India
Jaisalmer

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  • Day38

    Jaisalmer

    January 11, 2019 in India ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    We've spent the past few days in Jaisalmer, an old trading city at one of the ends of the Silk Road. Once thriving, it boasts a huge sandstone fortress built on a Bluff surrounded by the Thar desert. Many of its inhabitants were wealthy in the time before the Raj. They built beautiful homes called havelis with intricate detailing carved into the sandstone.

    On our first day we wandered from our Kaku guest house up to the fort. The place was filled with Indian tourists. One Jaisalmerian explained that they come to take camel safaris into the desert. They ride camels to base camps in the dunes that are set up with hot water, tents, and cots. "The Indian tourist is not like the European or American tourist, they need their niceties. The foreigners like roughing it a bit." Several Indians asked us to take selfies with them as we sat and people watched.

    Inside we happened on an artist painting meditaively in the doorway of his gallery. He works in a variety of media using antique paper, cotton, and camel bone. Beautiful and intricate work. His pieces take anywhere from a day to several months to complete. We returned on our last day to buy two pieces. One for Grace's 90th birthday in August and one for ourselves. Kamal Swami also holds a masters in sanskrit. The piece that we bought for Grace has a sanskrit border which translates, "A good life is like a lotus flower held in the hand until it opens. If one is giving, then happiness will come to them in the later years." The border on our piece is in Urdu. He said that he had a friend translate it to make sure that it "didn't anything stupid." He talked at length about his art and its purpose in his life. He shared that he'd once been summoned by an emissary of the Majaraja of Jaisalmer to one of the closed galleries in the palace to look at the artwork on the walls and ceilings. He was asked to do restoration of the work. He declined the invitation. "It is not how I work. It is not what I do. Each piece is its own once it is done." Several days later the Maharaja asked him to come to his country house at 10:30 in the morning. He arrived and was "seated on a nice sofa and given chai." "First it was 11 o'clock, then 11:30, then noon. Finally it was lunch time and I expressed my regrets and went home." Later I met the Maharaja at a charity event. He said, "You are the one I have invited twice and you didn't come. I shared what my father had told me; that the light from a lamp in a regular house gives the same light when the lamp is in the palace."

    Grace's piece is a very special work. He changed his approach to mimic the traditional mud wall painting of the Thar. The women mix dung and mud to build mud walled houses in the villages in the area. The color is very deep. They then make paints from crushed minerals in the area to decorate the homes and low frontage walls of the home. Kamal depicted a different setting from his usual work to set off the background. The rest will have to wait until Grace's 90th birthday, but the effect on the subject is lovely.

    Next we're on to Jodhpur. We've changed up the schedule a bit. After a couple of days, we're then off to Udaipur. A few days there and we fly to Varanasi where Nancy will spend lots of time exploring and taking photos while I relax in the Inn that we've booked overlooking the Ganges. Unless I decide to take a special side trip to witness and take part in Kumbh Mela, the greatest gathering of people in human history.

    Could be interesting.
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  • Day58

    Night in the dessert raaaahhhh

    January 9 in India ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    This was the coolest thing evaaa

    With a lovely group of 5 including ourselves We took a jeep to an oasis first, then an abandoned village and then we got on some camels and rode into the dessert!

    Had traditional Indian snacks and some games of cards; some beers while watching sunset ; and a lovely thali for dinner around the fire. Had some cheeky rum and more games around the fire and then bed time. We slept outside on the floor, under a beautiful sky of stars and woke up to see sunrise with a cup of chai! Then a ride back to the jeep on the camels and then out for some lunch with our comrades. Nice bunch and really beautiful experience!
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  • Day57

    Exhausted enjoyment

    January 8 in India ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    Our lack of rest is catching up to us, feeling a bit under the weather. So just resting for now. Beautiful desert town, with lunch within the Fort walls with amazing city view. Dinner also within the Fort in a tiny bookstore with a cafe in the back. Lucky we're at the end of our trip cause we couldn't resist buying a few books!Read more

