The shopping spree had just soared but we had to curtly cut it down and hurry up to the desert safari. We rushed to our hotel at 3pm late by almost 2hours and jump started our desert safari trip arranged by FIFU hotel which included covering Ludarva, Bada Bagh, Kuldhaara and the Sam Sand Dunes.
It was a 40 km long jeep drive to the SAM sand dunes. On the way we visited
Ludarva or Lodhurva named after the Lodhra Rajputs was once the ancient capital of the Bhati Rajputs who ruled Jaisalmer. It has a 10th century Jain temple which is really a marvelous structure.
We then headed to Bada Bagh
Bada Bagh used to be a huge garden next to an artificial lake during the prosperous times of the Rajputana rule. It was built by Maharaja Rawal Jai Singh II. Today it is left with many cenotaphs or the Chhathris built in memory of the Jaisalmer rulers.
The Chhathris are a dome shaped structure typical of Rajasthani architecture built on top of most monuments as a symbol of royal lineage, pride and honor that were later adopted by the Mughals in their architecture.
The Bada Bagh has 22 chhathris symbolizing the cenotaphs of 22 kings which were built by their sons or grandsons as it was the royal tradition. Under the chhathris are many Sati stones installed in memory of the queens who jumped into their husband’s pyres.
The Sati system was rampant in Rajasthan those days along with Jauhar and Saka.
Saka was a tradition the warrior men folk followed by wearing Kesariya (war turbans) after their women committed Jauhar, they headed with all their might for a do or die battle and fought the enemy bravely.
However this ancient structure stands resplendently and looks stunning from all angles it is a great place for photography.
Our drive continued on the empty roads devoid of any habitation only broad stretches of sand lay along the sides of the road, sights of camels strolling now and then coupled with the afternoon breeze made it a memorable drive that I will never forget.
They were an intelligent group of people who built houses built a dam at the foot of a mountain in order to collect water from the passing rains. They cultivated water intensive crops like wheat in gypsum rich areas. They challenged the harsh weathers and lived self-sufficiently employing everything around them to use for over 500years here.
As we entered the Kuldhara village gate an expanse of dusty straight roads leading into a well-planned layout of houses that lie in rubbles cried for our attention. Some houses had parking lots for carts.
It is believed that each Paliwal Bramin moving into this community was given a brick stone along with a gold coin from each house of this community to support the new neighbors which is suggestive of the unity and harmony that they lived with.
The history goes like this Saalem Singh the diwan of Jaisalmer unethically harassed the womenfolk of the community. He set his lusty eyes on the beautiful daughter of the chief to include her in his harem. He threatened them with dire consequences and heavy taxes on refusal. Unable to cope with the tyranny in order to save the honor of their women the 84 villages of Paliwal Bramins left their homes at midnight and cursed that no one could ever live in their settlements.
Till date no one has ever been able to live here.
It was completely desolate and could hear only the gushing winds.
It is believed to be a haunted area even the Paranormal society GRIP (Ghost Research & Investigators of Paranormal Society) have confirmed the presence of high paranormal energies here.
Alas! I didn’t meet the ghosts. But I wondered why they had to haunt here when Saalem Singh’s Haveli is right there in Jaisalmer.
It was a nice experience as I like to know about ruins and their history.
You can appreciate this place only if you have a keen eye for history and have the love to understand ancient lifestyles.
By now we were already late and hurried to Sam Sand Dunes making sure not to miss the Sunset.
SAM SAND DUNES
We reached the Sam our tents were located right beside the dunes. The camels waited for us to alight them we dumped our bags in the tent drank gallons of water and hurried for the camel ride.
It was evening time and weather was much less harsher I wondered if these ships of the desert cursed the tourism industry for glorifying their title when they probably never wanted to ship anybody anywhere.
Remember to keep all your floppy slinging stuff back in the tent as the silken sand will simply swallow it up deep inside in case you drop it in the dunes.
The fun had just began with the roller coaster like camel ride, the camels traversed with ease on the sand slopes which was quiet an adventure initially till we stopped concentrating on the camel sat upright and simply started looking at the ocean of brown silk glistening around us.
The camels trekked some distance that was full of thorny shrubs and I prayed hard that it didn’t drop us on one of those bushes. We then ascended a vast bush less dune which was a perfect place to view the sun set. It was the best experience viewing endless stretches of sand.
Sand sand sand everywhere
Miles of golden silk affair
A walk on the dunes with feet bare
Is a caressing warm touch of care
sitting on top of the desert mare
Viewing the golden hue glare
Is to my eye a lavish fair
The sand mafia if ever they tear
Into the dunes Oh Sam beware!
We played a lot in the sand. and soon it was sun set time.
Since it had rained recently my dream of capturing the bush less desert in the camera was shattered with the many thorny bushes that had appeared after the rains. If you want to get some amazing shots of the sand dunes you have to sweat it out in the hot sun deep in the desert. The dunes smile their golden smiles only when the Sun glares ragingly at them.
It was an amazingly beautiful moment to watch the sun sink into the dunes turning the horizon crimson creating a fascinating aura. We clicked some shots and then got back to the play in the sand again. Stepping on desert sand is a very different experience the warm smooth touch of the sand was more like a spa to the feet. We soaked and struck our legs into the warm sand to relieve the day’s weariness only to be warned of desert snakes and scorpions by the camel mahout.
We tried our best to make a castle but you can never make a sand castle in a sand dune coz the sand is so silky it simply slips out of your grip every time.
It was dark by now we rode back on the camels and could spot our tents at a distance that looked like small huts glowing with dim lights the only lights in the whole vicinity of the silent dunes which reminded me the story of an old hag’s hut in the middle of nowhere.
As we neared our tents I could hear dholak beats the musicians were gearing up for the evening performance. We quickly freshened up and headed straight to experience cultural extravagance.
The troop of singers who also played typical Rajasthani instruments like dholak, Karthaal and Kamaicha completely enthralled us with folk songs many of their songs like moreni from the movie Lamhe and Nimbuda Nimbuda from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam have been robbed and modified by Bollywood biggies.
The music was followed by a Rajasthani dance of tumkas we too joined and had fun. I tried my hands at playing the Karthaal instrument but it was very difficult.
Karthaal is an instrument with 2 separate wood pieces one of which is held in the thumb and the other on the rest of the fingers that are tapped against each other.
The cultural events were nostalgic we had our dinner and watched the million twinkling stars in the crystal clear sky.
Watching the night sky in the desert is bliss. Sky was never so beautiful ever as it appeared in the desert.
We headed to our tent and jumped up to see many wild bugs crawling into the tent. It was an ordinary tent with buttoned doors hence we decided to head back to our a/c room in Jaisalmer. We should have probably booked the swiss tents that are much more comfortable with zipped doors that would have kept the scary creatures away or maybe we were expecting too much in an arid desert.
Overall the Sam Sand Dunes was an awesome experience and would love to go back there again and try the early morning safari as well that we had missed.