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A GOLDEN CITY & IT'S SANDCASTLE

Written on: Tuesday March 18th, 2008

A journal entry from: ASIA PART II

Jaisalmer, West Rajasthan

Hotel Peacock

India offers dramatic landscapes ranging from the soaring Himalayan peaks in the north to the verdant and lush backwaters in the south, from the west there is the bleak and barren Thar desert and to the east the isolated archipelago that dot the ocean waters. In addition to the endless string of coastal beaches, central plateaus, rolling foothills, great plains and everything else in between, it can satisfy any itinerary.

I arrived early this morning in Jaisalmer, also known as the Golden City. Everything is the color of yellow sand - the ground, the walls, the buildings, and the roads. Dominating the city, atop a hill is the magical fort that resembles a sandcastle rising into the horizon. The fort was built over 800 years ago and within its walls can be found; a labyrinth of streets and narrow walkways, an old palace, intricately sculpted Jain temples and beautifully preserved Havelis (mansions built by wealthy merchants). Of course, they must also cater to the tourists, so inside the fort there are also many hotels and guesthouses, shops, stalls and several restaurants all vying for our business. Jaisalmer is very near to the Pakistan border and, as such, there is substantial military presence everywhere - soldiers in their fatigues, jets flying overhead, troop lorries and tanks milling about.

From the rooftop of my hotel, I can see far into the distance where civilization ends and the inhospitable desert scape begins. The views are extraordinary at this height and I've been able to take in some of the marvelous sunrise and sunsets that I have obsessively fallen in love with. Tom and I have worked it out perfectly, our desert safari in sync with a full moon and we will be back just in time for Holi, the Indian Festival of Color.