While in Jaisalmer a visit to the famous Sam Sand Dunes is a must to have an up-close feel of the Thar Desert. We had planned an overnight trip to the dunes, as we wanted to include some of the offbeat places around Jaisalmer. The drive around the remote locations of Rajasthan was an incredible experience for us and we would love to relive the whole trip again. After spending an entire day far away from the modern life, it was truly an amazing feeling and if you are looking for a day trip/ overnight trip from Jaisalmer, here are the top 6 things to do:
1. Royal Cenotaphs of BadaBagh
A few kms away from Jaisalmer, our first stop was the Bada Bagh, which is a garden with cenotaphs, or Chhatris built in the memory of the Royals. As we reached the Chhatris a young fellow who works as a part-time guide there gave us a detailed insight of the place. It was interesting to know that the garden was originally commissioned in 16th century to have a pond and mango tree groves in order to make the desert look greener. But later on the cenotaphs were built as a tribute to the Bhatti clan. We climbed atop the hill of the garden and the panoramic view of the sandstone structures with windmills rotating in the distance was breathtaking.
2. Remains of Lodurva Jain Temple
Lodurva is the former capital of the Bhatti dynasty before they built the Fort in Jaisalmer and made it their capital. Once a thriving town, now only the ruins from the result of many attacks can be seen in this ancient town. We visited the famous Jain Temple of Lodurva, which was originally destroyed in 1152 during the attack by Muhammad Ghori and restores later in 20th Century. The temple signifies the glory of the old times and has some very intricate work on the jhaalis and arches.
Outfit details: Shirt dress: Daisy Street, Sunglass: Propshop24, Earrings: Lowrys Farm, Neckpiece: Pull&bear
3. The haunted village of Kuldhara
This was one of the most anticipated part of our Jaisalmer trip and after listening to the interesting tales about the place we couldn’t wait to visit it. As per the locals, “Kuldhara was once a flourishing village, which was inhabited by the Paliwal Brahmins for centuries. About 200 years ago, one of the ministers of the state, Salim Singh set eyes on the village head’s daughter and wanted to marry her. When they were threatened with dire consequences, the scared villagers along with the residents of 84 related villages fled from the village overnight. Although there is no further proof on where the villagers moved to, it is believed that the girl was killed before their departure and the door of the village was painted with her blood. Thus casting a curse of death to whoever decides to settle here.”
Today the abandoned village is just rubble of broken houses and the government conserves these remains as heritage sites. As we climbed to the roof of one of the houses we could see nothing but run-down structures to long distance giving the certain kind of mystic atmosphere. While we did not encounter any sort of supernatural activities, we could not help but wonder what happened to all the villagers who disappeared from the village.
4. Peacock viewing at the Khaba Fort
A short drive through the smaller abandoned villages took us to one of the oldest forts of the area, i.e., the Khaba Fort. The fort now houses some fossil stones display, which we would say is terribly maintained but the beautiful view that awaits from the top of the fort makes up for it. What delighted us the most was the numerous peacocks wandering around the fort and this makes a very lovely picture with the distant village in the backdrop.
5. Ride the camel at Sam Sand Dunes
Journey to the Thar is incomplete without taking a camel ride through the desert. Although we were quite freaked out for the first couple of minutes, the 45 minute ride was quite fun as the camels threaded their way through the sand dunes. The little guy who was guiding the camel made a stop for couple of minutes so that we could enjoy the sunset and dip our feet in the sand. It was a peaceful experience in all to sit back and relax watching the sun go down across myriad sand dunes.
After the camel safari we reached the campsite where we were staying for the night. After some well deserved refreshments we enjoyed the traditional folk dance and music with bonfire keeping us warm during the cold night. The beautiful performance was followed by delicious dinner of local Rajasthani delicacies. The tent where we stayed was clean and swish with modern amenities and attached bathroom. It was an enjoyable experience for us to stay in the middle of nowhere on a cold winter night and come next morning we learnt that there was storm during the night, which we had no idea about ;).
Note: The Camel Safari and the camp was a package deal from the Winds Desert Camp and you can know more about it here.