  • Day192

    Jaisalmer

    November 14, 2017 in India ⋅ 🌙 10 °C

    We caught a very early train to Jaisalmer and managed to get in a sleeper car so were able to relax in relative comfort for most of the 6 hour trip. The last time we were in India we spent many, many days and nights traveling on India Rail, so it was a very familiar experience.
    Jaisalmer is a much smaller town than Jodphur and even closer to the Pakistan border. We spent an afternoon exploring a military museum that helped us to better understand the history of the Indian military and some of the border wars they’ve successfully fought with Pakistan and China (including some insane conditions high in the Himalayas). They have a huge border to protect and pour incredible resources into this effort. The military presence is everywhere in this part of India and we saw very large convoys of tanks and patrolling jets while visiting this area.
    The dominant feature in the town is a beautiful hilltop fort. Built in the 12th century, it’s one of the oldest occupied walled cities in the world. We had a great guide who spent a day showing us around the Fort and part of the new town. The fact that people still live within the city walls somehow makes it easier to imagine how life may have been several hundred years ago. People here are very proud of their heritage, and rightfully so. The city is truly spectacular and the detail and beauty of the sandstone carved buildings surpasses anything we've seen elsewhere in India.
    People here have been incredibly warm and friendly. One night after returning to our hotel after enjoying dinner at a rooftop restaurant, we had a knock on our door. It turns out that Christy had left her iphone at the restaurant and the manager had ridden his motor bike through the city to return it to us, despite it being worth many months of most people’s salary here in India.
    We’d considered doing a multi-day camel trek through the Thar desert, but in the end decided for a shorter trip of a few hours. Phew, within minutes of getting on our camels we both realized that camels are not particularly comfortable to ride AND they are enormous and a little terrifying. In any case, we very much enjoyed a few hours with the camels, seeing the Thar desert and enjoying sunset over the dunes.
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  • Day16

    Jaisalmer

    January 8, 2017 in India ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    We made it to India! 🇮🇳

    Coming to India played a large part of our second trip's itinerary as this is Mitch's first time here. Although Mitch has been immersed in the Indian culture over the years, seeing it first hand was definitely an experience we couldn't miss. We landed in Ahmedabad and got one day to recover from the busy Egypt, UAE and Oman schedule at my uncle's house where we'll spend some time later, however first we chose to do some sightseeing in the state of Rajasthan with my parents who decided to come to India as well.

    Our first stop was Jaisalmer a city close to the boarder of Pakistan known for its desert scenery and its position on the Silk Road. Merchants of the city traded spices, opium, nuts and much more to become very wealthy. One merchant in particular dominated the city's trading business and spent his money to create such detailed homes with hand crafted balconies typical to that region for him and his sons also known as a havelies. These were impressive to see for their beauty and unique architecture.

    Jaisalmer is also known for its fort like many other cities in India which were ruled by regional kings. This fort however is different in that it's still inhabited but not by the king! The city has given the fort to the local people to live in and it's occupied by homes, hotels, restaurants and shops. We got to walk around which was fun seeing a glimpse into the daily life of these people.

    However all this aside the most fascinating thing we learned about Jaisalmer was that it was only developed with electricity, water and roads in 1965! Although progress has been made since then there is a lot of work to be done in the city to bring it to modern times. Driving through small villages was interesting and eye opening to see how people still live in the year 2017. Many of these village people were definitely fascinated by Mitch as was Mitch of their roaming cows and sheep!
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  • Day9

    Jaisalmer Desert Frolic

    February 23, 2019 in India ⋅ ☁️ 22 °C

    We left Delhi’s chaotic six lane freeways, usually with vehicles ten across, and flew into Jaisalmer, where the road to the airport is a single lane only.

    There was no one there to meet us. Steve had his phone stolen, either from the taxi or the hotel. Off to a great start to our Rajasthan sector.

    Then we bought some beer and wine to take up to a sunset viewing area only to find we weren’t allowed to bring it onto the property - things were getting better and better, and the sunset wasn’t all that flash anyway.

    So we drank our beers and our wine - from plastic cups - in our ten seater bus and generally tried to put the day behind us.

    Jaisalmer celebrates the Desert Festival each February with signature events such as turban tieing contests and a tug of war. They also select their finest example of manhood to be crowned Mr Desert, and we had the absolute honour of being shown around the city by Vijay, Mr Desert 2013! At least, that’s how big a deal he made it out to be when he was telling us.

    He was also a teacher, an actor and, in his world at least, a movie star. He proudly showed us the photos of his 2013 victory that were still on display throughout the Jaisalmer Fort.

    Actually, Vijay was more into promoting his beloved Desert Festival than promoting himself, and he was a great guide, knowledgeable, easy to understand and personable.

    He took us to the Lake, built by the wife of the King for water storage and typical of peaceful Indian lakes. This means the shore was covered in rubbish and we seemed to spend a lot of time dodging vendors, cows and lactating dogs.

    We then walked up into the fort, built on a large hill and very imposing in the relatively flat country of the Thar Desert. We visited a Jain Temple and were astonished at the quality and detail of the stonework.

    We visited a coffee shop perched right on the very top of the wall of the fort, reached by a step set of stairs that the owner somehow climbs all day without spilling a drop.

    We visited a haveli, an old residence in the heart of the fort, which former prime minister Mrs Ghandi thought so photogenic she had some buildings knocked down opposite so as to give a better view.

