A Tryst with Royalty - Bikaner & Jaisalmer - Day 4 - Sun and Sand

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Camels and camel drivers in Sam Desert Jaisalmer
Camels and their drivers in Sam Desert Jaisalmer


A Tryst with Royalty - Bikaner & Jaisalmer - Day 4 - Sun and sand

Continued from series of post on Jaisalmer and Bikaner Trip. 

To read from the beginning click here


                After completing the tour of the Fort, the next stop was Salim Singh Ki Haveli. This Haveli belonged to Salim Singh, the Prime minister of erstwhile Jaisalmer state. Salim Singh is portrayed as a cruel Prime Minister. It is said that he wanted his Haveli to be higher than the King's palace in Fort. This thing did not go well with Maharawal (the title of the kings of Jaisalmer) and he ordered the top two stories to be razed. We had to walk through the bazaars of Jaisalmer. Yesterday also we had spent some time in Bazars. Now the second look of handicrafts and beautiful bright coloured Rajasthani attire attracted the ladies more. The two ladies with me my wife and daughter were now more attracted towards these knickknacks. than the Haveli.

Beautiful Peacock shaped roof of Salim Singh Ki Haveli
Beautiful Peacock shaped roof of Salim Singh Ki Haveli

Salim Singh Ki Haveli
Salim Singh Ki Haveli

Ornate roof of the Salim Singh ki Haveli- Jaisalmer
Ornate roof of the Salim Singh ki Haveli- Jaisalmer

                               The Haveli is situated in a busy bazaar or a market. The Haveli is not as ornate as the other havelis and palaces that we had seen. But the biggest attraction and the differentiator of its roof. The topmost floor is a balcony open from all sides and has Thirty-Eight arches. These beautiful arches slope down gently like a dancing peacock. This Balcony also gives the haveli an effect of a huge ship. It has two elephants at the gates to welcome visitors. This haveli is still owned and controlled by the descendants of Salim Singh. Our guide, maybe wanting to complete his assignment early and look for another client, joined the gang of ladies to drop the idea of going inside and I had to agree. So we took a few pics of the Haveli from outside and the ladies got busy in their favourite activity "Shopping".  They bought some mojris (A kind of Footwear)   made out of camel skin leather, lehria ( A wavy pattern created with tie and dye method and is a speciality of Rajasthan )   dupattas (a kind of stole )  and some other stuff.
Rajasthani Pagdi
Rajasthani Pagdi 

Dal Pakwan
Dal Pakwan


                                 Today our next thing on our agenda was to enjoy the wilderness of desert. We were to go to the desert, stay in a desert camp and enjoy it. I had already booked this through one of my online friend Kasam  Khan. Everybody was feeling hungry. We did not want to waste time in a restaurant and decided to have street food. I used the tested formula to spot good food " To go to a place, where locals are thronging to". I spotted a shop selling Kachoris, with a huge local rush. I bought a few Kachoris and then another local dish called Dal Pakwan. It was a Phool Papad ( A papad made out of Rice starch, which multiplies manifold in size when fried ), on which cooked dal is spread and then chopped coriander, chopped onion, chillies and lemon juice is added. Both the choices were good and very tasty.
Bhang Shop & the owner
Bhang Shop & the owner

Govt. Authorised Bhang Shop
Govt. Authorised Bhang Shop

                   Another interesting shop in that area was " Govt. authorised Bhang ( Hemp) shop". Me and Jyotsna walked to the Shop. The menu was so exhaustive and offered Bhang based shakes and Thandais in so many flavours to put Starbucks to shame. On asking how come the government has allowed and licenced the sale of Bhang openly, the shop owner told that in Brahmin and Jain community consumption of alcohol and tobacco is not looked upon positively. So they revert to Bhang. We wanted to try it but had a long drive ahead. Seeing our dilemma, the shopkeeper started enquiring as a doctor takes symptoms and said that he will make a light Thandai for us. Later on, we found it to be too light as we did not feel an iota of thing.

