The rainy season certainly isn’t really the right time to visit Jaisalmer, especially if you wish to enjoy a camel safari and a night of camping under the starry sky. But that did not deter the curious rain chaser in me who desperately wanted to experience the monsoon magic in the ‘Golden City of India’. After living the Maharaja life at a 550-year-old haveli in Jodhpur, we decided to take off to Jaisalmer by road. I must say that our 300 km drive was quite rewarding. The highway was stark empty with open spaces on either side, and no visible economic activity for miles and miles; we almost felt like we privately owned the beautiful surroundings. To make the trip all the more pleasant, peacocks, camels and blackbucks occasionally made an appearance, gorging themselves on the fresh green grass, courtesy the random bursts of rain.
The city that is entirely constructed by yellow sandstone is much more laid-back and hassle-free as compared to cities like Jodhpur and Jaipur and untouched by globalisation. Retaining the rural Rajasthani aura and culture, the city has no fancy malls or popular food chains and is hugely dotted with ruins. We started our day with a walking tour of the city’s major heritage spots which are within the radius of 2 to 4 km. Even if you’ve hired a car or taxi, you’ll have to walk up to most of the places as the streets are quite narrow. When you look at the magnificent, carved havelis and the unique fort perforated with winding lanes and lined with houses and temples, you’ll be transformed to a bygone era and would never wish to return to reality.
After savoring a few local dishes like Ker Sangri and Daal Baati at one of the small joints near the fort, we proceeded to Sam Sand Dunes for a desert safari which was just the perfect way to end the evening on a delightful note. It wasn’t raining that evening and we just got lucky. When it rains, you can’t recognise the desert – heaps of sand are eroded, leaving behind bare nut-brown earth and a camel or jeep safari remains a distant dream. But we got to experience both and it was thoroughly enjoyable. Yes, the ride is likely to take a toll on your back if you tend to become too stiff and don’t move in the same rhythm. Post the safari, you can either get back to your hotel or book an overnight stay at one of the desert camps to witness the breathtaking sunset and spend the night around a bonfire or simply appreciate the rustic performances by the folk dancers of Rajasthan.
My trip to Jaisalmer was indeed a memorable one as it felt like I was travelling back in time. Too hard to believe? Here’s a glimpse
WHY JAISALMER TOUCHED MY SOUL: My trip to Jaisalmer truly helped me get a sense of the unimaginable vastness of both the sky and the desert. Looking at the endless stretches in isolation and nothingness, I realised how little I am in this big space and how little I know of it. And taking a deep breath out of divine contentment, I walked off…
HOW TO GET THERE:
By air: Jodhpur is the nearest airport (275 km); it is connected with domestic and international flights to and from major destinations.
By rail: Wish to experience royalty at its best? You’d be happy to know that Jaisalmer is also one of the major stations in the journey by India’s first luxury train Palace on Wheels. Jaisalmer has daily connectivity with Bikaner, Lalgarh, Jodhpur, Jaipur and Delhi. The cheapest way to reach Jaisalmer from Mumbai is to take Suryanagari Express from Mumbai to Jodhpur and then take a connecting train from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer.
By road: Since Jaisalmer lies on NH 15, Volvo buses run to Jaisalmer from Delhi and Ahmedabad. Several state transport and private buses also connect Jaisalmer with Jodhpur, Jaipur, Barmer, Udaipur, Bikaner, Mt Abu, Ahmadabad, Mumbai, Pune and other cities of India.
BEST TIME TO VISIT:
November to March is an ideal time to visit Jaisalmer. Sightseeing and other outdoor activities like camel ride, desert safari and camping are more enjoyable during this time as the maximum temperature does not go beyond 24 degrees Celsius. Evenings are cooler and nights can be quite chilly, especially during the months of December and January, with the temperature further dropping down to 7 or 8 degrees Celsius in the desert areas.