Tuesday

Princely Jaisalmer










Imagine a bustling, alive, castle-like habitat, on a gorgeous yellow hill, surrounded and encapsulated in its own world? It’s beautiful, magical, enthralling - Rising from the heart of the Thar Desert like a golden mirage - the city of Jaisalmer. One with nature, harmonious in its blending, so complete in its dwelling and narration, enchanting in its tales and folklore - it took my breath away.

At times I was an out an out tourist there gawking at the colours, the marvel of the havelis and the ghagra cholis and the silver jewelry; at times I felt at home with the generosity of the people treating me so kindly to their hearth and reflecting such warm hearts when sharing their bajra rotis and green chilies and ghee for dinner under the open skies of their thatched roof home courtyards; and there were times I felt like the fairy princess so at peace with the magic of this land that I felt I was living in the fairy tales of Arabian lands. Jaisalmer weaves an undeniable magic on the traveler with its simplicity, mystic and magical way of life.

I was there on a film shoot and spent a beautiful 11days in the desert land surrounded by the army of India (incidentally we were shooting with them) - a hospitable warm kind hearted world of people who with equal ease could take apart any enemy threatening their world. We lived in this once upon a time gigantic palace turned hotel today with remnants of the palatial days with beautiful linen and 4 poster beds, large rooms that engulfed me with its high ceilings and cold walls.
On the first morning here, I walked out keeping an eye on the tall fort visible from everywhere in town, and found its gates without having to ask anyone while on a recce. The Fort is a town by itself packed with people and life. It has roof top restaurants that serve world cuisines, art shops that sell wares of the state, locals playing musical instruments everywhere especially little children with such adeptness and ease that had me transfixed and rooted to the spot, mesmerized and transported into another magical world. And boy can they sing! They are gifted with vocal chords so deep and beautiful; they create magic with their songs. Moved by the melody of their music, I bought a lot of local music and even a local musical instrument.

The fortress is an impressive structure. The thick fort walls built on a tall mound are visible from far away. Jaisalmer is a remote land that is unlikely to come in an enemy's path, but king Rawal Jaisal was cautious enough to build something infallible. Sadly today, it is not well looked after and with the pillage and nature causing its own havoc part of this fortress has crumbled and people say more likely to be eroded. A pity. These forts need to be preserved as part of our heritage for an eternity I should think!

Right outside the fort, is Patwon Ki Haveli, an edifice that stands taller than the Royal Palace in the fort. A magnificent structure that is resplendent in yesteryears royalty and magnificence of art- it is breathtaking. A photographer’s delight.

And the next day we moved like a caravan into the deserts. I was spell bound. Rolling sand dunes, Picture perfect settings. Cool breeze lifting the sand ever so slightly. Could nature be so beautiful? So artistic? So pure so magnificent, so… I was at a loss of words. I felt Jaisalmer in every pore of my being. I felt the fine sand under my feet, the dunes were absorbed by my senses as if I was starved for Gods creation, the blue feathery skies, the yellow rolling sand dunes, the camels with their brightly coloured turbaned owners riding them into the horizon- all made Jaisalmer so very eternal for me.

The sights en route the next 10days captivated me so completely, they are part of my most treasured memories. The sea of yellow shimmering sands ,herds of cattle and sheep roaming around purposelessly ,the children trotting off to school, while their mothers dressed in the most gorgeous colours of clothing prepare their afternoon meal on a dung-fire. Underneath the star-studded sky, you feel the cool desert breeze and wonder about life in the untamed countryside of this fascinating desert.

The proud local tribes--- Bishnois, Bhils, shepherds, potters, weavers etc in their natural surroundings. The various varieties of desert wildlife-the bluebulls, gazelles, foxes, peacocks, partridges - a trip to this land of exotic ethnicity, the soil of the maharajas and the valiant Rajputs is guaranteed to leave an indelible impression in life forever. From the sand dunes to the massive forts, Jaisalmer,Rajasthan is a land of magical fantasies that remain a lifetime memory within the heart of a traveler for sure.

11 comments:

Brian said...

this is one place i'm eagerly looking forward to visit..

Jim said...

Jaisalmer is lovely in jan feb when the desert festival takes place- the Kalbelia dances and folk songs and music bring the soul alive

melinda said...

Jaisalmer the name means the Hill Fort of Jaisal, it is also called as the Golden city of India because the yellow sand gives a yellowish-golden touch to the city & its surrounding area- enchanting:)

sheila said...

Jaisalmer was one of the last states to sign a treaty with the British. During the British Raj, Jaisalmer was the seat of a princely state of the same name, ruled by the Bhati clan of rajputs. The present descendant is Brijraj Singh. Though the city is under the governance of the Government of India, a lot of welfare work is carried out by him and his family. The Royal Family still commands a lot of respect from the people

ashish said...

the rajasthanis have a traditional rhetoric of 'padharo mahare desh' (welcome to our lands)- one of the telly serials too uses this song, pretty reflective of the warmth they demonstrate when welcoming guests into their land:)

gita said...

Isn't patwon ki haveli gorgeous?:) I went beserk shooting it from all angles!:)

Hope you got good food thr, am sure it musta been a feast everyday

sanjiv said...

I guess this was the Paints film shoot right?:) how lovely!! Envy you all such travel;)

Shweta said...

This post is beautiful. Helps me relive my memories of rajasthan really. Tho at times I feel sad for this state as illiteracy and ignorance have cast such a shadow of orthodoxy n pessism and tourism competition is so fierce that people don't seem to stop n think nomore. Girl child killing is rampant. Females still live behind long ghoghhats. Its a vry inequitable state.

Mike said...

Dal Bati ( dipped in ghee) , Churma, Bharta ( made out of potato) & Chutney, Ker Sangri & Papad ki Kadi, also Bajree Cheela and Mircha and not to forget pyaaz ke Kachodas...what divine heaven!:)

ALLEX said...

it is just like a dream..... i am sure you must have enjoyed it

Little Miss said...

Your description of Jaisalmer makes me want to pack right now and visit, it sounds like a lovely place, regrettably the technicalities :)