Sept 2012, I planned a 10 day trip to the Glorious Rajasthan with my husband and parents. We decided to visit Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Mount Abu, and Jaisalmer. The main reason for choosing this state of India was to tick off an item from my mother’s bucket list. So, we boarded an overnight train from Chandigarh to Jaipur.
I was amazed to see the diversity of this state. From the rich history to the architectural heritage, from the majestic forts and palaces to the carved temples and beautiful lakes, from the splendid Havelis to the rich wildlife, from the scenic Aravali to the marvelous sand dunes, Rajasthan has everything to offer.
After exploring the exquisite cities of Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur and the only hill station in this state, Mount Abu, we finally arrived the most awaited and last destination of the trip, Jaisalmer. We had just one day in this city which we reserved completely for the sand dunes as we had enough share of palaces and forts during our trip. As we wanted to get a flavor of the golden city, we visited the narrow lanes which looked like no less than a maze where we were lost a couple of times. While strolling, we ended up at the most famed Havelis in Jaisalmer, so we decided to check them out.
Patwon Ki Haveli:
A combination of 5 structures, it is the largest haveli in the golden city. I was highly impressed to see the 5 storeyed Haveli quite tastefully built and intricately designed. It has 5 huge well-decorated suites and the entire building is made up of yellow sandstone. The large and airy corridors, beautifully embellished walls and the entire grandeur of this monument was the treat to eyes. There was another Haveli located nearby so we decided to discover that too.
Nathmalji Ki Haveli:
This haveli has an interesting story which our driver narrated to us. The construction of this magnificent architecture was carried out by two brothers who started building it simultaneously from the opposite ends. They had a bit of a competitive edge and as they struggled with uniformity, the building ended up in an irregular shape. The elephant carvings on the yellow sandstones were notable. The carved exteriors and beautiful interiors of the monument were amazing. This Haveli is an amalgamation of Rajput and Mughal architecture and is truly a sight to visit. We bought a few puppets and exquisite handicrafts, had lunch and left for the desert.
A solitary experience in the Sam Sand Dunes
In another hour, we were at the Sam Sand Dunes of Jaisalmer. It was the most desirable part of our journey. We took camel safari from the point the taxi dropped us. An interesting point to note was the names of our camels – Michael Jackson and Hrithik Roshan. We were fascinated with the first sight of the golden beauty and the blue sky. It was quite picturesque. We reached around 3 pm and were the only tourist at that time but which was a big plus. We enjoyed the safari in our private desert which was the best way to explore the royal and rustic Jaisalmer. It was quite an exciting, adventurous and memorable ride.
Once we reached the sunset point, we got down in the golden sands and trekked in the desert. It was our first visit to the desert and was much better than we expected. All we could see was 30-60 meter tall sand dunes all around us. It was silky and slippery and all four of us were trekking in different directions and at times, were together too. We met a few locals there who were quite friendly.
The sunset view from the desert was absolutely breathtaking and the ripples caused by the strong winds were a unique sight. The raw beauty of the desert was captivating. As we had just one day in hand and had to catch our train back to Chandigarh, we could not experience camping or the evening cultural shows.
Kuldhara, the Haunted village
After almost 3 hours, we left towards the villages of Jaisalmer. Exploring those thatched huts and meeting the local villagers was a truly memorable experience. The villagers greeted us and we took many pictures together. The topic of discussion was mainly cricket and TV serial Balika Vadhu.
Later, We visited Kuldhara which is an abandoned village and said to be a haunted place. Not really a place for a faint-hearted like me as there was no one in sight except we four and our driver, who was narrating us the spooky stories of this village. The ruins of the buildings were intriguing and made a perfect backdrop for the pictures.
We saw an old worn out temple which my husband and mother decided to explore from inside while I sat in the car with my father. After 10 minutes, when both of them did not return, we were worried so I went to check on them. I dared to enter that temple and encountered an owl right on my face. I was mad at my husband and mother who were studying the details of the temple leisurely.
It was time to end our trip and head back to base leaving our footprints behind. This trip will always be close to my heart as it was the last vacation with my father. It was nice exposure to the architectural heritage of the most flamboyant state of India.