You can compare Ladakh with Kashmir, Manali with Darjeeling, Shimla with shit but Thar Desert is uniquely beautiful. It’s completely different in culture, landscapes, sunset, forts, you name it.
No. of days: 3
Expected cost per person: Rs. 4500
Route: Chandigarh- Bikaner- Jaisalmer-Jodhpur
Day 1: Bikaner (You can skip)
We took Kalka- Barmer Chandigarh express which leaves at 10 PM, reaches Bikaner at 10:45 AM. Always take a night train, you can save time and cost of hotel room. First we went to Bikaner fort. We left our bags on counter (for a day). It’s a good fort, well maintained, just like all other forts of Rajasthan. We finished it in an hour. Had great Dal-Bati lunch near Bus Stand. And took a bus for Gajner. We knew about Gajner palace and Gajner sanctuary, what we didn’t know was its private and costs Rs.3000.
Bus drops you on highway, 3 km away from Gajner. Auto takes you to village Rs.10 per head. We went straight into sanctuary and it was beautiful. It was like forest from animated movies. Lake, greenery, deer running around, peacocks. Unfortunately some villagers caught us after an hour and told us about King and his private sanctuary. We saw Gajner Palace from other side of lake and came back to Bikaner. Had an experience with fully loaded Rajasthan bus.
After that we went to Deshnok – Karni Mata temple (Goddess of rats). And it was ewwwwww. Rats all around, No place to step and ewwww. I entered in temple and left in 23 seconds. Recharged our mobiles on Deshnok station and went back to Bikaner. We took a train for Jaisalmer at night (Saving some hotel cost).
3 foreigners from Canada and Spain were with us in same coach. And few half literate Indians were annoying them. I know my English is bad but their grammar gave me migraine. Still remember ‘India gold cock: भारत कभी सोने की चिड़िया थी’
Day 2: (Jaisalmer)
It was 5 AM, February morning. Even my sweater was frozen. We got ready on platform (chilled water) and took an auto to city which dropped us near fort. Hot kachori and tea at 6 AM. Things like these is why I love traveling. Unknown city, Dark morning time, snacks and very friendly people telling us to beware of people from sand dunes.
We took a long walk up the fort. When we reached the top, sun was just emerging from desert. Pure gold bright and chill air. We took some snaps, museum was not opened yet. We wandered in fort. Best part, people still live in that fort. All houses are like palaces with beautiful artwork. If those houses were in delhi, they were a tourist destination. Then we wandered in city for an hour. It was strangely peaceful. We wanted to see some famous hawelis but none were open that time. We still took some snaps from outside, had another daal- something rajasthani dish from local vender near fort and went to rent a two wheeler (best decision).
There are many places to visit in Jaisalmer and only way you can finish it in a day, is to have your own vehicle. We took following route.
Gadisar Lake: Good. Full of catfish (I hate those fish, they are ugly. Feeling is mutual.) Then we drove 12 KM to Jaisalmer war museum.
Jaisalmer War Museum: Awesome. Listen to those war stories. It gives goosebumps. Well maintained army operated museum. This museum is better than Kargil war memorial. You must visit here. All war trophies (Tanks and aero planes of Pakistan has kept here.) Notice flag of Pakistan on every tank, its inverted. Smile. We drove back to city, had lunch and went to other side of city for further sightseeing.
Bada Bagh: Great. There are many cenotaphs for all Kings who ruled there. It’s beautiful. You can see hundreds of windmills on the way to Bada bagh. Driving through desert and windmills on side, it was one of the best drive ever.
Amar Sagar Temple: We went there, didn’t enter. Not interested in temples so we clicked some pics and drove away.
Jain Temple: Listen to Jain mythological stories. According to their mythology, in the beginning of satyug, there were Kalpavrikshas on earth which used to complete all your wishes. A copy of such tree is there in temple. It’s silent and peaceful.
Kuldhara Haunted Village: One of the top ten haunted places in India. This village was abandoned for some reason and it is haunted for some reason. We tried to find ghost but couldn’t. We had to leave early because we had to reach Sam dunes by 5 PM.
Parasailing: Just little before Sam Sand Dunes, there is a parasailing field. We bargained in Rs.300 each and I think it was a pretty sweet deal. Floating in air with desert all around with hint of sunset on horizon. It was amazing. It’s so different from Parasailing/ paragliding in mountains. You should try it sometime.
Sam Sand Dunes: Main attraction and one thing that makes Jaisalmer one of my top 5 experiences. Many camel owners are going to stop your vehicles on road. We went straight to end point. We booked a camel for Rs.100. But even we fell for their trap. It just take you to nearest hill which was a sunset point. To go to Thar Desert you have to again book a camel for Rs.250. This second camel was totally worth the price. They first take you in Desert. It’s not too far but camel goes knee deep in sand. Then they will give you little round racing on camel. I was terrified. I did so many adventure activities but that thing was not safe. 😛 Too much fun though. We played in desert for a while, clicked some awesome photos and returned back to sunset point. 6 PM. Sun was slowly going down in desert. It wasn’t a golden sky like morning, it was pretty red. It gives a satisfactory smile. We returned back to bike shop by 8:30. Had dinner and took our train to Jodhpur in night.
So many things in single day. There is only one thing we missed and that was cultural program in desert. You can stay in desert, have Rajasthani food and watch local folk dance at night and then return in morning from Sam Sand Dunes. But it was little costly than we thought and we had booking for Jodhpur.
Day 3: (Jodhpur)
I had seen Jodhpur before but we wanted to see Jodhpur fort where a scene from Dark
Knight Rises (Batman 3) was shot. We reached fort but it doesn’t open till 9 am. We had train at 10:30 AM. So we went to fort and ask around for the shooting place. No one there knows. But finally we figured out from angles of pics took some pictures and took a train back to Chandigarh. One of the most exciting and well planned trip I ever had.