One fine day I found Jaisalmer – a desert town in Rajasthan was beckoning me. I am basically a home person, and do not enjoy going out very often. I venture out of my comfortable abode only when it is necessary. But occasionally travel bug bites me, and most of the time, a quiet and beautiful destination starts attracting me. For me, my ideal journey is the one, where I can soak in the beauty and culture of the place, and enjoy local cuisines. I am not a shopaholic. I buy something only if I get to see a unique show piece, trinket or such ethnic items that are not available where I live.
Trip To Jaisalmer – The Golden City
I always like to go for vacations to relax and spend some quality time with my family or friends. One such memorable and an ideal journey was when I went to the Indian desert town of Jaisalmer. We decided to go to Jaisalmer in winters in the month of December. Our family friends from Mumbai were to join us there. We checked web portals, and found that Jaisalmer airport is managed by Indian Air force, and Jodhpur is the nearest civilian airport. From there it takes around five hours by road to reach Jaisalmer. Many domestic airlines have flights to Jodhpur from major cities of India. There is a direct train from Delhi to Jaisalmer. We decided to go by train.
We had an overnight journey from Delhi to Jodhpur. From there we took a taxi and reached Jaisalmer. One of our relative stays there. We decided to rest and freshen up at our relatives’ place. In the evening we had planned to go to desert safari, and camp in the desert at night.
Our hosts served us a famous Rajasthani cuisine known as ‘laal maas’ (literally meaning red meat). It is a mutton dish made with red chilies and whole spices. This fiery dish gets its red color from red chilies. No tomato is added. Meat is cooked on slow heat for hours. The meat was so well cooked that it melted in our mouth. Being a desert, most cuisine here require very less water, and there is widespread use of milk and ghee (rarefied butter).
Laal Maas, a fiery mutton curry
We set out for desert safari in the evening. Jaisalmer or ‘The golden city’, is a world heritage site, and is situated in Thar desert in the state of Rajasthan. The state of Rajasthan is well-known for its palaces and Maharajas, and their princely lifestyles. On our way to sand dunes, we noticed that the buildings and havelis (mansions) there are mostly made of yellow sandstone – giving it the sobriquet – ‘the golden city’. Many buildings had intricate designs carved on them.
Intricate carving work: Jain temple
Earlier there used to be camel desert safari on the dunes, but now they have started jeep safari as well. We opted for jeep safari. It was a thrilling experience, where our jeep took us through sand dunes at a very fast pace. We stopped at a place to watch sunset, and some of my family members took a camel ride as well.
A cute camel; who wants to ride?
After sunset, we were taken to a camp site. We watched lovely cultural program. I was completely mesmerized by folk songs of Rajasthan. The colorful folk dance was another attraction. Later many people joined the dancers. It was very lively atmosphere.
My trip to Jaisalmer: a beautiful sunset in the desert
After dinner we went to our tents. Nights in deserts are very cold, and we were trembling furiously. We quickly went to our beds. The soulful voice of folk singer was still lingering in my mind.
Next day we decided to visit Jaisalmer Fort and Jain temple. There is a market in the Fort where I could see lots of colorful local ware on sale.
Colorful musical instruments ‘ektara’ on sale
Who wants these puppets?
We decided to go for traditional Rajasthani lunch of ‘dal bati and churma’. I also liked kadhi-chawal, bajre ki roti, and ker-saangri ki sabzi (a locally grown vegetable) and butter milk (chhaach).
Traditional Rajasthani platter
Other famous cuisines of this area are pyaj ki kachodi, mirchi bada, papad ki sabzi, gatte ki sabzi, mawe ki kachodi , milk cake (kalakand) and of course a milk based cooling drink called thandai. You can read the recipe of thandai that I have posted. But we did not have appetite to eat more. Being an arid land, I found that the use of lentils is much more here as compared to green vegetables.
Next morning we returned back to Jodhpur, from where we boarded the same train for our return journey. Our relatives had packed meals for us to eat during our journey. Our train got late, and we were very thankful to our relatives to pack the meal.
On the whole, it was a memorable trip to Jaisalmer, where I got to know see the culture and lifestyle of people from desert. You too might have gone on a memorable journey. What kind of vacations do you like, a laid back one, or an adventurous holiday? I would love to know about your experience.
I learnt a lot about Rajasthani cuisine which I will share in my future posts.