Jaisalmer… once more

“You are going to Jaisalmer for a weekend? To experience monsoons there?” asks my brother, his bemusement loud and clear over phone.

“Yes,” I reply.

“Last I knew, Jaisalmer was a desert and it doesn’t rain there,” he says. “Has climate change brought about rains there?”

“Very funny,” I retort.

“But seriously, people come to Mumbai, your city, to experience the rains, and you want to experience monsoons elsewhere ?

“It will be nice to experience the rains elsewhere for a change.”

“It has to rain in the first place ! Besides, weren’t you in Jaisalmer just 5 months back? Why do you want to go back so soon?” my brother persists.

I had asked myself these questions when I received an invitation from Suryagarh in Jaisalmer to host me and experience the magic of monsoons in the desert. A luxury boutique hotel, Suryagarh wished to showcase “a representation of a unique way of life, carefully preserving the traditions of…[the] past [and] framing them in a modern idiom”. The invitation also invited me to “celebrate the exuberance of Monsoons with us… [where] Jaisalmer transforms its barren beauty into inimitable patches of green pastures, lush oasis brimming with water and newness in all forms of life”.

I was tempted. Very tempted to say yes immediately, particularly as this was an invitation for a visit over a weekend which meant that this wouldn’t interfere with my office work. But I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back to Jaisalmer, a place I had visited earlier in February this year and had come back with mixed feelings. While I had loved the old world charm of the Jaisalmer Fort, its havelis, wall art and Jain temples, I found it hard to ignore the unimaginable filth all over the city and or the overwhelming sadness and grief that I felt when I visited the royal cenotaphs. But then, another part of me (the one that wanted me to accept the invitation) said that this was the chance to see the many places that I had missed out on seeing and of course experience the rains in a different setting and context.

I rarely say no to an opportunity to travel, but this was a difficult choice to make. So, I decided to take the help of good old Google and get some information on Suryagarh which would (hopefuuly) help me decide on whether this invitation was worth it or not.

A search on Suryagarh threw up the usual links and glowing testimonials on various sites (including blogs), interesting trivia (an episode of Season 2 of Masterchef India was filmed here), many photographs, and quite a few links leading to the owner of Suryagarh, Manvendra Singh Shekhawat. This is turn led me to the “I love Jaisalmer” campaign, which was initiated in March 2013 by Manvendra, and something I was unaware of till then.

As I read about the campaign through various updates on its Facebook page, various news reports and videos, it was with an increasing sense of delight that something was being done to clean up Jaisalmer and give it the chance to really claim the title of the golden city. After reading all about the campaign, I knew I had to visit Jaisalmer again and I accepted Suryagarh’s offer to host me without too much of a hesitation.

And that is how I spent the weekend of August 3 and 4 at Suryagarh, and experienced travel from a very different and unique perspective. I also got the chance to finally meet with some fellow bloggers that I had only interacted with on social media before — Mridula, Shivya and Anuradha — and also those with whom I had not — Supriya, Anita, Ruchika, Neelima and Preeti.

Hotel Suryagarh, Luxury Hotel, Jaisalmer
The sun rises over Suryagarh

“Well, I’m going back to Jaisalmer because I want to,” I say. “I want to see all that I had missed out on last time. I want to see if the city has really cleaned up. And I want to experience the rains in the desert…”

“Okay, okay,” my brother says. “I hope you get to experience at least one drizzle there.”

“Oh I think I’ll experience more than just one drizzle.”

Second chances, second time or revisits to places that I have travelled to earlier is something that I had not experienced before. Till this visit to Jaisalmer, that is. It is a visit that I made the most of, saw some new places, saw some places I had visited earlier in February, enjoyed local cuisine, music, and so much more.

And did I experience the magic of monsoons in Jaisalmer? Well, you’ll just have to come back and read the posts to follow. 😀

♦   ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦

Read my other posts from the Suryagarh series:

36 thoughts on “Jaisalmer… once more

    1. Thank you, Jas. And to my surprise I found that this so-called off-season is a good time for there are no tourist hordes and in many places our group was the only one there 🙂

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    1. It was the thought of a different experience and the hoe to see a clean Jaisalmer that compelled me to accept the invitation from my host, Suryagarh. And I’m glad I did as I saw a Jaisalmer that I completely missed last time. 🙂

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    1. Yes, I consider myself very lucky to have visited Jaisalmer twice. I did not do the chudail trail as I had hurt my leg, but the others in my group did and they have written about it / will be writing about it on their blogs. But I visited Kuldhara, one of the sites on the trail, when I had visited Jaisalmer in Februrary. 🙂

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  1. Having read some of your travel posts, including on Rajasthan, I am certainly looking forward to some interesting and off-beat travel posts from you Sudhagee. More so, because I have not seen any place in that state except Jaipur.

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    1. You must visit Jaisalmer, Alarmelvalli. The lansdscape, the desertscape and the vastness is something else altogether. People say they feel dwarfed by mountains. Well, I felt like that in the plain, vast, emptiness of the desert.

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    1. Thank you, Anu. The second time in Jaisalmer was so different from my first time that I am actually wondering if I should revisit all the places I have travelled to before 🙂 I have 3 more posts lined up of Jaisalmer. Hope you enjoy those too !

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    1. Welcome here and thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. 🙂 We were 9 of us at Suryagarh so yes, you are going to read a lot about this faulous place and our experiences there in the coming week or so.

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    1. Suresh, there are two types of monsoons in the world. The ones in Mumbai and ones elsewhere in the world. I love rains anywhere in the world, even the bleak one in London. So the rains in Jaisalmer was another experience altogether 🙂

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  2. This seems to be far better than tv serials…suspense, doubt, magic, monsoon, travel..and the quintessential question..what happens next? Will Sudha experience more than one drizzle? Can’t wait to know more…:-)

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  3. Waiting to read more here. I’m off to Jaisalmer in Novemeber for a 3N – 4D trip. Will be great to hear recommendations from you, even greater if they come in an email 🙂

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    1. That’s wonderful. And I hope that by the time you go to Jaisalmer, the “I love Jaisalmer” campaign would have made further inroads into cleaning the city and who knows, you just might be looking at a model tourist city in India. Do read my Jaisalmer posts and I will send you the interesting tidbits about the city for mail. Yes, there are some which is not meant to be shared in a public space like this 😉

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