Dec 23, 2007
: Though we won't be doing a desert safari, word is that the ones run out of Bikaner are much more authentic.
Jaisalmer, deemed the Golden City of India due to everything being built of the local gold-colored sandstone, is the last bastion of 'civilization' in northeastern India as the Thar Desert engulfs ever other plac ein the region. It is highlighted by a massive fort, golden of course, which towers above the town. Inside the walled structure is a vibrant city housing 25% of Jaisalmer's population. There are houses, hotels, market areas, and the requisite cows. Unfortunately, the hotels here are thriving as vacationers fancy spending a night inside a fort. This is unfortunate because the increase in demand on the sewer and drainage systems is eroding the fort's foundation. Anyway, we timed our arrival here to coincide with the Desert Festival, a 3 day cultural celebration of life in the Thar Desert. The first day entailed interesting contests such as Mr. Desert and Ms. Desert, a moustache competition, and night performances of Rajasthani folk dances. The second day was highlighted by the camel polo match, viewing the sunset on the city and towering fort, and more night performances. The third day was the end of the festival and took place 50 km outside of Jaislamer in the Sam sand dunes. The prototype scenery, with sweeping sand dunes, provided the background for the camel races, grand singing and dance performances, as well as the opportunity to spend the night in the desert. Set up through Kamal at Thar Safari, we enjoyed a night in the desert, choosing to stay in Swiss tents and experience a bit of desert life. The following day we explored more of th fort and took a bus for Bikaner.