Jaisalmer, the last town on the Western front is a dream destination. While the first glimpse of the golden city with the glimmering fort perched on a hill top will fill your senses, the boundless desert sands of the “Thar” will transport you to another world. We drove out from Jaisalmer city towards SAM Sand Dunes, a good 40 kms away. There are some beautiful resorts and sites on the way. In fact, Kuldhara the deserted village of the Paliwals, Bada Bagh the Chattris of the royal kings and princes, Ludurva the ancient Jain Temples are all on the way. It may be a good idea to start early from Jaisalmer, visit the sites and reach SAM around 4 pm.
As you approach SAM, there are a lot of tented accommodation promising cultural shows, musical soirees, star gazing , great food et al. However, from my brief peek into the facilities, it appeared to be a stripped down version of what I had experienced in Rann of Kutch and far cry from the luxury of Shaam e Sarhad. Naah, I was glad I had chosen to return to Jaisalmer late evening. Camel Cart Rides and Camel Rides begin from this point and you need to really negotiate hard for a good deal.
We opted for dune bashing in an open jeep (Rs 2500- it may be less if you book directly and not through the hotel) and for the next 30 minutes, as the driver navigated through the rolling sands, it was an experience by itself !! My sleepy intestines were jolted from hibernation, my stomach churned and I broke into uncontrollable peels of laughter enjoying every moment of the dramatic adventure. He dropped us off in the middle of the desert to watch the sunset over a cup of tea. There were Camel Rides available from here as well for Rs 50/ Rs 100 based on the duration and distance.
The next 1 hour was sheer fun, watching camel camaraderie, families bond and photographers like me kneeling at different angles to get the mood right as the sun turned crimson red and slowly slipped away into the distant horizon. I sat there lost in the moment, staring at my uneven footsteps in the warm desert sand wondering about the possibilities that life presents at every moment. I chatted with a young local boy, who was not even sure of his age!! lovingly tending to his camel and narrating his daily routine. Its a tough life out there, with little to eat and drink and yet be ever smiling. I did not venture on a camel ride for the fear of the jerk on my tender back but that Rs 100/- that you spend may just fetch a smile, few drops of water and a full meal to someone out there……………….
Travel Tip: October to March is the best time for Jaisalmer. The festival held in January attracts people from world over. Nearest airport is Jodhpur and it is about a 2 hour drive on exceptionally smooth roads to Jaisalmer. While there are many resorts and upmarket hotels, would recommend a night halt in a quaint little home stay within the fort.
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