                             Another round of market and some shopping of titbits, we were off to the hotel. We had already settled the bill and packed the luggage. We just picked up the luggage and were off to the desert. Today we will spend a night in a desert camp. Our next stop was Kuldhara an abandoned village. Kuldhara was a prosperous village with 300 affluent Paliwal community families residing there. All of sudden, one night the entire population of the village abandoned it and left for an unknown destination. The most popular reason is again linked to Salim Singh. It is said that Salim Singh wanted to marry a Paliwal girl from the village, but the Paliwals of the village were not ready. They tried to dissuade him, but Salim Singh was adamant. When Paliwals felt that Salim Singh can abduct that girl anytime, they decided and left the village en masse carrying whatever little belongings they could with them for an unknown destination leaving no trace behind. There are other versions also. In a TV show called "Ekaant" on Epic TV, which covers such abandoned places only, in an episode on Kuldhara the host Akul Tripathi met the descendants of Salim Singh, who produced the records of Jaisalmer Darbar to prove that Salim Singh already dead when the Paliwals abandoned the village and attributed this to falling groundwater level, failing crops and their inability to pay taxes. It seems hard to believe as Paliwals were a trading community and not a farming community.

Ruins of Kuldhara
Ruins of Kuldhara

A restored temple in Village Kuldhara
A restored temple in Village Kuldhara

Wide roads of Kuldhara
Wide roads of Kuldhara



It was quite hot when we reached Kuldhara. An affluent village once, was all ruins now.  Government is trying to promote it as a tourist spot. One temple and two houses have been restored. From ruins, one can easily understand that it must have been an affluent village with wide cobble stoned lanes crossing each other at right angles. After spending some time we pushed towards the desert. There are two deserts with sand dunes near Jaisalmer. One is Sam and other is Khuri. We were heading towards Sam which is more commercialised.


We had booked out tent with Kasam Khan. He had given us the directions as to how to reach his camp and also warned that people will try to stop us and we were not to stop. This sounded strange. However, when we were nearing the camp area, people were actually stopping us some even stood even in the middle of the road to stop us. They all were selling one service or other. Camel Safari, Jeep Safari etc...
The Desert Camp at Sam Desert Jaisalmer
The Desert Camp at Sam Desert Jaisalmer



Going to the Sand Dunes
Going to the Sand Dunes


A local performer
A local performer

Fun on the San Dunes
Fun on the Sand Dunes

A beautiful Sunset
A beautiful Sunset

Enjoying the desert
Enjoying the desert

capturing the sunset
Capturing the sunset 




After crisscrossing through these sellers we reached the camp. The camp was beautiful with semi-permanent tents in a huge circle and a performance area in the centre. After freshening up and resting for a few minutes, we were ready for Camel Safari. We were allocated two camels. Jyotsna and Anupma one camel and Me and Sarthak on the other. They took us to the sand dunes.we were to enjoy the Sand dunes and see the sunset there. There was a lot of rush there. We picked up our corner on a dune and sat down. Sarthak was having a great time in Sand running sliding and playing a lot of games.


After sundown, we went back on camelbacks. We had some tea and rested a while. When it was dark, the folk dancers and singers started their show. Folksingers sang folk songs and two Kalbelia dancers danced. Kalbelias are a tribe of snake-charmers. The girls of this tribe dance wearing black clothes and show extraordinary acrobatics like dancing on nails. lifting razor blades with eyelids, applying Kajal in eyes with a knife and a lot more. These dancers here lacked the finesse and grace of the Kaleblia dancers, which I had seen in earlier performances. After performances, a Rajasthani Buffet dinner was arranged, which was not at all tasty.
Evening Tea at Camp
Evening Tea at Camp
A Kalbelia Performer
A Kalbelia Performer


                 What I feel is that the camp package sellers try to include more and more things in the package and to attract customers and then cut corners on quality. Anupma's migraine had worsened, so we slept hoping her to be fit by morning.

contd



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A Tryst with Royalty - Bikaner & Jaisalmer - Day 5 - The Border Run                       

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