas) stand in tribute to a few line of kings, till they moved onto something else.

Photo of Bada Bagh, Jethwai, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Akshata Rao
Photo of Bada Bagh, Jethwai, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Akshata Rao

Jaisalmer Fort is a living fort! People live inside, although my cynical mind could only find shops and cafes to cater to the tourist crowd. We did cross decked up cows and women tending to them on a little path a few feet wide, and I keep my cynicism aside to believe that they still call this place home.

A palace within a fort, and by this time I could talk myself through the various architectural details like jalis, jarokhas, the armoury, courtyards and the zenana chambers :)

We then headed to the western corner of the fort, to a few chairs hastily put together for a sunset point. We hung out with a few other tourists from Spain and Australia as we waited for a cloud cover that just would not lift to reveal the sunset! The perks of traveling in the off-season was that we had the entire place to ourselves and we got to chat up a few of the folks there, the downside was that there was no fiery desert sunset to see :)

City Palace

Photo of City Palace, Khejer Para, Manak Chowk, Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Akshata Rao

City Palace

Photo of City Palace, Khejer Para, Manak Chowk, Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Akshata Rao

Views of the massive still functioning fort!

Photo of City Palace, Khejer Para, Manak Chowk, Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Akshata Rao

Sunset Point

Photo of City Palace, Khejer Para, Manak Chowk, Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Akshata Rao
Day 2

There are very few things I've regretted doing when I've travelled, and this by far tops the list. The ride into Sam Dunes was terrible, Kuldhara is over rated and the camel safari was the most cruel thing to do to this gentle beast. My heart sheds a tear whenever I think of this. I'm still searching for a way to make it up to these vessels of the desert. Oh, and the "cultural show", ugh. Did we get the trainees or what?! We walked out without staying for dinner.

Day 3

Lifestyles of the rich and famous, from a few hundred years ago :)

Photo of Patwon Ki Haveliyan, Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Akshata Rao
Photo of Patwon Ki Haveliyan, Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India by Akshata Rao
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