Craig’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 10 Feb 2007

Location: Jalsalmer, India

MapHello everyone,

I made my way into Rajasthan on Tuesday with my first stop in Jodhpur. This had a very different feeling to any of the places I visited in the south. The place itself is very busy with the main attraction being the huge fort in the middle of the city. Its walls sprawl on a 125m hill and all the houses in the city are painted blue and surprise surprise its called the blue city. The colour blue is significant because it represents the home of a Brahmin (highest hindu caste) but also this colour repels insects apparently. I made my way into the fort and did the guided tour which I usually try to avoid but this one was actually pretty interesting. The fort has a number of gates within it representing the history at various points of time, probably the most interesting one was the final gate which has numerous tiny hand prints from the wives of the Jodhpur ruler at the time who died in the 19th century and back then it was common practice for the widows to throw themselves on the funeral pyre....dedicated religion I guess! From the top of the fort it has an amazing view over the blue city which cuts into the Thar desert running into the horizon. Very busy city which has a lot of character but as always the locals don't fail to cash in on it!

On thursday I made my way to Jalsalmer further west of Rajasthan. Again this place has a fort made of golden sandstone which isn't in the best shape but the architecture is spectacular with about 7 Jain temples dominating the fort. The main reason travelers come to Jalsalmer is to do a desert trek. I went on a 2 day trek and returned today. A desert trek is meant to be a romantic experience, traveling slowly through the desert on camel back, setting up camp on a sand dune and sleeping under the stars......unfortunately this wasn't to be! We set out on Friday morning early doors and the weather was ok but a little overcast. Riding a camel is an experience, the first 10 minutes are fine but after 3 hours your walking like John Wayne and it seriously jeopardized my chances of having kids in the future! Not to mention these animals smell non to good with the added fragrance from the rear end of the camel in front! By the time we settled in the desert in the evening it was beginning to rain and by the time we had eaten it was pretty bad weather until finally the thunder and lightening started. Imagine if you will, me and four other travelers in the middle of the desert, 50 miles from the Pakistan border, pitch black, no tent just sheets and a tiny fire with 2 camel leaders who have just about finished a bottle of rum between them. We eventually got the camel guys to take us to a local village where one of them lived as it was freezing cold and very wet. Walking for about an hour in a desert storm is fun, lashing rain with huge lightening forks following a camel leader off his head forgetting where he lived! Once we reached his house we walked into this one roomed mud hut with his parents, wife and children, about 7 in total all lined up on the floor. We were ushered in by the guy who was having a blazing argument with the mrs and squashed up on the floor next to the family. I don't think any of us slept too much through the shivering and fear of never waking up! Having said this I was lucky as our group were all really nice and we kept a sense of humor about the situation and laughed our way through it - I certainly think this is one event of traveling I won't forget!

I'm off to a place called Pushkar tonight on the overnight train so another good nights sleep will be had!!!

Hope your all ok back home and content that its raining over here too!

Bye for now everyone! x