Dining under a swarm of bats in Jaisalmer fort

Jaisalmer Travel Blog

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kids in street

The 22 hour train journey to Jaisalmer went really smoothly.  We were in the air conditioned sleeper carriage, with three bunks on each side of our carriage.  I settled down pretty early and had a long rest, and a decent enough amount of sleep.  We get pillows and sheets in this class so pretty comfortable.  We still had until about 3pm in the day on the train so just chatted with the part of the group in the carriage - about their lives and jobs.  An australian girl was a nurse in an aboriginal community, another new zealand lady told of her husband, kids and grandkids and about travelling the past ten years with her husband, and we talked about general plans for our travels and lives in the near future.

a holy man
  As the train stopped at a station we jumped off the try the local offering - reasonably standard option of veg pakora which are deep fried curried veggies, or I had a round flat batter with spiced potato in it.  We had those with a cup of chai - which is served from large canteens brought round the train - for our lunch. 

As we arrived in Jaisalmer it was immediately obvious we had reached the desert.  the air was hot but dry - so it was pleasent to be in and didnt make you sweat too much.  We climbed into jeeps to the hotel, which was inside the towns large lived-in Fort.  The rooms were lovely - high up in the fort overlooking the surrounding town and desert landscape.  Our was yellow with lavender woodwork on the shutters and old fashioned shutter doors, with wall hangings.

kids outside the haveli
  We went out onto the roof top to admire the views.  Lovely!

Then the group was lead round by Pradeep, our tour leader, to explore the town.  The vibe here was way more relaxed than Delhi, obviously, and also for India in general.  The small lazy streets are full of shops and services aimed at toursits, but there is not the desperation to sell I have seen a lot elsewhere.  I get the impression this town lives well off of the tourist trade and is more homely for us to be in.  We walked around looking outside the fort at the surrounding town as well and then made our way to the roof top restaurant for a tasty indian dinner watching the sunset.  As the sun dipped and the twinkle of lights in the town began to spread, the Fort was also lit up the sides with giant beams of light, which attracted moths, i expect, and therefore a swarm of bats whioch reflected the light and were flying on the winds above us for the duration of the evening.

jaisalmer doorway
  It was pretty a pretty amazing spectacle!

After dinner some of us took a walk in the town and we went to see where the havelis were.  These are amazingly ornate stately houses with many rooms - almost palaces although smallish.  One of them let us in to look around and it used to belong to a president.  There were portraits of queen victoria and other early 20th century English royalty and postcards surrounded a doorway - apparently from english royalty and government officials!

We wandered on to another haveli which we could see form the outside and it was wonderfully ornately carved sandstone - pictures attached.  Then we went back to the hotel for a good nights sleep.

The next day was free for us to look around.  We all met for breakfast on the roof top - then some of us went to explore the Jain temples.

musician
  There were about 5 and we wandered around them all.  Jainism is a religion which formed out of Hinduism.  It celebrates 24 prophets, pictured in my photos, and is slightly different to Hinduism in seeing only the soul as importance and not so much the body.  Hence the outside of the temple is a lot plainer than in hinduism and the inside is contrastingly ornate.  I did enjoy looking around the temples - one of which had a ceiling full of sleeping bats! see pics - but the "holy men" were very demanding of further donations which was pretty annoying.  Still - they were lovely and very spiritual as ever.  See photos for the images of the prophets - which look a bit like Buddha but are not!

Then we met up with some other members of the group for a cold drink and wandered to the Haveli we didn't get into last night.

jewellry seller
  This one was bigger and more organised than the one roomed Presidents Haveli.  It was made into a museum with the rooms kept like they would ahve been and all information.  It was lovely - built around a central balconied - three tier - empty space with open roof and inner courtyard below.  Would have loved to live there!  Roof had great views as well. 

We wandered accross town in the increasngly unbearable heat to a local restaurant serving Thalis - the usual lunch of choice for indians which includes a chapati, poppadom, rice and then small portions of three curries.  They went round and refilled the curries as we ate them and it was nice to eat with lcoal people rather than in touristy restaurants.

After that the heat was a bit much so we went to the hotel to rest.

the group dinner on the roof
  I spent the afternoon wandering around and doing some shopping - the speciality here is camel leather (certainly not from cows - Hindu country!) and it comes from the desert so this is the best place to buy it.  I got a few xmas presents here and watched them being hand darkened from the tan of camel shin to the dark leather.  Then it was another roof top meal - followed by interesting conversations about local politics and customs with our guide.  He told us much about the marriage customs and his own marriage to his wife earlier that year,.  apparently we will be having a dinner at his house in Udaipur when we get there on the tour, and meet his family and friends.
cow!
  Sounds great!

I also enjoyed talking with Hans, the older German man.  He revealed an interesting history which involved his father being a prisoner of war in Siberia as he grew up in East Germany - before his mother fled with him and his brother to the west just before the wall went up to meet their father after 8 years of imprisonment.  Then he studied in Frankfurt and became a Colonel in the army - and apparently owned some sort of company after that but has been travelling the past few years constantly and aims to do this for the next few.  His daughters are at the Humboldt so we have chatted a bit in German and that.  Very interesting guy!

After that it was bed for me - and the next day we only had until 3pm before the camel safari started - so i have so far spent 3 hours in the internet cafe sorting this blog and its pics!  After this a delicious Thali awaits me and then the camel safari - which I will blog later this week.

the fort at night
  All is well, and loving Rajasthan! 

Danni xxx

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kids in street
kids in street
a holy man
a holy man
kids outside the haveli
kids outside the haveli
jaisalmer doorway
jaisalmer doorway
musician
musician
jewellry seller
jewellry seller
the group dinner on the roof
the group dinner on the roof
cow!
cow!
the fort at night
the fort at night
cows in street again
cows in street again
the postcards around door were wri…
the postcards around door were wr…
jaisalmer doorway
jaisalmer doorway
intsrument seller
intsrument seller
cows eating rubbish again
cows eating rubbish again
the puppys that were outside the h…
the puppys that were outside the …
the puppies feeding!
the puppies feeding!
our dinner table - what a view
our dinner table - what a view
the gate to the fort
the gate to the fort
jain temple
jain temple
lake
lake
jain temple
jain temple
jain temple
jain temple
jain temple
jain temple
jain temple
jain temple
jain temple
jain temple
jain temple
jain temple
bats in the jain temple
bats in the jain temple
eating in front of fort view
eating in front of fort view
picture of town
picture of town
Jaisalmer
photo by: lrecht