First, the history lesson: Jaisalmer is a city in the Indian state of Rajasthan, located about 500 kms. west of the state capital, Jaipur. It is also known as ‘The Golden city’ because the yellow sand and the yellow sandstone used in the architecture of the city giving it an amber tinge. Once known as Jaisalmer state, it is a world heritage site. The town lies in the heart of the Thar (the great Indian desert) and stands on a ridge of yellowish sandstone, crowned by a fort, which contains the palace and several ornate Jain temples.
Now, the facts, and I’m going to keep it short and simple: Do not visit Jaisalmer as a tourist but imbibe its true flavours instead as a traveller. What’s the difference, you may ask…well, essentially that means ‘dump the predictable itinerary of the tour guide’ and instead, choose to make your own … In my opinion, the real fun lies in exploring this small city on foot. The ‘gullies’ (streets) are narrow, follow considerably low standards of hygiene and cleanliness (welcome to most of India) but manage to magically throw surprises at you at various turns! Expect to encounter some of the finest hand carved Havelis, hobnob with locals with moustaches meant for the Guinness book, shop for fine handicrafts, puppets and embroideries at a bargain, dodge an assortment of cows and bulls, take in a variety of dancers and singers and finally, revel in the grandeur of the fort (which incidentally houses half a city within its belly) …and if this is sounding more and more like a surrealistic film setting, its because it nearly is (specially at sunset)!
So what do I like about this city? It’s actually the size itself…its intimacy makes it easily discoverable and once you’re done with the city, there’s much to take in around the city such as the dunes of the great Thar, a drive on the legendary Silk route and the rumoured-to-be-haunted village Kuldhara.
The mystery beckons… don’t hold back.
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