Jaisalmer - the Golden City of India
May 11, 2019
by Aleksandra Haliciu
India’s marvellous landscapes, colours and culture are like a melody for those avid travellers that want to discover the unique, the untouched. A melody that has lots of ups and downs, however, that always reaches a harmonious piece where everything is intertwined, where simplicity and splendour come together in the most contrasting ways. I have to say that I got quite fond of this melody, and even after four months that I have spent in this amazing country, I did not get enough of it. Looking back at the whole journey, the place where I felt like home most and where I promised to return is Jaisalmer, a little jewel in the desert, in the colourful state of Rajasthan, close to the border with Pakistan.
India – How to Know Where to Start?
India is tremendously big – and since its vastity could be so overwhelming, I believe that one should start with a guiding line to follow – whether you are into trekking, a search for a cultural-historical journey or even an inner journey into the spiritual sites and self-discovery. I have mostly done the latter and so I have mostly spent my time in the North. I have started in the south, in Kerala (Cochin, Allapuzha and Varkala) and Karnataka, and eventually flew to Delhi and continued with Dehradun, Rishikesh and McLeod Ganj (Dharamsala), where I followed a yoga training, went for a silent retreat, Buddhist course and attended an independent film festival. However, my journey could not have finished without actually getting to the wild and coloured Rajasthan – the land of the forts and palaces – mainly contained by the Thar Desert, still the home of so many ancient nomadic tribes along with their music and dancing heritage. I went from Jaipur, known as the Pink City – to Pushkar, followed by Jodhpur ( where I went to the best folk music festival ever – RIFF Jodhpur Festival), and eventually ended up in Jaisalmer. Although I have spent around two weeks around Rajasthan, I did not have enough of any of the places I have been- so that says a lot!
Jaisalmer – the Desert City
The eight-hour trip went so fast as I was talking with a young Indian man, about to get married, that went to pray at a temple before the ceremony. We talked about life in his little village near Jaisalmer, about legends and Gods, about how life is so easy in its simplicity. It was a refreshing start, and when I arrived I have understood that yes – he was right – Jaisalmer is the desert city per excellence – low sandstone houses, the market with people of all colours and surrounded by camels and delicious smells. It surprised me by its cleanness and the slow-paced, more relaxed lifestyle that you don’t find everywhere in India. However, it was when I visited the fort that I fell in love – I felt like I got swept back in the past, as I was walking along the small boutiques, street vendors with books, coffee shops and hipster hostels – all placed on this high plateau with the most breathtaking views of the desert.
Highlights and Delights
I don’t know about you, but before going to India I did not know much about Rajasthan – besides its music, dances, colourful clothes and architecture – let alone about Jaisalmer, this Western, almost forgotten desert city. I cannot start to tell you how true it is – my days here seemed to me like remake scenes from Arabian Nights. And if you are a big fan of arts, handicrafts and spectacular sunrises – you are in the right place. Jaisalmer impressed me by its pace, its food ( honestly, don’t you even think of leaving the place without having tried ‘Pani Puri| (a typical Indian snack), the kindness of its people…and its impressive fort, which contains a royal palace and several Jain temples. I have taken a two-day tour in the desert, where we cooked our dinner under the stars and woke up with the sun upon my face. The guide, a man who has lived in the desert for all his life, was like a character from a Rushdie novel – he impressed me with his force of character and determination and reinforced my idea that simplicity is so precious and in our days, quite difficult to attain. Took his number and made a photo – just for later, when we will meet again…Because yes, I will, one day return to Jaisalmer.