While living in Mumbai for the majority of the trip, we were lucky to explore other states, such as Rajasthan and Delhi. Through the connections of our host organisation GCC, Naveen, we were able to have the best getaways. Our recent trip to Rajasthan was unlike any other. I was stunned by how amazing and unique each state of India can be. Rajasthan, in particular Jaisalmer city, was home to the desert, camels, jeeps, sand and cows.
We were generously allowed to stay at both the desert glamping and hotel, owned by the Royal Family, whom Naveen is friends with. We had an amazing glamping experience filled with high tea, camel riding while watching the sunset in the desert, a cultural performance and a buffet dinner. Being in the desert was a first for me and definitely won’t be a last. Despite the 30+ degrees heat, it was all worth it, even the sweaty forehead.
One thing I’ll never say no to is sunsets and sunrises, in which the following morning, I experienced a Jeep safari ride in the desert during sunrise. It was an amazing experience in every way; it didn’t feel physically real. That day we adventured through Jaisalmer city. Our half-broken Hindi put together helped us get through it all. We munched on lunch at 1156, a famous cafe particularly amongst the tourists, before heading to Jaisalmer fort. Little did we know until later that night that the Jaisalmer fort was viewable from our hotel.
Jaisalmer fort was a beautiful experience with a lot of history to be told. Each road within the fort was filled with clothing stores, antiques, gems and more. The best part was finding our way through the maze-like roads to the city view, where we were presented with a 180-degree view of Jaisalmer city.
Daniel, Stirling and I met up with Tabby and Chris for a while, wandering around the Fort, taking in the atmosphere, stalls and architecture. We separated, making our way to Lake Gadisar. Upon arrival, Daniel, Stirling and I saw the Lake with paddle boats; at that moment, we instantly knew we were going to do that. We found our way to the wharf, paid $12 for 3 of us and hopped into a four-person pedal boat. In the nick of time, Tabby and Chris were at the wharf and joined us. Paddling into the middle of the lake, we spotted the other half of our group, who were on a rowboat. What a coincidence. We had such a fun time soaking in the heat, the sunset and being on the lake itself. We were smeared with compliments from other boats about how stunning we (Tabby and I, of course) looked in our traditional Indian wear, upholding such respect for the culture.
That evening we enjoyed time together as a group, with some group members making friends with locals that offered to take us out on their bikes. Meanwhile, I had my first experience driving a moped by myself. We headed back to the hotel: Hotel Nachana Haveli, a 10-minute tuk-tuk away costing $6 for 10 of us. Yes, 10 of us managed to squeeze into one tuk-tuk. We headed to the rooftop restaurant where we thought we were dining as normal guests, but we later found out, as directed by the restaurant staff, to the very top of the building, where we enjoyed private music and dinner, with a view of the Jaisalmer Fort. It was stunning, a moment we couldn’t believe was real. We spent the night dancing, making memories and having fun. We were very thankful to Shaki and his wife (Royal Family) for making it happen.
Sunday, 19th February, our last of the three days in Jaisalmer, was spent enjoying a rooftop breakfast, visiting the Patwon Ki Haveli and a spontaneous bike ride to Badda Bagh with some locals. My first time riding on a bike was a super cool experience while out in Jaisalmer, riding in the desert city.
Apart from all the fun and memories made, there were many differences between Mumbai and Rajasthan. I found the people in Rajasthan to be more welcoming, friendly and not as pushy. People would greet me with a ‘namaste’ in the mornings and thank me for respecting their culture as I wore a Salwar Kameez. When walking amongst the shops, I would usually be offered by store vendors to purchase their items, but not more than once. This compares to Mumbai, where store vendors would continue despite saying no. The roads were much quieter, and people obliged with road rules better, hence the bike riding experience. There were more tourists in Rajasthan, and it was not as crowded/populated as in Mumbai. It is a desert city, so instead of dust covering the streets, it was always sand. Due to not having as much access to resources such as water and milk, a lot of this comes from animals and having to preserve or obtain these resources elsewhere. It is a very dry state filled with forts and beautiful architecture.
Jaisalmer, I will see you again.