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Name : Tomosha Bhattacharjee  [On Feb 27, 2011]

State : RJ

Title : A STATE OF FORTS AND DESERT

Article :

Rajasthan has always been referred to as a kaleidoscope of wonder. Yes, it does have an aura about it that draws visitors from all over the world. I too had longed to visit this much hyped state of forts, palaces and desert. So when the opportunity did come my way, I made the best of it. The trip was just for seven days so we could just cover certain parts of Rajasthan. After much deliberation the places we chose to visit were Jaipur, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Bundi. Since we were hard pressed for time we decided to take a morning flight to Delhi and once in the capital we had no problem in boarding a bus bound for Jaipur. Buses are frequent and they run well too... We reached Jaipur in the evening and the hotel we put up in provided us with enough comfort to rest our aching limbs.

      After a good night's rest we went for local sightseeing the next day. The pink city as Jaipur is popularly known is actually old Jaipur which is one of India's best planned cities. The credit for this goes to Vidhyadhar Bhattacharya, the chief architect from Bengal who laid out the city according to the ancient architectural manual. The colour pink is traditionally is associated with hospitality, our guide told us and Maharaja Ram Singh painted the city pink to welcome King Edward V11. I was quite surprised to learn that the dwellers of old Jaipur are compelled by law to preserve the pink color.
     All the tourist attractions are in and around the old city. The city undoubtedly has a timeless appeal with its palaces and bazaars where you can spend hours without getting the least bit bored. The places we visited in Jaipur were the City palaces, Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal, Amber Palace, Jaigarh. Since much has been about these places my writing about the tourist spots would be like carrying coal to New castle. Suffice to say that each of these places is a marvel to behold each having its own distinct feature; the commonality being the vibrancy, the riot of colours and the resplendent splendor.
    The distance between Jaipur and Bikaner-Our next destination- is around 334 km. Bikaner famous for its camels, is close to the Thar Desert. On reaching Bikaner we went straight to visit the Junagarh Fort which I found very striking. The palaces inside the fort were made of red sand stone and marble. Of the many palaces I found the Chandra Mahal exquisitely beautiful with its paintings, mirrors and carved panels. We also went to visit the camel farm. I had never before in my life seen so many camels, all herded together in enclosures quite indifferent to the stares of hundreds of tourists who had come to visit the farm. Visitors could buy camel skin shoes and bags of their choice from the farm. We returned to the hotel in the evening on the way we tasted Bikaner's famous raj kachoris and chats.
    Early next morning we set out for the golden city -Jaisalmer- made popular to the Indian tourist by Satyajit Ray through his film Sonar Kella. The fort of Jaisalmer is an imposing structure made of soft yellow sandstone & this is the only fort in Rajasthan which houses an entire town within its rampart. It’s a throbbing pulsating fort where one can find locals engaged in a plethora of activities. We walked down the cobwebs of lanes in the fort lined with shops Havelis and three beautifully sculptured Jain temple. This fort has a life of its own quite unlike the other forts of the state. One can loiter in the fort for hours watching the activities going on and also observing with wonder how new structures have sprung up in this ancient fort. Tourists visiting Jaisalmer usually go for a camel safari to Sam .But we decided to visit Khuri sand dunes. Although we could ride on camel to the sand dunes but I couldn't summon enough courage to ride on a camel back so we decided to take a camel cart. The ride was pleasant enough but I was very disappointed on seeing the dunes. There were no ripples to be seen on the on the dunes,this was due to the fact that hundreds of tourists had made the dunes their playground. So khuri dunes weren't as picturesque as I expected it to be.   
Next evening we went on a package Trip to Sam dunes situated about 42 kms from Jaisalmer. The sand here was yellow quite unlike the dunes of khuri which appeared silver in colour. As per the arrangement made we had ride on camel back to see the sunset in the dunes. Watching a camel ambling across a road or in the desert is one thing but riding on it is quite another. But riding on a camel when in a desert is a must if you want to get the feel of the desert. Even before I had settled comfortably on its back, the camel rose on its hind feet precariously, I nearly landed on its neck the very next moment when it raised its fore legs I felt I would nearly falloff its back.  I felt rather uncomfortable  although camels unlike horses never throw tantrums yet their gait is rather clumsy, I felt balancing on the camel back quite awkward. The camel trotted towards the dunes while I sat stiff on it getting down from its back was another experience. For a smooth descend one has to lean back, I learnt later. Here on the Sam dunes at least we could see the ripples on the sand. We sat on the sand for a while enjoying the desert scenario. The camel resting on the desert looked splendid indeed. It was golden yellow as far as the eyes could see. As dusk descended we walked towards the tents where camp fire was arranged. We spent the evening around the camp fire arranged for tourists where some local folk singers and dancers entertained us, the air had got quite chilly by that time, so when we were served with Rajasthani cuisine for dinner we had It fast and started off for our hotel.

      We visited Jodhpur and Bundi next. Our stay in these places was just for a day each. However I feel the splendor of the deserts of Rajasthan surpasses that of the majestic forts.

Copyright@Tomosha Bhattacharjee