By Anusha Goel, Batch of 2018
“Kesariya balam aaonee
Padharonee mare des”
Like an Arabian Night fable, amidst sloping sand dunes, and majestic havelis, one is welcomed to the regal and opulent cities of Jaisalmer and Jodhpur. A world heritage site, the crowned city of Jaisalmer was built by Maharawal Jaisal Singh and has been long celebrated by bards as the ‘golden’ citadel. The bustling ‘Sun City’,Jodhpur ,once formed the state ‘Marwar’ , was founded by Rao Jodha.
I was excited at the very prospect of standing amidst this age old heritage and visited these cities during the festive season of Dussehra.
If you are royalty and have the money to splurge, then the luxury train ‘Palace on Wheels’ is the way to go as it crosses both the cities on its route.
But, as a college student, one learns how to be street smart and get by. So, I chose to travel to Jodhpur by Mandore Express. The first thing that greeted me as I stepped out of the Jodhpur station was the towering and majestic Mehrangarh Fort, which can be seen from every part of the city. An enthusiastic auto driver made me acquainted with popular spots in the city as we were scouring for a perfect place for my stay. Finally, the beautiful haveli guest house, ‘Blue House’, seemed just right and value for money. After a quick nap, I decided to explore the fort. The Mehrangarh fort, with its ramparts lined with antique artillery, offered a panoramic view of the “Blue City”, which definitely left me spellbound. For an adrenaline- rush, seize the opportunity to go zip-lining at North side of Fort. (A tip: Have a heavy breakfast before trekking as this is one of the largest forts and is an uphill climb, too.)
After this long fort-trek, Jaswant Thada proved to be a peaceful place to relax and capture the quintessential photographs for my social media fad. The white, intricately crafted cenotaph in honor of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II, gives a glimpse of the era of Rajput heroism. By the end of our tour, I was famished and I gladly savored the regional specialities such as ker sangria, kadi pakora, mirchi bada, and bhanon aloo and satiated my sweet tooth with maakhan vada. Next on my list was the Umaid Bhawan Palace and Mandore gardens. One of the most magnificent palaces in India, Umaid Bhawan Palace, with its grandeur and history, takes you back to the lifestyle of the Maharajas of yesteryears. With a museum and vintage car collection, it is a must see heritage site.
Next on my list was the Mandore gardens, which houses an old fort, an eclectic collection of temples and cenotaphs, and a small museum. If you love monkeys unlike me, you’ll find plenty here. After much sightseeing, it was turn for the shopaholic in me to go on a shopping spree. Shopping till dusk for lac bangles, Mathaniya’s red chillies, and bandhini at Sojati Gate, Tripolia Bazaar and Mochi Bazaar for the innumerable relatives, was truly a sating experience.
Tip: Keep a quarter of your budget for above.
After my tryst with Jodhpur, it was Jaisalmer’s turn.
I decided to travel all the way to Jaisalmer via the Jodhpur – Jaisalmer Express. Traversing through the deserts and trees under the moonlit sky was a midnight delight. After an exhausting train journey, the rooms of the Hotel Shahi Palace gave the most amicable welcome and service. After freshening up, the first place had to be the Jaisalmer Fort. Ranked amongst the largest forts in the world, the fort rises from the desert sands like a mirage, and was a real sight from my hotel balcony. Known as the “living fort”, it is a colorful and vibrant city in itself. For all the shopaholics, do buy souvenirs and hats for your friends and family. (Tip: Get a good bargaining companion and generally start the bargain with half the price the shop has asked to pay). After a day’s travel to fort, my evening was booked for the much- awaited Camel Safari. What’s the first image that comes to one’s head when they think of Rajasthan? Well, consider that to be the reason behind my wish to get the Camel ride off the checklist.
The barren, golden sand of Thar, expanding as far as eyes can see; bonfire driving away the darkness; camels paving their way on large sand dunes; women clad in multihued lehengas and men with their taanpooras mesmerizing everyone with their folk jingles- the atmosphere propelled me to match a step or two with the “ghoomar” dancers, giving the perfect end to my desert safari.
Gathering a whole bunch of grand and magical memories with me, I left the city recalling those precious moments.
These otherwise quiet and sparsely populated cities come to life during their fairs and festivals. The Jaisalmer bustles with its annual Desert Festival in months of January- February while The Kite Festival, Marwar Festival and Nagaur Fair bring life to Jodhpur. If you are looking for a paisa-vasool trip for a four day holiday, the twin sisters, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur offer more than desired.
Discover the royalty in you!