Jodhpur to Jaisalmer
Trip Start Jun 10, 2010
94Trip End Apr 08, 2011
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En route to the desert city of Jaisalmer, we broke up our journey with a stop at Jodhpur, the 'Blue City' sitting in the shadow of an enormous fort.
We arrived late at night – near midnight – and as our rickshaw took us to our guest house, we passed through crazy celebrations on the streets. India had just won the Cricket World Cup semi-finals against Pakistan, and the locals were celebrating with parties, fireworks, and police-marshalled car parades of the Indian flag. It was pretty insane – they know how to celebrate!
Whilst in the city, we visited the huge Mehrangarh Fort with its remarkable barracks and enormous towers, opting out of the chance to do a zip-line across it (yes, really) due to the immense heat of the day
After a (very) early train ride in 3rd class, where I had to keep my feet up off the floor to avoid the mice and cockroaches running around our bags, we arrived into the old city of Jaisalmer.
We stayed just outside the walls of the enormous fort (everywhere seems to have a fort in Rajasthan), amongst the haveli-laden city that seemed straight out of Arabian Nights or Aladdin. The fort is one of the largest forts in the world and is rumoured to be sinking. It towers above the rest of the city, yet blends in well with its sandstone architecture.
From an early stage on our trip, we realised we didn’t want to do anything just because the Lonely Planet says we should (not that we even have a Lonely Planet, but you get what I mean – travel guides in general). Yet, we still end up seeing some sights out of fear of ‘missing out on something’ as opposed to pure curiosity. We have yet to discover that one thing we would have ‘missed out on’ had we given certain sights a miss when they fail to interest us personally to begin with, but we keep doing it..
Unlike other forts of Rajasthan, Jaisalmer Fort is occupied by homes, guest houses, temples and street vendors, giving it the feel of a city within a city - which it technically is. If it wasn’t for the odd devious looking cow or speeding moped, it could have been taken right out of Disney’s Aladdin. The dusty surroundings were all sand-based, with winding streets of stone carvings and detailed entrances, and numerous havelis - private masions with elaborate decor. I can see how Jaisalmer would get rave reviews from tourists seeing it as their first Asian destination - it’s just how you would imagine a desert city to feel. I’m glad we made the effort.
We would sit once more on our guest house’s roof top by night, smoking apple Shisha and gazing up at a sky full of the brightest stars. It wasn’t hard to remind ourselves that we were now in the middle of the desert.
Rich had no luck with animals during our time there. At one point he was chased down an alleyway by a raging bull flaring its horns, only narrowly escaping after changing direction too sharply for the bull to follow
We rode for a few hours through the sand dunes, just the two of us and our camel-keeper, before meeting two other camels and their riders for a sunset dinner. The sunset itself was incredible across the dunes, a mix of reds and oranges merging rapidly as the sun sank into the sand. When it disappeared, we were surrounded by a sky full of more stars than I have ever seen, where we sat around a campfire preoccupied by the thought of cobras and scorpions under our feet.
After an exciting 4x4 ride home through the dunes, we arrived just in time to see India win the World Cup, setting off a crazy celebration party in the streets again. Fireworks burst from the rooftops around us and the drinks began to flow, so we joined in clumsily with the dancing as they congratulated me on having the ‘luckiest birthday’ in India... Not so lucky the next day perhaps, being given a second dose of Delhi Belly for a few days. So much for the ‘amazing’ curries - I’m living off rehydration sachets in India!