The Lure of Desert Sands
While travel most often seems to begin with a thought and the near-immediate execution of the same, circumstances can sometimes prevent you from making a much desired trip for years. Such has been the case with me and the desert sands of Rajasthan. Despite having spent the bulk of my childhood in Delhi, with parents very willing to travel, I somehow never made it to any of the famed palaces of Rajasthan, let alone ride a camel. (In fact, the only camel-riding memory of mine comes from a visit to a zoo, I think in Madras/Chennai).
And as usually happens, the lure of an unvisited place multiplies in strange ways. I read stories set in the desert, and watched films with the desert as a backdrop – notably Satyajit Ray’s Sonar Kella, which sees the intrepid Feluda, a detective, traipsing across from Calcutta (Kolkata) to Jaisalmer on the tracks of a kidnapped boy who has had visions that he was once a prince whose family lived in the Jodhpur palace. It was a fabulous way of immortalizing Jaisalmer, whose fort is actually called the Golden Fort by the locals (as Wikipedia tells me).
As if this wasn’t enough, every time I mentioned the name Jaisalmer I’d find one or the other acquaintance gushing about camping in the desert, about passing Pokhran (the site of India’s nuclear tests) along the way, the desert festival that happens every January/February, the camel ride to the sand dunes way out in the Thar – so much that I’ve sworn not to talk about the place until I actually visit there. But it’s still hard to stop dreaming about camel safaris and desert sunsets…
The most recent reminder to me that I must make a trip to the desert came via a random exploration of Indian Railways routes, and a discussion with a friend on the same. Apparently, the train journey from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer is one to die for. Given that I’m the least reluctant person around when it comes to traveling by train, this was the ultimate in terms of whetting my appetite. And yet, as one might often hear in India, the muhurat (or auspicious time) hasn’t yet arrived, when I can finally go say my hellos to the desert.
Above was a post by Bucketeer Raghu
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