A Road to Sand Dunes…
For me, exploration was a personal venture. I did not go to the Arabian Desert to collect plants nor to make a map; such things were incidental. At heart I knew that to write or even to talk of my travels was to tarnish the achievement. I went there to find peace in the hardship of desert travel and the company of desert people. I set myself a goal on these journeys, and, although the goal itself was unimportant, its attainment had to be worth every effort and sacrifice @ 1959 Arabian Sands
Total Time 3 days (25 December 2014- 28 December 2014)
Distance covered: 2000 Kilometers approx.
Places Visited: Khuri sand dunes, Khaba, Kuldhara, Jaisalmer (Fort, Haveli, Jain temple and Gadisar Lake)
Expenses: Approximately 4500 INR ($80) per person
How to Reach
By air: Jaisalmer airport is a military air port and rarely used by traveler. Jodhpur airport is closest functional airport. From Jodhpur it takes around 6 hours by bus to reach Jaisalmer.
Train: Jaisalmer can also be reached by train. There are direct trains from Delhi and other major cities i.e Jodhpur, Jaipur, Mumbai…
Bus: Direct buses are available from Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Ahmadabad and other major cities.
Where to Stay
Finding hotels in Jaisalmer is not a problem. You can easily find a good and budget hotel. For a bag-packer it will cost around 300-500 INR per person per night in Jaisalmer. Staying in tent or mud house near sand dunes will coast anywhere between 1000-2500 INR per person per night. Khuri is relatively cheaper as compare to Sam (Both are villages near sand dunes). However, it is recommended to visit Sam first and then you can also visit Khuri dunes.
Life is a journey is the very philosophy of our life. Journey has different philosophical meanings, but one meaning i.e travelling is very close to my heart. Desert is the ocean of sands and the beauty of its colour and shape is beyond words. This is all about a four day journey to Jaisalmer from Delhi. The biggest fear was the fog condition in Delhi and Haryana. Travelling through train is definitely a better option if you have time. But under various constraints we decided to travel by road. We left Delhi at 4:30 PM, crossed Gurgaon by 7:30 PM and around 10:00 PM we crossed Nimrana. Our route was Delhi-Rewari-Jhunjhunu-Fatehpur-Benisar-Bikaner-Pokhran-Jaisalmer. The road condition was more or less good except some 50 km from Jhunjhunu to Fatehpur. We crossed Bikaner early morning and reached Pokharan (Nuclear explosion site) by 7:00 AM and reached Jaisalmer at 10:30 AM. We directly went to sand dunes near Khuri village. The sand dunes and ripples were quite mesmerizing. The camp was surrounded by sand mount from three sides with little vegetation. One unique thing was the availability of sweet drinking water in desert camp. It was not at all salty and believe me it was quite tasty. I will suggest you to drink normal water.
Rest everything was similar to other desert safari i.e folk song and dance at night and then dinner. After dinner we went to sand dunes with folk singer. Friends, bonfire in lonely desert, Rum and Ghazals… the combination cannot be explained in words.
After breakfast, we left camp and reached a deserted and abandoned village named Khaba. This is one of the eighty four villages which were vacated overnight by the people after the dispute with the king. There are different versions of stories related to Salim singh and a Paliwal girl. All the stories are quite interesting.
There are two villages famous for sand dunes first one is Sam and another one is Khuri. Sam is the main attraction of tourists. It is relatively crowded. Dunes are more developed and there is hardly any vegetation near the dunes. Just after camping area in Sam village, no man’s land starts. Khuri village is not that famous. Our camp was an isolated camp.
After Khaba we reached a village called Kuldhara. Kuldhara is a haunted village. It is said that spirits use to burn the lamp on Diwali night. If you are lucky you will see a snake near the old temple. Both the villages were abandoned some 500 years back. But the design of house can be visualized even today. Houses were roofless; houses were located on the both sides of street. Street is more or less straight; overall the design is quite similar to grid pattern design or say modern planned urban center design. The most important aspect of the village was their drainage system. The system was designed in such a way that first the water was used for drinking and then it was used for cleaning purpose, after cleaning the same water was used for irrigation purpose, thus the same water was used multiple number of times. I think similar planning can reduce our water stress. We need to design such system.
Our final destination was Jaisalmer. We visited a number of Jain temples, fort, Patwa Havelis and Gadisar lake which was excavated in 1367 by Rawal Gadsi Singh. Patwa Havelis are known for wall carving, wall painting, royal design and the most suitable for desert climate. The havelis are quite cool because of its design and materials used. I am not writing much about these places as they are quite famous. By the evening the entire city appears to be made of gold. The soil of jaisalmer contains small amount of gold although extraction is not economical. Jaisalmer fort is one of very few forts where common citizen reside and own their private homes inside the fort.
- There is hardly any good eating point between Jaisalmer and Bikaner or Jodhpur. Plan your trip and meal accordingly.
- As the trip was a small trip and we covered so many places, I will recommend you to spend more time in Jaisalmer (At least four days and preferably one week)
- There is a Bhang (prepared from leaves and flowers and buds of the female cannabis plant) Shop (Government approved shop) in Jaisalmer: Try if you can
- Try night safari it will cost approximately 2500 INR and around 6-7 people can share the cost.
- Try to plan the trip near full moon. Desert looks awesome in full moon
- If you are travelling there please have some chocolates, books, soap, shampoo or anything for local children. They will be more than happy to receive these goods. Save water in deserts.
“I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams…”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry