Although the fort is amazing, we have actually come here for a desert safari! Many people plan a section of the “expedition” to ride on camels, but you know us: we don’t like to support animal exploitation (and they say it’s very uncomfortable!) so the jeep option is the choice. After a very long debate, our travel plan appears to be a mix of popular sightseeing with visits to small villages. Our host and his attendant have bought groceries to prepare fresh food on the spot and brought many litters of water, very necessary to traverse the hot desert.
The first stop is at the royal cenotaphs of Bada Bagh. They were built to house the remains of the maharahas of Jaisalmer, some being in ruins and others rebuilt. We enjoy hanging around them and taking photos.
The jeep bumps through sand, dust in the air, while we see dromedaires grazing along the road and running away from the noisy vehicle, goats and cows crossing any time and a few isolated villages in the middle of the dry environment. We enjoy the tour until the next stop, which is an amazing Jain temple.
We hadn’t heard about Jain religion until we arrived in Rajasthan, but the truth is that here it is quite common (in the city of Jaisalmer, there are 7 Jain temples only inside the fort walls). This being the first we ever visit leaves us impressed. Also the priest inside is quite welcoming and surprisingly—considering all experiences in India—allows us to take all the pictures we want, even with tripod.
The priest explains without much detail or enthousiasm that the temple is devoted to the snake deity. Apart from a shrine containing the idol, there is a picture of a real snake seemingly living here, but we are more than happy with the image than with the real thing.
Our path turns towards one of the oasis of the area. Our chefs start peeling veggies, making fire and prepping food. After not long, a shepard brings his goats, who run towards the water to drink, followed by one of our favs; water buffaloes who drink, pee and do other nasty business before stepping right into the water. On the other side, some villagers bring their cistern trucks and fill them up (after witnessing how animals deposit their… charms in the oasis, we prefer not knowing whether the water is filtered before consuming or not. Eew). Since food is prepared on a small fire, it gives us time to hang out, then have lunch and wait for the heat of the sun to fade a bit. Dishes and pans are cleaned with sand and a towel to eliminate the dust.
Here you can see how our guide makes some chapati, rural style. It is basically wheat floor cooked in a pan called “tava” on woodfire. Chapati is used everywhere in India for eating all kinds of curries and dhals, with the hand.
Here is a video of some water buffaloes arriving to the oasis, drinking and bathing.