Saturday, October 18, 2008
The Golden City Alive
Tourist season was at its peak. Jaisalmer was now packed with tourists crazy for forts, festivals, feasts and safaris. I headed towards the Sand Dunes to explore the captivating beauty and lifestyle of the interiors of Jaisalmer in a closer way. Infact, to be part of the Desert Festival was perhaps the major reason, which could not be fulfilled on my last trip. I could devote another one day for the purpose. All the hotels were already booked, but luckily I got a small room in a budget hotel. The hotel, its services and amenities were not up to the mark, but the tariff was hefty, probably because of the season. The food was undoubtedly delicious. The essence of Rajasthani food itself makes it out of the world. Extra-ordinarily flavoursome!
In the evening, I asked the manager to arrange a camel ride for me along with a guide. The guide took me to a small market area where several local people were shouting in high notes beckoning tourists to have a camel ride with them, quite similar to the rickshaw-walas in urban areas. One of them asked for Rs. 50 for a ride, which was quite affordable. But my guide, being a local person, immediately bargained and surprisingly fixed the same ride for me at just Rs. 20. It is quite surprising how those sand dunes were made just by the forceful winds, naturally! That camel safari was amongst the most adventurous things I have ever done.
At sunset, people started preparing themselves for night camping and folk art performances. I also joined a group of tourists and enjoyed the musical evening with dance performances, camp-fire and light snacks. It was getting cold and I preferred moving back to my “luxurious” hotel. Thankfully my room was warm and cozy.
I had already planned not to miss the Desert Festival in Jaisalmer on this trip. So the very next morning, I moved towards the fair. The festival is known for various cultural as well as fun activities such as camel races, folk dances, Mr. Desert contest and the interesting Turban tying contest. Being much excited, I too participated in the camel race and turban tying contest. As predicted, none of the two contests could bring me any prize. The celebration area was heavily crowded, but cheerful. The city became alive with the colourful ambience, cultural acts, traditional music, folk art-dance performances, and art & craft stalls. I bought a few special handicrafts for my mother and friends.
As I had enough of food specialties in the fair, I did not order anything for dinner. At this point of time, after exploring enough of the Golden City, I was planning to grab a luxurious seat in the royal train 'The Palace on Wheels' to reach my next destination.