After the shower this morning, we all went for darshan at nakodaji again. Felt that the statue of nakoda bhairav was perhaps modelled after a real person – the eyes are colored and made to look natural giving an added effect. Went for breakfast at the bhojanshala. Its an all you can eat for rs 20- given the quality and service levels would put any restaurant to shame. The spread was fresh khaman, khakhra with peanut chutney(dry), sweet kadhi with upma, gathiya, as much tea or milk as you liked. The hall seats 400. A stranger was distributing fresh milkcake as prasad – ate up quickly as the prayed distributed in the temple precinct cannot be taken outside(folklore). Forgot to take a snap of the kalpvriksha.
On the way out went up the steps of the temple of tirthankar shantinathji. (see pic
Proved to be the best of the lot in terms of carvings so far……. Each pillar shows atleast 40 nayikas none alike and the temple has 24 pillars perhaps more. The past lives of sri santinathji and sri parshvanathji are depicted as a series of 3d paintings. there are close to 50 paintings running along the courtyard walls. Stuff loaded in the car left for jaisalmer via pachpadra and onto the mega highway. The higway is smooth as silk – not too well advertised(thank god) and connects us to Jodhpur jaisalmer highway at dechu. (pic attached)
5 km past village thob on the mega highway, in a field to the left of the road, spotted a flock of 200+ cranes. They were feeding on something in the field that I couldn’t identify – perhaps a wild gourd that grows abundantly in the fields in this area – time was 9:45 am.
We left the mega highway at dechu, 130 kms from balotra, having paid toll of rs 45 at kelam kot. Just as we turned narrowly avoided running over a medium sized desert lizard. At 11:30 we were in lava gaon, about 14 km before Pokaran. On the right side was a waterbody that was the rest stop for a flock of about 150 demoiselle cranes or kurja as the birds are called locally. Got a snap of the cormorants on the tree (attached)
From there a fairly uneventful drive to jaisalmer except for my father who had the time of his life by driving at 120 kmph. Entered jaisalmer at 1:00 pm.
Now the hunt for a good hotel began. The first call was to the rtdc hotel moomal. Not only had their charges gone higher than the published rate on the web, they didn’t have any availability for the next night…….another hotelier seemed more promising, he sent a guy on a bike to lead us to his hotel that promised lcd tv, tub bath and other needless mod-cons just half km from where we were!. So, short of a place to stay and already weary from the half day drive, we followed him.
He took us past the bus stand and continued to take us further till about a km and a half. The road got narrower and dusty till we decided his hotel’s location wasn’t going to be as good and stopped to turn back. To our surprise he not only followed us but kept circling our car on his bike asking us to come back. Finally he got quite loud and overly insistent. We were happy to get rid of him. Then I just called manoj of desert boys only to learn there’s no one by that name – his real name was Mehrab – and met him at his restaurant. Leaving our car there, our luggage was taken in an auto to the museum area and then by hand through couple of really narrow lanes to the hotel that’s located in Vyas Para in the fort area (pic of the guest house)
The fort is definitely overgrown and reeling under population pressure, roads are choked and in several parts and people are constructing extensions to the houses and guest houses. The first look at the fort as one enters left me a bit undewhelemed compared to the grand entry of gwalior or mehrangarh, Jodhpur
In this time that had elapsed checking out the other hotel – the first room I had seen was gone – it turned out to be for the better – It was very nicely decorated with Rajasthani mirror work and the bedcovers and curtains were all made of traditional sarees. There was a charkha too :).
The room was located under the burj and had a beautiful view of the city from the windows.
The owner arvind vyas is quite knowledgeable about the jaisalmer area and could make several suggestions about what to visit and what to avoid. Hence after some rest first stop was at the havelis. The Patwa havelis has to be seen to be believed – see the stunning facade.
The rooms are very well preserved, properly labeled and described. The ladies’ dressing room, Kitchen (Seen below) and the munim’s room are especially interesting and give us peep into the objects used one hundred years ago by a rich indian family while the drawing rooms (below) are testimony to the regal standard of living of the patwas.
Some of the most interesting artifacts are weights and measures (including one ser and a chatank), an opium measure and a video camera. Nathmal havelis facade is the only place left now and one can visit upto the atrium. Spent some more time taking shots of streets and the main fort gate before moving to gadisar lake for the sunset.
The lake is pleasant and quiet from a distance though on closer inspection is full of very aggressive looking catfish and a bit dirty so didn’t feel like boating.
Went back to the city past sunset via lakshminarayan temple in the city. Dinner was at the burj that gets wonderfully pleasant and afforded a nice view of the city. City was well lit though diwali decorations not a patch on jaipur.