Though it’s topography is tough and difficult but the denizens of this land are culturally rich, traditionally opulent and well-off. I am talking about India’s Desert Region- Thar. We are well aware of Rajasthan’s bounteous culture and its color, but we must thank the inhabitants of the place who have still maintained the galore while living in such resilient land.
I planned a visit to Jaisalmer and after confirming my tickets and booking, I outlined that I would touch Bikaner, Jaisalmer, and Tanot in the four-day long weekend.
After reaching Bikaner at around 7:00 am, I planned my entire day to pay a visit to the local sightseeing. My trip started with the famous Junagarh Fort. Its exemplary architecture makes it worth a visit. The fort showcases the grandeur of the kings of ancient times. Bikaner per se is a princely city adorned with beautiful wall paintings rendering an artistic and eye catching character to the city.
The famous Laxmi Niwas Palace, built in accordance with the British Architecture is a must visit. Apart from the monuments, the food is another highlight of the city. Having heard a lot about it, I finally feasted on the famous Kachori of Bikaner. After paying the visit to almost every tourist spot, I moved to the next destination- “Jaisalmer”.
I took a bus from the Bikaner terminal and kick-started my journey. The landscape kept on changing from greenery to untilled piece of land. The roads were dusty, I felt like I was travelling through prairie. After a 6 hour journey, I reached the golden city. By then it was getting dark and I booked a hotel and called it a night.
Day-2: Jaisalmer, The Golden City
The morning hauled off with the beautiful view of the fort just from the window. I saw lorries and trucks of water pipes distributing water to the different hotels and residences. The two views were quite contrasted but reflected the hard truth of the people staying in the arid land.
After this episode, I planned my visit to Kuldhara and booked an auto for it. Kuldhara village was known as the haunted village of Jaisalmer; now one can only find remains of the houses there. I interacted with Salim, 11, a shepherd by profession who sang the saga of the village.
The next stop was Bada Bagh Cenotaphs. The place is known for its beautiful architecture. The cenotaphs are built just near to the wind farm. After exploring these, I moved towards the city to visit local places like the famous Jain Temple, Gadisar Lake, Paton ki haveli. Having visited the important landmarks, I decided a visit to Longewala! Yes, the same place where our soldiers fought bravely in the war of 1971.
I took a bus to Tanot from the bus station. After a two hour drive, I was in the border village of Tanot that was mostly acquired by the BSF (Border security force). There are no hotels in the village so I had a sole option of staying in a dharamshala that houses devotees of Tanot Mata Mandir. Tanot Mata Mandir is a temple in the border area. It is said that during the battle of 1965, the Pakistan army dropped over 3000 bombs in the temple but none exploded. This temple from then has gained immense faith among the villagers. After keeping the bags in the dharamshala I went to take a stroll around the village.
The border village was extremely beautiful, and as the evening approached, the winds blew stronger blowing sand across the horizon. While I was moving around the village I met the village school teacher, Mr. Nehchala Ram who invited me to his house. We spoke at length about Delhi, Jaisalmer, the condition of students in Tanot, the two battles. Mr. Ram shared all his experiences starting from the village’s foundation, the India Pakistan border friendship and the disputes. He asked me if I could help him repair his television (the only source of entertainment in the village), with despair. The warm welcome by his family was the best I could get from my travel. His daughter packed some delicious Ghee Ladoos and a Coconut and asked me to send letters or talk over phone from Delhi [Which I do regularly]. I took the mobile number of her father and asked them if I could bid farewell. Mr. Nehchala helped me with the path, as the village was dark by then and strong winds covered the small route with sand. I left the family with a heavy heart. After sharing such lovely moments I had tears in my eyes with the thought of leaving Tanot the next morning. I reached to BSF camp and had my dinner and walked towards the dharamshala to get a good sleep.
Day 3: Tanot to Jaisalmer
I boarded the only bus from Tanot and returned to Jaisalmer, but my heart still longed for Tanot and the beautiful family that hosted me. But, I convinced myself and boarded the bus and moved away. After a 2 hour journey, I reached Jaisalmer again. My first stop on the city was the fort that enjoys a place among UNESCO World Heritage Site. I tried to make a plan to visit Sam Sand Dunes, but the local guides charged over and above.
After finding a decent deal on a package I agreed as I wasn’t left with any option. The place was commercialized and nobody was allowed to visit the place by themselves. So by 4:00 in the evening, I went to Sam Sand Dunes, took my first camel ride and moved around the beautiful desert.
As the sun set, a small gathering was organized wherein I got an opportunity to enjoy Rajasthani Folk Music and Dance. Dinner was served soon after the gathering and then I departed off to the city to board the train.
My trip to Jaisalmer was a mix of experiences- while it was overwhelming to meet the people of Tanot, it was gruesome to handle the tour agents in Jaisalmer. I was about to leave the city when I was again struck with a new problem of getting a cab at the wee hour.
Suddenly a car passed by he offered to drop me at the railway station for Rs. 100. I agreed and got in his car. Once we arrived at the station he refused to take the money and said, “you were alone, so I offered you help. If at that time I wouldn’t have said that I am a driver and will charge you money for the ride, you would’ve said no, and at this hour it is difficult to get cabs in Jaisalmer. I am a hostel owner and I want you to take some really good and golden experience from the golden city!”
With this, I left the city with nothing but the beautiful memories in my mind and the love of the people in my heart.
Read more about Jaipur
Here’s a glimpse:
- Few Journeys Restore The Faith In Mankind - February 8, 2018
- It’s Not The Mountains I Conquered But It’s The Region That Conquered Me - February 8, 2018