Perhaps very few countries in the world are richer than India when it comes to bio-diversity and geographical terrains. Snow capped mountains in the north to gigantic Ganges planes to rain forests in the south to arid desert land in the west to wet land of Sundarban in the east to back waters, India has all that could be there on the earth. We have been to lakes, jungles, caves, mountains, ocean, rivers valley, backwaters etc. The only thing missing the list was the desert. So during the last December, we planned a desert safari in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.
We started our journey to Jodhpur in Rajasthan from our home town in Kanpur by train. The scheduled departure of the train was 2 A.M., and also there was some unrest in the city over a political issue. To our bad luck, internet services were also blocked so we could neither ascertain the running status of the train nor call a cab. And that’s why we arrived at the station by 11:00 P.M. itself. As it is common in northern India in winters, the train was late by 2 hrs. but as every coin has two sides, I found a surprise waiting for me at the station. In the waiting room I met with one of my batch-mate and a senior from Lucknow after almost a decade. They were travelling to Puri and have to catch the train from Kanpur. We all had a great time and rejoiced the memories of our Institute days, sipping coffee and wandering on the platform..:) At last arrival of my train was announced and I hugged them before boarding the train.
The train was already late and kept getting late even more. We had to catch a connecting train from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer. Although there was margin of more than 5 hrs but that too proved to be less as our train was getting more and more late. We were getting worried but the Ticket Checker suggested us to get down from our train at a station before Jodhpur i.e. Rai ka Bagh Palace, where the train to Jaisalmer had a stoppage of 5 minute. Finally we managed to board our next train to Jaisalmer. That was day 2 of our journey.
Next morning, we reached Jaisalmer at around 6:45 am and it was still dark outside. The sunrise time at Jaisalmer lags by almost 30 min. than that is in Kanpur. The railway station was very neat and clean. We had already booked our desert safari with Trotters Tours and Travels, they picked us from the railway station and took us to their guest house named as Desert Cow Guest House. There we got freshened up and left our luggage with them only. Since we were having time before leaving for safari so we left for a nearby place known as Hanuman Chowk. At Hanuman Chowk there are many tea and snacks stalls, there we had our morning tea. Next we left to visit few nearby famous Havelis of Jaisalmer (read about them in my future posts).
After having lunch at Shree Jee Excellency Restaurant (which is near to Hanuman Chowk and a very good restaurant), we returned to Desert Cow Guest House, from where we had to go for the desert safari. We were five people for the safari including Rebecca from Austria and Luisa and Rino, both from Italy. We started our journey at 1:30 P.M. by jeep to Sam Sand Dunes. On the way we passed by Government museum, RTDC Hotel Moomal, many wind farms and encountered with millions of Grasshoppers all the way from Pakistan, destroying the crops and vegetation.
En route we also visited an oasis, which was a very pleasant sight in sand. Oasis, in a different perspective can also be seen as one of the various ways of nature that make you think positive amidst all negativity.
We also visited Khaba village and fort. As per a folklore the entire population evacuated the village overnight because of unknown reason. The village is completely ruined now.
Leaving Khaba fort, we reached camel point where we left the jeep and rode the camels. The toughest part of camel ride is the moment when the camel stands up. After a ride of almost 1 hr, we reached the camping point in middle of the dunes. Experiencing the dunes was a mesmerising experience for all of us. We all were sitting on the sand, lost in nature, witnessing a beautiful sunset. We were greeted with hot tea and snacks. The sand was shining brilliantly like gold. It was the first evening of its kind in our lives. We had never seen so many shades of evening. Everyone was like searching for some unknown thing in oneself.
Meanwhile clicking pictures and chitchatting with others, the sunsetted completely. Our hosts arranged a bonfire as it gets very cold in the desert after the sunset. One of them sang few beautiful folk songs which we all enjoyed.
After having dinner which was prepared by the guys, we slept on the sand itself. We had been provided mattresses, bed-sheets and quilts. It was pitch dark. After so many years I slept under millions of stars. Next morning we woke up to the twittering of birds. It was a fantastic early morning. The sun was about to rise. As soon as I left my bedding I grabbed my camera and tripod and reached to the top of a dune from where sun rise was clearly visible. Horizon was getting red. And then there came the sun in its full glory. The golden sand of yesterday turned pink. Our foot-marks were still there. The wind had created some more beautiful patterns on the sand.
The guys were busy in preparing breakfast which consisted of boiled eggs, bread, fruits, omelette, jam and porridge.
Having taken breakfast it was time for the return journey. With a heavy heart and hundreds of memories, we said bye to the dunes and started camel ride back to the jeep point.
After a ride of about half an hour, we reached the jeep point, that marked the end of our memorable desert safari.