Tag Archives: Rajasthan

Jaisalmer to Jaipur

After we returned from the camel safari at the Thar desert, we got back in the car (did not mention yet, but we hired a private driver – Vicky Rai – who met us in Udaipur and stayed with us for 2 weeks, highly recommend him if you plan to visit Rajasthan) to our next destination, Jaisalmer, the Golden City. We found a new hotel – Golden Haveli – that had a lot of potential and a very refreshing swimming pool. At a 45° degree weather, the best thing one can have in Jaisalmer is a swimming pool after a day of sightseeing. We also met again with our Aussie friends from Jodhpur and all 4 kids had a lot of fun together. We visited the Jaisalmer Fort and Jain Temples, and the old havelis in the city, which was very interesting to see how the rich people used to live. It was bloody hot and back we were at the swimming pool whenever we could. After 3 days in Jaisalmer, our next stop was Pushkar.

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We spent 2 nights in Pushkar, which we had to stop there because the drive was too long from Jaisalmer to Jaipur. Pushkar is a holy city because it is one of the 5 pilgrimage sites for devout Hindus, and it is on the shore of Lake Pushkar where there are several ghats where pilgrims descend to bathe in the sacred waters. Pushkar is also famous for the annual Camel Fair, when the town gets completely packed. It appears that it is also a destination for backpackers as we saw several around…

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After Pushkar, we headed to Jaipur, the Pink City and capital of Rajasthan state. It is certainly a big and noisy city but nothing like Delhi or Mumbai. We stayed at the lovely Madhuban Hotel, which is an old house that belongs to the Patan family. It was a great place, with excellent service, and we ended up extending our stay there. Also visited the amazing City Palace and Amber Fort, in between some delicious meals.

Next stop – Ranthambore National Park

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Stargazing Camel Safari!! ⎮ Thar Desert, Jaisalmer

We stepped out of the car to some welcoming peach/beige colored sand.

“Hello, Thar Desert!”

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Beautiful Thar Desert – no filter, I promise!

After a short tour around the camp, we chose our camels. I happen to choose the one with a purple saddle (it’s name is Disco). We began our safari and after a little while, we got to the top of the sand dunes to watch the sunset. Sebastian, of course, was the first to start rolling around in the sand. I did not want to but I got pulled in anyways and it was pretty fun too! We would go to the top of a dune, roll down, climb back up, and do it all over again; now these dunes aren’t like any that I’ve seen – the roll down takes minutes not seconds and it’s a big hike to get back up. After the pretty sunset over the dunes, we all made our way back to camp by camel. In a few minutes we sat in a big semicircle with the other guests in front of a roaring fire for our dinner and entertainment show.

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Playing in the dunes!

 

The dinner was great – Indian Rajasthani food varying from curries and lentils – and the show was fabulous! One of the performers did some amazing tricks with a bicycle wheel. She would spin it round and round on her hand and toss it up. Then she would catch it on her foot. The same performer also balanced about eight pots on her head while dancing. Near the end of the show, the dancers pulled all of us up from our seats to join in the dance; my mom and I had a blast dancing around the fire pit. After the show, we made the decision to sleep under the stars instead of in a hut; oh, and did I say out in the Thar desert on the dunes under the stars? Yep!

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At first, I really did not want to sleep under the stars. I didn’t have a reason why; I just did not want to. It might have also been because we were the only ones going there. Why did all the other guests stay back in the huts I wondered? But I had no choice anyways because the rest of the family wanted to sleep under the stars and if you ask me, I would rather sleep with everyone else rather than alone. We took a wagon out to the dunes to find a good spot with our guide; not to close to the huts but just far enough so that the lights do not distract us in our star gazing. Our spot in the dunes was actually a lot nicer than we had all expected. We all got our own beds, yes, frames and all. The beds were actually pretty snug and comfortable and as a result, I had a good night of sleep.

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Our sleep spot on the dunes. Pretty nice, eh?

 

I like to call the stargazing a book. Whenever I cannot sleep, my dad always says to take out a book and read. Most of the time, it works. When we were under the stars, I would  fall asleep and wake up. The stars would be my book and cradle me back to sleep like a baby. All the stars are a great reason to make this one of the best nights of my life. At home in Florida, we have different constellations. Most of the time it is really just Venus,  the big & little dipper (if your lucky enough to even see stars above the city). But on this desert night, there were no lighting distractions and all the stars you could ever imagine. We got a constellations app (you have to pay, but totally worth it) and we got to see Jupiter, cancer, aquarius, orion and a LOT more!

When we woke up at sunrise, we packed up our stuff, hopped on the camel cart and our guide took us in for some breakfast before we headed back to the city. It turns out we were really close to India’s border and the country of Pakistan – pretty cool except that these two countries are not really close and have jet fighters flying to protect their countries. The more I learn, the more I question why borders are any good since they seem to cause a lot of anger and stress for people. But that’s a story for another day! We loved our time with Disco and her fellow camels, the dancing, and the sleeping under the stars on the dunes of Rajasthan.

Next stop: Jaisalmer — The Golden City!

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The nice camel that carried four beds, all the bedding, two adults, and two children, there and back!

 

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A nice rest before the walk back.

 

Holy Goldy Lakes or Love? It’s Blue City Baby!

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The Blue City of Jodhpur

Desert driving is fun for the first hour…then it lulls you to sleep…and after hours on end you learn that everyone tires out! So for all the moms and dads out there, remember that even when you’re the guy driving the family on that roadtrip to Uncle Buck’s (Tom Candy movie), we all get tired on the road.

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Not our bus thank goodness!

And so we landed in the Blue City of Jodhpur at the rejuvenating Devi Bhawan which is a lovely escape within the city. Quiet, peaceful, great staff, decent food, large rooms, and ba-da-dum – a nice pool to stay cool! Fancy that and we took full advantage of it after our daily excursions.

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Devi Bhawan

The highlight of the Blue City is Fort Mehrangarh (meaning sun god fort in Rajasthani) that looms over the city in a super-size-me way. At 5 centuries, it is the most impressive fort in Rajasthan. You drive up a hill to reach it and are mesmerized by the walls that are 100+ feet high and 70 feet wide; in fact, they have built a zip line on the backside (no we didn’t). Once inside, the museum tour as you walk around the rooms of the fort contains some of the best artifacts we’ve seen from prior royal rulers. We learned that descendants are in control of the fort management which is both good and bad as they reap the benefits (e.g. revenues) while the general population receives the trails (tourist hawk shops).

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Back in the pool, we connected with an Aussie family from Phillip Island (near Melbourne) and sure enough found some traveling friends in David, Bhavani, Jazmin, and Isabel. They were on holiday and same ages as Sebastian & Louisa so we ended up meeting again throughout our travels in Rajasthan. I’ll let the rest of the family share those experiences but it certainly points out, yet again, how much fun traveling the world can be and how easy it is to make new friends from nearly anywhere – including the desert!

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We left Jodhpur happy with our new friendships and impressed with the strength of the Blue City for our furthest spot in Rajasthan, Jaisalmer (a few clicks from the Pakistan border).

Here are a few local folks showing off their cool turbans:

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