A Quest for Golden Fort of Jaisalmer
When I joined my Post Graduation School at Delhi, I was super excited - not because a new course of study and a new degree was on my way but thinking that the huge treasure trove of Rajasthan, MP & UP was going to be within hours distance from me. It did not take me many weekends to plan the first solo trip and I could not think of anything else but Jaisalmer. Jaisalmer though lies thousands of miles away from my homeland, it is a place known to everyone there - the legendary writer and filmmaker Satyajit Ray have made the Golden Fort of Jaisalmer a bucket list for every Bengali through his suspense thriller.
I had my bag packed - a backpack (https://onebagvagabond.com/products/the-rustic-traveller) with only the essentials - a travel map, a notebook, my camera, chargers, adaptor plug (https://onebagvagabond.com/products/international-travel-adapter) and power bank. It is always an advantage of being a minimalist traveller and carrying optimum luggage. This gives huge flexibility in moving around and keeps you away from all worry of keeping the luggage. In a country where all public transport is crowded with people and their belongings - having a bulky companion is nothing less than a nightmare. I am proudly dealing with this problem in all my trips.
The journey started with the overnight bus journey to the Holy City of Pushkar. In fact, I reached Ajmer by the morning and took another bus to Pushkar. The city of Pushkar, resting at the foot of Aravalli Mountain around the holy lake, is a very pious city for the Hindus because there is the only temple of Brahma - The creator of the universe -in the whole world. The temple, considering the fact that it is unique, does not look impressive because it is small and not well maintained. The other important place in the city is the Savitri temple which requires a small treck of an hour. This temple, too, is not significant in terms of art or architecture but the trek is lovely because it gives a very good aerial view of the city and the lake - the views are really mesmerising.
By afternoon, I had seen Pushkar and had my lunch and headed back to Ajmer - another holy city but this time for the Muslims and to some extent the Jains. Ajmer is famous for the Dargah of the famous Sufi saint - Moinuddin Chisti but in fact, the city is much more than that. My journey to Ajmer started with the Ana Sagar Lake - a huge manmade dam at the centre of the city - the lake in the backdrop of the Aravalli Mountains is so soothing to the eyes that it was a favourite leisure spot for the Mughal Kings. The next was the Soniji ki Nasiya Jain temple - where a giant model of Ayodhya, a fictitious city as per Jain Mythology, is placed. The model is huge and built entirely with gold. The intricate detailing and amazing craftsmanship of the model are unbelievable. From there, I walked up to the top of the hill where a beautiful mosque- Adhai Din Ka Jhopra is located. This mosque believed to be built within two-and-half days also sets up beautifully in the backdrop of the Aravalli. The evening was spent at the Dargah enjoying Quawalli.
The same evening I reached Jodhpur by Bus. The next day, I started with the Umaid Bhawan Palace Museum. The Palace, built as a provision of relief work for the draught survivors of Jodhpur State is a superb piece of Victorian Architecture. The palace which was one of the largest palaces in the world is now partially converted into a five-star hotel keeping only a small part as a museum. The museum which showcases some rare pictures of the kings of the state, as well as items used by the royal family, has a marvellous collection of items. From there I headed towards the centre of the old city where a magnificent clock tower is located around which the market is spread. There, I had the most delicious Lassi in my life and moved inside the narrow alleys of the blue city. Here, the roads, the walls, the doors, the balconies, everything is painted in blue and that creates a heavenly feeling while moving around them. The narrow lanes of the blue city eventually took me to the Mehrangarh Fort, the fort of Jodhpur. Unique for its straight standing wall of hundred feet height, the fort has some beautiful palaces inside. The Sheesh Mahal, Phool Mahal, Moti Mahal are splendid palaces once used by the kings and their wives.
The overnight train from Jodhpur is the best way to reach the desert city of Jaisalmer - called the golden city because of its golden yellow sandstone. The entire city, in fact, looks golden because everything visible in the city is built with the yellow sandstone. I started with the Gadsisar Lake, which was also close to the railway station. It is rare to have such a splendid lake in the middle of the desert. It was excavated by the kings to supply water to the city. Though the lake dries down in the summer, during monsoon, it fills up and becomes a pleasure to the eyes. The next on my list was one of the finest buildings in the country - the Patwon ki Haveli. Though this building does not have any royal connection and was basically a residential apartment built by a wealthy businessman for his children, the artwork and details in the building makes it more beautiful than any palace in the country. Another beautiful haveli, Nathmalji ki Haveli is also close by and while taking a good stock of the details in these Havelies, I did not realise that it was already lunchtime.
Post lunch was kept for the beautiful palace of the city and the Golden Fort - my ultimate destination. The Palace also built with the yellow sandstone, has some great artworks - the most important of those is surely the Badal Mahal - a five-storied tower for the Royals to enjoy the breeze. The Golden Fort or Sonar Kella is one of the very few living forts in the world and also comes in the UNESCO World Heritage list. Completely built with the yellow sandstone, the fort has houses, palaces, shops, eateries and many outstanding temples. It was a pleasure being in the iconic Golden Fort. The fact that permanent residents stay inside the fort is a great thing and marks of local residents are everywhere inside.
The last thing I had to do was take a very fast ride to the sand dunes to enjoy the sunset in the desert. It was a joyous ride to the dunes and then an exciting camel ride which took me to the heart of the sand dunes where I enjoyed a lovely sunset on the yellow sands of the desert of Thar. The journey ended there but the memories stayed and a promise was made to himself to start another super minimal trip very soon.
Night Bus from Delhi – Ajmer
Friday – Forenoon
Reach Ajmer in the Morning – Breakfast
Bus to Pushkar – Pushkar Lake, Brahma Temple- Savitri Mata Temple
Friday – Afternoon
Back to Ajmer – Ana Sagar Lake, Soniji ki Jhalra Temple – Adhai Din Ka Jhopra – Dargar
Bus to Jodhpur
Jodhpur Sightseeing (Umaid Bhawan Palace, Ghantaghar, Blue City Lanes, Fort, Mandavi Garden)
Train to Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer Sightseeing (Gadsisar Lake, Patwon ki Haveli, Nathmalji ki Haveli, City Palace, Golden Fort, Sunset at Dunes)
Bus to Delhi - reach by Monday morning.
Accommodation: 400/- (At Youth Hostel Jodhpur)
About The Author:
Sidhu Jetha (The Nomadic Architect) is a Kolkata based travel blogger who has set a life goal of visiting all historic places of India to get the essence of Art & Architecture of the glorious past of the country. To read more about him follow the below links;
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