Being born and brought up in Calcutta in a complete Bengali atmosphere, we were never immune to the charms of Satyajit Ray and the short stories used to be our daily dose before sleep. Naturally, like 90% of the kids back in our times, both of us also had this keen longing to visit “Shonar Kella” or the Golden Fortress of Jaisalmer (courtesy: a detective thriller by Ray by the same name). So, this year, finally we were able to zero on Jaisalmer for our short trip and off we went!
Jaisalmer is a small desert town located right next to the Thar. Unlike Jodhpur that exudes royalty and grandeur by the word, Jaisalmer has this innate rustic old world charm that can enthral one and all. As is known to all, Rajasthan’s majesty rests in its natural beauty dotted with man-made paradises (read forts and palaces). But what makes Jaisalmer all the more special is that its 860-year-old fort still houses more than 100 families, including a palace where the king still frequents for festivals and fairs.
If you have been to Rajasthan and haven’t been to the desert towns, such as Jaisalmer, Bikaner, and Barmer among many – you would be surprised by the plethora of sights and sounds that welcome you to this area being so different from the rest of the state. However, what remains intact is the warmth of the people and the smiles they had at the slightest encounters. Here’s a list of 7 things we loved about Jaisalmer and which would perhaps impel us to visit the place soon!
1. Start your day with special Rajasthani Chai
In India, a morning is not good enough if there’s no chai or tea. While the health conscious urban people opts for green tea or tea without milk and sugar, for the folks back in villages and little towns, the day has to start with ‘special cutting chai’! We personally loved the chai from German Bakery right inside the main gate of the fort. And if you, too, are there, don’t forget to take a bite of their famous bakes!
A cup of tea at the German Bakery will set you back by Rs 30!
2. Visit the iconic Patwaon ki Haveli
A group of 5 palaces make this iconic ‘Patwaon ki haveli’. However, only one among these is open for tourists. Legend has it that these houses were made by a wealthy merchant for five of his sons. So, you can imagine how intricate the artistry on the buildings is! It is said that the carvings on the walls of such Rajasthani palaces and forts became inspiration for the jewellers later on, and they would replicate the same on their precious jewelleries, especially earrings.
Entrance fee to the Patwaon ki Haveli costs around Rs 100 as of Jan, 2017.
3. Explore the Golden Fortress!
This one is obvious, isn’t it? Well – not really for we have seen most of the tourists spending their time in visiting the palace museum only. Of course, the palace is as beautiful as the word can get but there remain SO MANY things to be explored and understood other than the temples, the ruins, and the palace. Personally, we devoted almost an entire day to Trikundgarh or the Golden Fortress! The children in us that rested on the distant dream of visiting Shonar Kella one day were seen prancing on the lanes and by-lanes of the fort and eager to listen to the stories of the bygone days from every stranger they came across. So what if you lose your way, the fort has been constructed in such a way that you shall reach the centre no matter which way you choose to take!
4. Eat and be merry at the little hippie food joints
Since Jaisalmer is mostly frequented by foreigners, there has emerged a quaint little hippie zone right inside the fort. From delectable formaggi pizza to succulent dimsum platters, you shall be wowed by the variety of cuisines on offer in this lovely little desert town. Alternatively, you can also try out special Rajasthani thalis outside the fort – preferably in a restaurant which offers a panoramic view of the city – for we felt the cuisine here is much different from that of Jodhpur. And if you choose to go a la carte, do try out their Ker Sangri sabzi.
5. Spend some romantic languorous moment at the Gadisar Lake
The lake that was once the sole source of water for the town – till 1965 to be precise – is now more of a laid back zone where you can enjoy a lovely boat ride or simply gaze at the sky changing its hues. Migratory birds flock the lake in the months of November-December offering a pristine aura to the entire lake. Although we were not fascinated by the boat ride as such, we were definitely enthralled by the solitude this place had to offer. Walk a bit from the Lake towards the car parking area and you shall come across the sunset view point that offers the most gorgeous sunset of the town.
6. Don’t miss out on glamping at the Sam Sand Dunes
Although we have had our own share of camping, this was our first time glamping and we LOVED it. Even if glamping is not your cuppa, you can really spend a night on the camping resorts right across the Sam Sand Dunes. Almost all these resorts host cultural programmes in the evening. I will be wrong if I say we were looking forward to that part – actually we were thinking of skipping it – but once into the event, we could not just get up and leave, so smitten we were by the performances of dancers and musicians extraordinaire!
7. Sunset at the dunes? Yes please!
The trip to Jaisalmer ushered in a lot of firsts for us – and we loved every bit of it. You can also dune bash in the desert but we chose to rest it aside for this trip!
If you have time, you can also take day trips to Kuldhara and Ludhavara ji.