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Jaisalmer and the crazy 20’s!

When you’re in your 20s it’s all about having fun your way, for me it’s driving down that unknown road, exploring places without a definite plan and to define your moment by doing something crazy which you, your friends appreciate for life, but the moments in real life.

We have been on the road for 2 days, seen glimpses of the fresco haveli in Mandawa, the Junagarh Fort in Bikaner and it’s late when we start off for Jaisalmer with the sense of reaching there sometime early evening and find a camping site to pitch our tents which we had been carrying in the car from Delhi and wanted to put it to some use. We do stop by a local tea shop to capture the sun set and we loose the track of time reaching Jaisalmer at around midnight, instead of camping site we are looking for food. The famous desert city looked stunning in the clear night sky with the half moon just showing enough of what the city offered and the tiresome eyes could catch, with its sandcastle fortress – there is no other metaphor for it – rising vivid yellow from the town, against the dim light grey sky. The city crawling with freelance guides, and hotel and safari touts, and the Jaisalmer variety were more aggressive. We did finally find a place to eat and the owner turns out be another tour guide ready to take us into the wilderness of the desert. We end up at the Hotel Mamool, RTDC property in Jaisalmer, pitch our tents and plan for the next activity, Pictionary in the tent. To top it up, I am tagged along with the weakest one but the setting is too exotic to think about the game seriously, we end up spending most of our time gazing at the sky and the dimly lit fort shining yellow, it’s “Coldplay”.

Morning as planned we have to drive down to Tanot Mata another 120 KM. The sun is still not anywhere in the picture and moon too has disappeared. It’s pitch dark when we hit the highway leading to Tanot and then within a few minutes colours of sunrise in the desert start showing up. My first hour in the desert was spent staring wonderingly around me, enthused, savoring the experience. The landscape was surprisingly varied: the soft waves of fine sand that I’d always imagined, piled like pyramids, but also long stretches of bare rock, or hard-packed dirt studded with scrubby, stubborn bushes; Now with the Indra Gandhi Canal coming in we were even able to spot a few farms in the middle of the barren desert and the wind farms in the backdrop. It was still early, and the air was dry and clean, not at all like the damp, warm air crowded with odors that I had breathed in the cities. We make several pit stops; to catch the morning colors, sudden villages emerging behind the dunes, a herd of cattle unaware of the road and to satisfy the urge for road side tea.

The morning passed , so too did my curiosity of the desert landscape. It seemed like I am home comfortable in the little warm temperature and clear sky. We see Tanot right in front of us, a considerably grand temple to a small lonely temple we had seen in the movie, ‘Border’. The disappointing fact was that the Border security force didn’t allow us to explore the border area further apparently the roads further towards Pakistan have been closed unless you know ‘Someone’. We head in the other direction towards a famous border post of Laungewala, 1971 India – Pak war fame. The road from Tanot to Laungewala is not leveled but not bad by any means, infact it’s a single lane road like a roller coaster, I wish I had my bike rather then the car, with the dunes giving you the feel of you driving on the dune itself. We again make a few pit stops to spot a few birds, cattle herds, villages and clear dunes.

We are back in the city, Jaisalmer by afternoon in day light seems pretty different especially with the most important event of the year taking place, “The Desert Festival”. In the city stadium people are all charged up, inquiring, betting and of course judging. We enjoyed the festive atmosphere around it and then moved on to see the ‘must-watch’ things with which the city of Jaisalmer is recognized, the Jaisalmer Fort, inside it you have the famous Patwon ki Haveli and the Jain Temple. Massive area, crowded streets, more than 5000 people living inside the fort surrounded by the Yellow walls. Patwon Ki Haveli, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan This site is a cluster of five private residences that once belonged to a merchant family, now declared a heritage monument. The oldest of the five is just under 200 years. Keeping our packed schedule for this road trip in mind we had no option to bid the lovely fort, its lively colors and the mesmerizing Rajasthani music behind, capturing as much as we could in our mind and cameras. In the memory of Jaisalmer I have just one think to conclude with I am coming back soon!

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