New Delhi Old Station
We started our trip from Old Delhi station. We in a group of 5 people organized our trip to Jaisalmer and Jodhpur. I was visiting these destinations for the first time, which is why I was excited to explore Rajasthan. The stations in Delhi are always chaotic like any other stations around the world. Hustling and bustling with noise. The train journey takes a whopping 18 hours. Our train was supposed to leave old Delhi station by 6 pm and reach Jaisalmer by 11.30 am the next morning. We all were excited and knew that no matter how long our journey is we will be going to enjoy the time spent together.
Our Train Journey
I suggest you take water bottles, fruits etc. with you as the journey is tiring and you will be able to travel in budget (well if you are looking to save some money on the go). However, you can expect a good complimentary dinner inside the train, provided by authorized train pantries. If you are travelling in an AC coach make sure you lock all your belongings underneath the seats as a security measure. If you are travelling by 1st class, you won’t have to worry a lot, as you will have the cabin to yourself. We travelled by 2nd class AC, and there is no switch to turn off the air conditioner at night, so you better pull some sheets over yourself, though you will be provided with blankets, white sheets and tea towels. If you are a night owl you might also see that the train stops at some stations for longer than others, noticeably at Jaipur for 10 minutes, Jodhpur for 40 minutes, and Pokaran for 25 minutes.
Next morning when you wake up you will be embraced by sun shine and presumably you will find that your train halted at a junction and this one was famously Pokaran for us. We had a stopover for roughly 25 minutes. Essentially the train engine is changed on this platform.
In next few hours you will reach Jaisalmer Station, the last stop and our final destination. The first thing that will strike your mind will be the station is non chaotic, clean as compared to Old Delhi Station and also very hot. We planned our tour of Rajasthan during off season, which was in September. At the station we had our taxi waiting, as we planned our journey and asked our hotel to pick us up from the station. It took us about 15 minutes to reach our hotel which was at 1st Gate, opposite magnificent Jaisalmer Fort. The beauty of the fort was simply breath taking and as it was a strikingly sunny day, it was shining like a gold temple. We freshened up and got ready to start our holiday; we went to the city and decided to go to Gorbandh Palace, which is about 30 minutes by car from our hotel. We thankfully had some maps handy with us to not waste any time and explore as much as we could on our trip. The lunch was a good treat, with Rajasthani flavours bursting in the palette. After our lunch we decided to laze around the hotel for a while, and then we came back and decided to go to the fort.
We came to know the fort is a residence to many people who stay inside the fort. It was surprising to me and made me even more curious to go and discover the beauty and to see the people who live inside the fort. We took a tuk tuk which charged us a nominal 60 INR, and took us to the centre of the fort, and what I saw was simply staggering. The interiors of the fort were made completely of yellow sandstone. We realized that this place was famous with the tourists. We visited the famous Jain Mandir and other temples inside the fort. We also came to know that the fort had 3 wells in the historic times, as Jaisalmer had shortage of water in the old times, and majority of water was taken from the Gadi Sagar Tank which is a few miles away from the fort. We then went to the local market within the fort. We shopped for camel leather footwear and wallets. The quality of the products was indeed good and not very expensive. Our next stop was Killa Bhawan, which essentially is a boutique hotel, we went there to have our evening tea, and we reached there around 4 pm. The view from the hotel was absolutely staggering and breathtaking; the owner of the hotel took us to the terrace, where the views were even better. We could easily see the fort, and the Gadi sagar lake/tank. Jaisalmer was cooling down and we enjoyed a few hours in Killa Bhawan. We then went to Hotel Garh Jaisal, which was also a great boutique hotel, as our guide wanted to show us some nice hotels and places to see inside the fort. Again the views were astonishing and one common thing among these hotels was that they had extended balconies where you can sit on the mattress and enjoy the views of the city. For a while the sun came back and the whole city of Jaisalmer started shining like a city submerged in shiny gold. For the day it was enough, and we started to feel the fatigue and went back to our hotel called First Gate.
Our actual plan was to see Gadi Sagar Lake/Tank as well today, but due to shortage of time, we didn’t have the chance to go during the day. So we decided to go in the evening, it was already dark and we braved it, as it was not very far from our hotel. We took a tuk tuk and reached Gadi Sagar Lake. It was already pitch-dark by the time we reached there. When we came close to the lake stairs, we saw people sitting on the stairs and throwing wheat balls in the shallow water, and to my surprise I saw a school of fish all around the lake with open mouths trying to catch the wheat balls. We then took a boat ride around the lake and enjoyed the beauty. We went to a nearby restaurant and had our dinner and then went back to our hotel.
