The golden city of Jaisalmer is a labyrinth of stone and sunlight. Its greatest feature, the Jaisalmer Fort rises out of a hill, rolling through the cloudless sky with a wave of curved outer walls. Built from yellow sandstone, it glows in the heart of Thar desert. One may find it hard to believe the structure is a fort and not a great sand castle from a child’s dream.
We let ourselves get lost in its narrow streets and web of walkways. The gold walls create a camouflage and new alleys appear from nowhere on previously well-explored streets. We progress slowly down one, admiring all the fine details in the windows that seem to be carved from fine lace. We soon discover ourselves back where we started, somehow the new street wrapped back into the old. Getting lost is an easy past-time here.
We come across a cozy art gallery and Richard buys a painting from an artist. A somewhat cartoon-like rendition of an old king. It’s quirky, colorful and totally India. The owner tells us to stay and have some of the “best chai tea in the world” with him, his mom will make it for us. We stay and the chai tea is quite good, more spicy than others we have had and a lovely sweetness fills my senses. We chit chat with him about life, art, family and soon we are on our way again. Indians love to talk, and with the smallest smile one can find themselves witness to a kind hospitality and openness that is hard to find elsewhere. Next, we discover a lunch spot on top of a roof that overlooks the temple nearby. It makes a gorgeous backdrop as we eat our meal between panels of fabric floating in the breeze.
To top off our visit, we walk the outer walls at sunset. They become a scene out of Arabian Nights, flush with an amber bloom of color cast from the horizon beyond. Lights start to twinkle on in the city below and we retreat back to our room. Every now and then, we brush past a cow or two through the city streets.
Back in our yellow room that sits atop the fort’s walls, Richard reads Shantaram in bed while I type away, trying to record this magical place the best I can. Out of all our stops in India, Jaisalmer rises quickly to the top, the memory of sand, gold and sun resting peacefully in my mind.
Where We Stayed – Our room in Jaisalmer was one of our best in India. It was a royal residence turned Airbnb. Our host was lovely and our room was beautiful.
Explore – While the inner city in the fort is where we spent most of our time, I also recommend seeing the city outside of the walls. Take time to see the Patwaon-Ki-Haveli, an amazing piece of architecture.
Where to Eat – The best restaurant in town hands down is 1st Gate just outside the fort walls. It has the best view of the fort with really amazing food and service.