My trip to Rajasthan has been way too short, and although I’ve visited many cities, I feel like I haven’t properly experienced them. I’m aware I say this every time I come back from a trip, which can make me appear either a very bad traveler, or a very demanding one. While I obviously hope to fall into the second category, in the Rajasthan case it’s true, I didn’t have time to stay for more than ten days, so the agency I had booked did its best to make me visit as much as I could.
Whoever has visited the Rajasthan or any local living there will tell you that ten days is absolutely not enough. Just a couple of days ago, the local guide I’ve had in Jaisalmer told me I couldn’t manage to see what the village life is like, and this is such a pity, as it’s precisely what I like when I travel. Along with all the rest…
Before entering the Rajasthan state, I visited Agra, or better, the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort, and I thought that was okay as I don’t think I would have liked staying in Agra any longer. But once in the Rajasthan, constantly hopping on and off the car and changing city every day proved to be too much. I agree I wouldn’t have visited so many places, but I stayed with the afterthought that maybe slower would have meant better quality.
Now I wish I had spent more time in the pink city, Jaipur, in the blue city, Jodhpur, and especially in the golden city, Jaisalmer that, as I mentioned in the title, was probably my favorite place of all Rajasthan.
I have spent in Jaisalmer two days, which is probably why I grew more impressed with it, instead of the other cities where I only spent one day in each. My driver had lived thirteen years in Jaisalmer before moving to Delhi, so he knew the city intimately and had many friends there. During our tour we met some of them, and this made the visit look more like a friends’ gathering than a proper tourist trip.
Jaisalmer has a Fort which can be considered its soul. In fact, although the city is full of beautiful monuments, temples and havelis, the fort will immediately dominate the scene and capture your attention.
According to the Indian Government website, “Jaisalmer Fort was built in 1156 and is the second oldest in the state of Rajasthan. Two hundred and fifty feet tall and reinforced by an imposing crenellated sandstone wall 30 feet high, the fort has 99 bastion, 92 of which were built between 1633 and 1647”.
Almost one quarter of the town’s population actually lives inside the fort, so it’s possible for tourists to visit the monuments and appreciate local life at the same time.
Being the Fort the heart of the city, and being closed to car traffic all day, obviously made it more silent and less messy than all the other Indian cities I had visited (I hadn’t gone to Uttarakhand, so I had yet to discover than in India too it’s possible to find quiet spots), and staying at a lovely hotel inside the Fort itself (Desert Boy guest house) made me truly appreciate the beauty of the place.
I have visited many temples and havelis in Jaisalmer, and the first thing that will strike you is that all of them make the city “glow” thanks to the golden yellow sandstone used to build the fort and all other buildings.
Visiting the city and the beautiful Thar desert just outside will inevitably make your trip unforgettable.
Huge thanks to Pappu Joshi, my local tour guide in Jaisalmer, for showing me around and enriching the trip with precious gems about culture, religion and the complex Indian society only natives know of. In case you want to contact him, his email is email@example.com and his mobile number +91 9460807909.