You must see Jaisalmer, the city that lights up under the sun. Made of yellow sandstone, exuding a warm golden glow, it translates into the most mesmerizing view. I had heard so much about it, that I was waiting eagerly for an opportunity to see it. Catching the flight from Mumbai to Jodhpur, we drove 285 km to Jaisalmer. Itâ€™s roughly about a five hour drive, but the well paved roads doesnâ€™t allow you to feel the distance.
Day one, I couldnâ€™t wait to get going. Atop a small hill, the Sonar Quila (Jaisalmer Fort) overlooks the entire city. As one of the largest fortified cities in the world, it is declared a heritage site and a visual delight. The massive structure holds not only several residential quarters but also many prominent Jain temples of exquisite beauty, the Shiv-Ganesh Temple as well as a museum of royal heritage splendor. The fort has also many shops of silver jewelry, books, clothes and many eateries. I was surprised to see several restaurants that had Italian cuisine. Perhaps to cater to the European tourists. The fort is kept clean and it is a delight to walk around, tinkering with the wares so neatly laid out by the enterprising tribal women. The Jain Temples with their intricate detailing are a sheer magnificence of artisanship. The structure itself is made of the yellow sandstone with artwork of fossil stone and marble base. The idols of the 24 tirthankars are each made of different metals/stone. One could actually spend an entire day understanding the history behind each of them, but hunger pangs beckoned and we returned to the entrance of the fort where Restaurant Jaisal was situated.
Once our stomach was satiated we drove towards the Gajroopeshwar Mandir. On the banks of Gadisar Lake, this is yet another marvel of craftsmanship. Glowing like a gemstone in the sun, it has the Shiv parivaar as the deities. At the banks on the lake huge catfish swarm to eat nibblets thrown by the tourists. This is indeed a sight to see.
As the sun descended we decided to head back to Suryagarh, a boutique hotel fort, one of the finest properties of Jaisalmer. Though a man-made structure, the vision of the owner is laudable in its detailing and finesse. The rooms, each of the restaurants, finely manicured lawns, articulately decorated bar, spa, indoor swimming pool and impeccable service indeed show the passion with which it is run. It was one of the most luxurious stay indeed.
The next day we were off to see the Tanot Mata temple at the BSF post. It has a history and a legacy. Shelled with 3000 bombs in the 1965 Indo-Pak war, it stood daunting and strong without a single bomb exploding. People believe that the power and blessings on the deity protected them and it worshipped with fervor. It is said that anything you ask for with a true heart shall have â€œMataâ€™sâ€blessings and I did. I do hope to come back once it is fulfilled, giving myself a reason enough to come back to a city I have thoroughly enjoyed.