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Jaisalmer - a golden desert city

Written on: Sunday March 8th, 2009

A journal entry from: Trails in 2008

This is more like it! We are back to a nice picturesque city with friendly locals and a laid back pace.


We are about 100kms from the Pakistan border but there's no connecting route through from here.  This town existed because of the ancient trade routes but Mumbai port eventually took this role and now they rely mainly on tourists.  So it's a bit of a struggle for them at the moment, the Mumbai bombings in November have deterred a lot of people right at the peak season, and this town is feeling the pinch.  Good for us though, we can get more for our rupees and fewer tourists make a nicer experience.


This fort is even better than the Jodhpur one, especially when visiting in the afternoon when temples are closed so it is practically a ghost town.  I have finally found some culturally appropriate attire and I feel much more comfortable with a bit more skin covered and also a lighter fabric to survive this heat, which is still mid 30's.

Our hotel is located in the cows favourite street, which makes it rather pongy and also a popular hangout for flies.  There are a lot of cows in this town, but they are loved by the locals.  Some peoples concreted terraces out the front of their house have a little feeding/drinking trough, and we saw one lady giving a cow a nice face wash.

Sunday morning is obviously the day for cleaning down your front terrace, and the afternoon is for doing the laundry on it - all by women or course, although we have noticed that Indian men are out working hard and not sitting around sipping tea/coffee/alcohol while the women are slogging it out, like most places we've been to in our travels.

There's 15cm of annual rain here, so it's a hard place to live.  What a vision to see the town surrounded by wind farms as I got to the fort tower lookout!  They power the night lights that illuminate the fort, and to supply the needs of the big army base here (presumably to protect their border with Pakistan - who they love to hate and debate).  In our innocence, we did not realise that Pakistan and Bangladesh were also part of India until Independence in the 40's when some British guy had the onerous task of carving it up somewhere along the blurry lines of where the majority of the Hindus and Muslims lived.  There is much interesting coverage in the media about the slippery slope Pakistan has gone down, and how India must be determined not to follow.  To our eyes it looks like Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs live together nicely - in fact the ex-Prime Minister's son campaigning in the South was just filmed speaking negatively about Muslims and has been kicked out of the party.


We've met some fantastic people in this town, they have time to chat which is my favourite holiday activity!  The middle aged clothes shop lady who moved to this dry town from her home near the beach for an arranged marriage, the guy passionate in his hatred for plastic bags and spitting, and the camel driver who fell in love with a German tourist telling of his attempts to visit Germany but they have no need for his two main skills - driving camels and making chai.