In midst of the pile of new year resolutions, which keeps coming and going through one’s mind, a new year trip would be top of the chart for every traveller out there. As they say, you would be doing the same thing whole year, I would love to explore the world; hands down, no second thoughts about it. So, there are various ways to celebrate the new year. One can do bar hopping in one of the best places for the same, e.g. Goa, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi and Pune. If you are not a partygoer and don’t want to drill a hole in your pocket, then nature’s nest can be your call. Northern India would be mercilessly cold around new year, but if you want some adventure and want to try your luck with fresh snowfall you can head for Manali or parvati valley. Southern India would have good weather, beaches, crowd and good places to hangout, but if you are from Northern part of the country the flight bookings have to be done in advance else whole of your budget would go into flights only. Those of you who don’t want to go to mountains or beaches, and reside in North India can try checking out desert this time.
When you say desert, Rajasthan and Jaisalmer are the synonyms for it. If you live in Jaipur or Delhi, a road trip to Jaisalmer via Pushkar — Jodhpur or Mandawa — Bikaner can be a good idea to spend your new year. With Rajasthan’s rich heritage, exotic architecture and delicious food, the roads are boon to drive on and thir good condition allows all sort of cars to drive down towards the desert.
Jaisalmer is located in the western part of Rajasthan, about 550 to 600 kms from state capital Jaipur. Also known as “Golden City” because of its sandstone architecture, Jaisalmer is heart of the Thar desert. You can customize your trip according to the number of days you have. For example you can go Jaipur — Ajmer/Pushkar — Jodhpur — Jaisalmer if you have 4–5 days(I’ll be writing about this itinerary soon) , else you can just stick to Jaisalmer.
You can reach Jaisalmer by train or bus which you can easily find via Jaipur or Jodhpur. Also you can look for flights as Jaisalmer airport recently started functioning and there are regular flights to Jodhpur via Delhi and Jaipur. But I’ll recommend you to drive your own vehicle, because that way you’ll be able to explore nearby places according to your comfort. While booking your hotel make sure it’s on main road and have parking facilities.
After reaching to Jaisalmer, you can start the trip by visiting the city, as I mentioned earlier Jaisalmer is also known as golden city and trust me it is. Every house is made up of sandstone and carved beautifully with colorful paintings on walls. To enjoy the city to the fullest, park your car at your hotel and then visit city on foot or in auto as you’ll be able to explore the city in better way also at some places the streets are narrow which can cause problems.
Skyline of Jaisalmer is dominated by beautiful Jaisalmer fort. It is believed to be one of the very few (perhaps the only) “living forts” in the world, as nearly one fourth of the old city’s population still resides within the fort.
Another great sample of great architecture is Patwon ki haveliyan. It’s basically palaces built in 1800s, which is now converted into museum. You’ll be fascinated by the artwork and get to understand lifestyle of that era. You can also see local textile shops there.
You can roam around in the local market, have a great shopping session if you are a shopaholic like me and top of it can enjoy local food.
Another attraction in Jaisalmer is Gadisar lake which you should visit in the evening at the time of sunset. It is usually crowded with tourists and locals but you can still find some place where you can sit peacefully, you can also go for boating inside the lake, pedal boats can be taken for the purpose.
At night you can go to The Trio(location attached) and have candle light dinner with view of Jaisalmer fort in the background.
There are a plenty of options to explore near Jaisalmer, but if you want to see the desert at its peak you have to go around the city. So, after checking out from your hotel room, head towards Ramgarh town, after having quick snacks there, you can go to Longewala war memorial, on Longewala post located near India Pakistan border. Marking the spot of a 1971 battle featured in famous bollywood flick ‘Border’, it shows the aftermath of the war between Pakistan and India through a range of military item. You’ll feel proud to see how our defense forces work selflessly for us and is ready to answer any attack. Drive to longewala in itself is very fascinating, one reason is that roads are great also you’ll be amazed to see how people survive in the remotest of areas with so little resources.
Another big attraction are the massive wind mills on the way, the sheer size of these wind mills will amaze you and the mere presence will bring that little kid out of you, and guess what you can drive right up to these mills as many of them near to the road.
After Longewala you can go to famous Tanot temple via Sadewala village / post, another war location which hosted Indo-Pak war of 1965. The Tanot temple is known for its immunity from heavy artillery firing done by Pakistani forces in 1965 and 1971 wars. To this date, the temple is being managed by BSF forces posted here. If you able to obtain a permission from BSF IG office in Jaisalmer, you can actually go upto ‘Border Pillar 609’, which is around 10 kms from Tanot all upto India Pak border just next to border fencing. It is an fascinating moment seeing, Pakistani posts on border.
After seeing Tanot, you can head towards Kuldhara, famous 18th Century haunted ruins, known for its picturous location which has attracted a lot of movie sequences as well. Remember Rangeela’s ‘Hey Rama’ song, it has been shot there only. Afterwards, go straight to the Sam village for catching an unforgettable sunset, and here comes a tip — instead of parking your car out and becoming a part of the crowd just go straight to the RTDC Sam Dhani Resort, where you can park your car without any hustle and can enjoy the sunset from best possible location with tea and snacks.
As sam will be very crowded as it has a lot of desert camps, I would suggest you to book a desert camp located away from Sam or in Khuri around 25 kms from Sam but at same distance from Jaisalmer. One suggestion can be Resort Rawla.
This way you can enjoy the camel or jeep safari without too much of crowd. Enjoy the sunset in sam then head back to your camp. Enjoy the dinner with music and dance performance around a bonfire. Later you can also dance with the performers if you want.
Next morning head back to your place with lots of memories and refreshed mind.