Pabu Ki Dhani
Next morning we had plans to go to an eco farm, famously known as “Pabu ki Dhani”. We left our hotel around 8 am and took a local auto rickshaw to reach Bada bagh. The plan was that someone from Pabu ki dhani (near Pohar) will pick us up from there. Pabu has one white Indian tuk tuk, which we boarded that took us to the village of Pabhu ki dhani. The journey was for about 45 minutes and is about 25 -30 km or so from Bada Bagh. Mind you, you won’t have any mass public transport going there accept tuk tuks, you need to get this arranged with either the owner of the farm or tell your hotel to arrange one for you. Once you reach you are greeted with some great views and you will also find that the place is covered with volcano stones all around. We met the owner of the farm namely Pabu and his French wife called Capucine, the brain child of whose is this tourist spot. We reached there by 10 am and it was already scorching hot. I am sure the temperature had easily crossed 35 degree Celsius or more in the early morning. We sat at in the shadow and both Pabu and Capucine greeted us and we all had some traditional snacks. For our entertainment Pabu had organised a small live music performance. The way Pabu sang and the way the other guy played the flute with harmonious rhythm and great coordination was simply astonishing. Later Capucine joined and added additional tunes with Indian wood clippers. After an awesome performance we took a round trip of the property and understood the idea and comforts available to tourists. There were about 10 huts all covered with husk and bamboo sticks. All had been made with mud instead of cement. Essentially the idea and theme of the place was an eco tourism farm, so no light, nothing artificial and all natural resources were used without making any harm to the environment. The place was very well maintained. Capucine also showed us some handmade carpets or “Daris” in Hindi. The best part of our time spent in Pabu ki dhani was that it was all away and far from the hustle and bustle of the city and was next to the lake.
Hotel Fifo and Tent house
By late afternoon we decided to leave the place as we had plans to go to the Fifo hotel tent house for our adventurous stay in sand dunes for the night. We had our evening tea at the hotel and then arranged our night stay at Fifo Tent house, which was about an hour’s drive south of Jaisalmer. We travelled to this place by Local Jeep, which was in good condition with no rattling on the roads. We reached the place at the right time before sunset and had some refreshments. The property was made next to sand dunes and they had huge white tent houses behind the property. We had some snacks and our camels were waiting for a nice Thar dessert camel ride. It was all planned and scheduled by Fifo, and we were excited to ride the camel and view the discover the Great Thar. For some of us, riding a camel was a first time experience. The camel ride was fun and we went quite far and had great views of the sunset. The ride was long, it lasted almost an hour and for some it was too much. We had our dinner and the manager of the tent house suggested that it would be a great experience to go and sleep on the sand under the night sky. We were more than happy to accept his offer, as none of us had ever slept on sand before. Next morning was a brand new day and we realized that the Thar indeed is a great place to be, and we loved every moment spent there. We had a traditional western breakfast in the morning and left this gorgeous place to go back to the Fifo Hotel. It was time to say goodbye to Jaisalmer.
Back to Pokaran
We took a Cab and decided to have our lunch in Pokran Fort. It was a 3 hour drive from Jaisalmer to Pokran fort (it depends on how bad the traffic is) and by the time we reached Pokran it was mid afternoon and we were starving. But the entire wait was worth it. We reached the fort with ease and took some pictures of the fort. We also came to know that the fort had staying facilities. We lazed around for an hour or so and as scheduled we had to be in Jodhpur before the evening.
The drive from Pokran to Jodhpur took another 3 hours or so. We were booked in the Ratan Villas, a nice, comfortable and peaceful villa in the chaotic city. Ratan Villas is a great place to stay for holidays in Jodhpur. As it was only 5.30 pm, we decided that we will freshen up and then go to the city and hangout for a while and get to know the city. We took the City map from our hotel reception and went out exploring. We came to know that Jodhpur is home to some royal palaces and legendry bhavans. It is also home to vintage car fanatics. Our priority was to see the famous Mehrangarh fort. That evening we hung out in the city markets AND did some shopping. Camel leather goods are famous and we did find some good shops, which provided us with bargains. For dinner one of our friends suggested us to go to “The Ajit Bhavan”, which was less than 3 km away from our hotel. The place is awesome, a great heritage place with some lovely vintage cars lined up at the entrance. We had our dinner at this exclusive bar named “JBAR”. The food was delicious and the drinks were chilled. After having a great night we returned back to our hotel and went to bed early as we had a full day of exploring the next day.
Next morning we planned to go to Ghanta Ghar (clock tower), nearby old markets and the most important Mehrangarh fort. As this was the last day of our holiday, we had to see as much as we could. We woke up early morning and my friends and I decided to swim in the nice swimming pool of Ratan villas. We spent an hour in the pool, got ready for breakfast and got ready to go by 11 am. The first place we had to visit was the Mehrangarh fort. The drive from our hotel to the fort was about 6 km. The plan was to cover the old markets, enjoy the adventure of flying fox and visit the great fort. We knew few things about the fort and it was all getting real by the time we reached the place. We came to know that Mehrangarh fort is also one of the tallest built forts in India. Entry was obviously not free as it is the most important tourist destination in Jodhpur. But we were surprised to know the entry charges and ticket charges to take the camera with you inside. The fort is located at such a height that lifts have been installed inside! Visitors have to buy a separate ticket to take the lift. By the time we reached the top of the fort, the view was simply staggering. It was early afternoon, and the clear view of the city took our breath away. The city was painted in blue when we looked around. We had a bird’s eye view of the city from the top of the huge fort. We spent about 2 hours in the fort and came down one floor at a time. By the time we came out of the fort it was already late afternoon and we had to rush to the old market for lunch and some final buy or die shopping. We had our train back to Delhi the same evening around 8 pm. So we had to go back to our hotel Ratan Villas and collect our luggage from there. All in all, our stay in Jaisalmer, Jodhpur was cities of Rajasthan was simply memorable and most of all it got even better as I was out with my besties.