    Late in the afternoon some of the intrepid travellers drove out to the Sam Sand Dunes for a spot of camel riding, an enjoyable pastime for all, except maybe the camels!

    Jaisalmer was smaller and dirtier than we expected; next we head back east to Jodhpur and, we assume, more civilisation.
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  • Day20

    Wüste zur Pakistanischen Grenze

    January 12, 2019 in India ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Noch vor 2 Monaten hätte ich jeden für verrückt erklärt, der mich für eine Kameltour durch Indiens Nordwesten nahe an Pakistan begeistern wollte.... heute haben wir genau das getan! Und es hat sich gelohnt, diese aussergewöhnliche Landschaft auf einem schaukeligen Kamelrücken zu entdecken. Nach dem Sonnenuntergang in der Wüste ging es in ein Kamel-Camp in dem wir zu volkloristischen Gesangs- und Tanzdarbietungen die lokale Küche genossen. Erstaunlich wie schnell die Temperatur hier nach Sonnenuntergang abfällt und die Kälte in unsere Knochen kroch, trotz eines Lagerfeuers, Schal und Pullover. (Tomek)

    Przed dwoma miesiącami zadeklarował bym każdego, kto zaproponuje mi wycieczkę na wielbłądach przy pakistańskiej granicy, za wariata... dziś dokładnie w tym uczestniczyliśmy. I opłacało się obejrzeć tą surową okolicę z bujającego grzbietu wielbłąda. Po zachodzie słońca na pustyni dotarliśmy do obozu, gdzie zaprezentowano nam folklorystyczny program z tańcem i muzyką przy tradycyjnej kolacji. Zadziwiające, jak szybko spada tu temperatura po zachodzie słońca. Mimo ogniska, swetrów i szala zimno dało nam w kość.
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  • Day18

    Vergangener Glanz Jaisalmers

    January 10, 2019 in India ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Nach einer langen Überfahrt eilten wir neugierig in die Altstadt von Jaisalmer um die im Reiseführer gepriesenen, wunderschönen Steinmetzarbeiten der Wüstenstadt zu bewundern. Von den alten Häuser existieren ganze 3 , die einer Erwähnung würdig sind. Der Rest der Altstadt besteht aus chaotischen Nachbauten, Halbruinen und allgegenwärtigen Touri- Läden. Diese Stadt stinkt und ich mag mir nicht vorstellen, wie es hier im Sommerhitze auszuhalten ist. Unser Hotel ist von seinen 3 Sternen so weit entfernt, wie die nächste Galaxie von unserer. Aber das koreanische Essen im Hotelrestaurant und der grandiose Blick auf die " golden city" tröstet uns ein wenig. (Agata)

    Po długiej podróży podążylismy na stare miasto podziwiać zalecane w przewodniku dzieła sztuki kamieniarskiej. Z tych starych zabytków egzystują zaledwie 3 godne wspomnienia. Reszta miasta składa się z chaotycznych duplikatów, półruin i wszechobecnych turystycznych sklepików. To miasto śmierdzi i nie mam ochoty wyobrażać sobie, jak tu jest w lato przy 45-ciu stopniach. Nasz hotel oddalony jest od swoich 3 gwiazdek jak następna galaktyka. Ale pocieszamy się dobrym koreańskim jedzeniem i pięknym widokiem na " złote miasto" z hotelowej restauracji.
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  • Day19

    Golden City

    January 11, 2019 in India ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Der Name bezieht sich auf die Farbe des Sandsteins, aus dem das Fort und die drin befindliche Häuser gebaut sind. Wie schon in der Altstadt drum herum gibt es nicht vieles, das erhalten geblieben ist. Das Gelände des Forts ist komplett zugebaut, lebten die alten Bewohner doch von Raub und Opiumhandel, so dass es besser war hinter mächtigen Mauern zu sitzen. Sehenswert waren die Jain- Tempel, die aus einem Komplex von 7 ineinandergehenden Tempeln bestehen. Der alte Palast bot nicht viel ausser einen schönen Blick über die Stadt und die Wüste. ( Agata)

    Nazwa " złote miasto" pochodzi od koloru piaskowca, z którego zbudowana jest forteca i domy, które wypełniają praktycznie całą jej powierzchnię. Gęste zabudowanie wynikało z faktu, że podstawą bytu mieszkańców był rabunek i handel opium, czyli lepiej było się schować za potężnymi murami. Najbardziej podobał nam się kompleks siedmiu świątyń zwanych Jain- Tempel. Stary pałac nie jest godny zainteresowania poza świetnym widokiem na miasto i pustynię.
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Jaisalmer

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