The Golden Dunes of Thar - Jaisalmer Diaries by Sukhman Dhillon


In my mind I had an image that my train will pass through sand dunes and I'll step out rolling in one.

But oh hello! What a surprise Jaisalmer is - a yellow rocky town, with beautiful people and intricate structures that fan curiosity. While I walked into the hustle bustle of the fort I kept waiting for it to start somewhere, I had to constantly remind myself that this wasn't suppose to be the elite mehrangarh fort, (Jodhpur) but a real, live, massive fort with 3000 people living behind these castle towers and pigeons. So many pigeons! 


I sat right on top at a cafe sipping my beer, watching the town come alive as it picked a beat. In the evening that beat abruptly drops at 9 and all settles. We sat on the terrace of the 1st gate, for the most expansive view of the fort lit in gold, while I made my own wood fired oven pizza. 

At 12 when we walked to our guesthouse the whole town was fast asleep but our common room had travel stories brewing. 
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We met a couple from the UK who had been backpacking in india for 6 months. They were living on the terrace of the guesthouse in a tent covered with fairy lights for only Rs 100, while we, who booked on air bnb, were feeling too cool for finding a room for Rs 800.
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kuldhara, the ghost town in Rajasthan. According to the legend, the evil eyes of Salim Singh, the powerful and debauched prime minister of the state, fell on the daughter of the village head and he desired to marry her by force. He threatened the village with grave consequences if they did not adhere to his wish. Instead of submitting to the order of the tyrant, the Paliwals held a council and people of 85 villages left their ancestral homes and vanished. But this was not all; before leaving, they put a curse on Kuldhara that no one will ever be able to settle in their village thereafter. To this date, the village remains barren; left almost the same as its inhabitants had left it centuries ago. It is also said that people who have tried to stay there at night have been chased away by strange paranormal phenomenon.
A photo posted by Sukhman Dhillon (@psychadelic_wanderlust) on 

The next day, we finally left for the most awaited view of the dunes. On the way we stopped at the haunted village of  kuldhara, and followed that up with a magical camel ride at Sam sand dunes. 

A photo posted by Sukhman Dhillon (@psychadelic_wanderlust) on 
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A photo posted by Sukhman Dhillon (@psychadelic_wanderlust) on 
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There were a lot of people there, but around 6 for once it was so quiet that I could hear the wind against the camel munching nonchalantly into the dusk.  

A photo posted by Sukhman Dhillon (@psychadelic_wanderlust) on 


The night was lit up with the moon while some kalbelia dancers did their moves, and the drums echoed all the way into oblivion. 
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This only got better when in a zombie state I was woken at 6am for a  dune jeep safari, that went  very fast right into the middle of a desert that they call thar, next one is gobi and finally at Sahara our Jeep got stuck.



 I felt sucAdrenaline rush to be standing right in the middle of a desert, pushing,pulling, shaking the jeep, to only be rescued a little later when some people heard us scream. It was something I'd definitely try again, to only have it get stuck and be left all alone. 



Around evening, we reached back to Jaisalmer, at the desert festival which didn't manage to lure me for more than 20 mins. It's  staged performances were not something that appealed to me.   We decided to boat at gadhisar lake instead, the sun set was mesmerizing, with a back drop of ducks quacking and a constant sound of bells from the Ghats slowly welcoming the moon while we paddle our rejuvenated souls to the shore. Mapping our way back home we walked down the street buying gifts. Leather products are a total steal, and the rest is what you usually find at tourist  locations across India. So I bought my girls small, beautifully embroidered pouches for the tiniest of prized possessions and  Rajasthani pagdi.

A video posted by Sukhman Dhillon (@psychadelic_wanderlust) on 


Last day at the desert festival was interesting with several competitions.  Camel polo was my favorite while  BSF camel trophy was very impressive too.


My last few hours were spent at the patvon ki haveli observing the very fine carvings and jharokha embellished Royal walls. Here we wrote  postcards for several people, to only reach the post office and realize it's a Sunday, so no stamps, nontheless we post them hoping they get delivered because we'd hate to just loose them.

Our train back to Delhi was parked at the station, but it was our heart that was on the move, speeding around this beautiful small little town of lovely reminisces

If you liked this post and found it helpful, I would request you to follow these things when traveling -

- Manage your waste well and don’t litter
- Use dustbins. Tell us if you went to a place and found it hard to locate a dustbin.
- Avoid bottle waters in hills. Usually you get clean water in hills and water bottles create lot of mess in our ecosystem.
- Say big no to plastic and avoid those unhealthy snacks packed in plastic bags. Rather buy fruits.

- Don't play loud blaring music in forests of jungle camps. You are a guest in that ecosystem and disturbing the locals (humans and animals) is not polite 
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10 comments:

VJ Sharma said...

Brilliant post Sukhman ! And I curious about the 100Rs place. Do you have more details about this place :). This blog post can benefit a lot of budget travellers and probably more business to the guys who owns this space.

Anushka Bishen said...

Mind Blowing pictures!!! Great photo blog <3

ArchanaC Kapoor said...

Amazing pictures and a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing :-)

rupam sarma said...

Thanks for the post. Awesome photos.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Amazing pictures.

Unknown said...

Thanks a lot VJ, at hotel golden marigold they give you a tent on the terrace and the common washroom can be used, this is a good option only in winter.

Sukhman Dhillon said...

Thanks VJ.
At hotel Golden Marigold a tent on the terrace is available, with a common washroom, this is a good option for winters.

Sukhman Dhillon said...

Thanks a lot :)

Sukhman Dhillon said...

Thanks a lot :)

Vibha Malhotra said...

Lovely photographs Sukhman. I just checked your instagram account and you have got some brilliant photographs there. Would love to see more of these Photo Journeys.

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