On day 5, we went about Jaisalmer visiting the local tourist spots which included the Gadisar Lake, the Jaisalmer Fort, the Jain temples etc.
Gadisar Lake, built by Maharwal Gadsi Singh around 1400 AD is a water conservation tank. This structure once controlled the entire water supply to the arid city. There are many temples are shrines surrounding the lake. The main gate called Tillon ki Pol was built by the royal courtesan named Tillon towards the end of the 19th century. Lord Vishnu's statue was installed at the gate so as to protect it from demolition. Here you will find lots of cat fish who hungrily devour all the bread pieces thrown at them.
|catfish in the Gadisar lake|
Next we visited the Jaisalmer Fort. Made of the yellow sand stone and locally called as Sonar Quilla, the Jaisalmer Fort is said to be the second oldest in Rajasthan. The inside of the fort is very congested with over one-fourth of the city's population residing within the fort. The alleys are narrow and are bordered by quaint little shops selling everything from crystals to antiques to clothes to jewellery. But the prices are very high and it is not advisable to purchase anything from here. There are a couple of Jain temples within the fort which are open to visitors only till 12 noon. The insides of the temples are beautiful with intricate marble carvings and numerous idols of the Jain Tirthankaras.
There is also an old palace inside the fort which has been converted into a museum. This houses various artillery, costumes, jewellery of the ancient times. The intricately carved balconies and pavillions of the numerous houses within the fort, are worth seeing.
As is the case with most part of Rajasthan, Jaisalmer too has its share of havelis, the most prominent being the Patwon Ki Haveli, Salim Ji ki Haveli, Natmal ji ki Haveli etc.
Patwon Ki Haveli was the first haveli erected in Jaisalmer and it is not a single haveli but a cluster of five havelis. Legend has it that Guman Chand Patwa, a rich trader of his time, constructed the first of the havelis in the early 1800s. He then constructed the rest of the five havelis for his sons. It took 50 years for the completion of these havelis. The first of the havelis has been turned into a museum. It exhibits the various rooms like the drawing room, dining room, kitchen, bedrooms, dressing rooms etc as they were in the olden days. The havelis have beautiful craved windows and balconies, the beauty of which is unparalleled and not seen even in the king's palace. It is said that the Patwa family dealt with gold and silver embroidery and also made considerable amount of money in opium smuggling and money-lending. The first haveli is well preserved and is worth visiting.
|Patwon Ki Haveli|
The second and the fifth havelis have been taken over by the government and are in very bad condition. One cannot escape the musty stinking smell within the haveli and the numerous bats hanging in the dark gloomy rooms. It is a complete contrast to the first haveli. The third haveli is badly damaged and the fourth one still houses some relatives of the Patwa family. The Patwon ki haveli is a must-visit.
Rajasthani cuisine is unique. Some of the famous dishes are Gobind gatta, Ker Sangri, Bajre ki roti, kadhi, jalebis, matka kulfi, laal maans, rogan gosh etc. We had lunch at "The Trio". The food was good. It is near the Gandhi Chowk in Jaisalmer.
After lunch, we drove to the Akal Wood Fossil Park on Barmer Road, about 17 km from Jaisalmer. It is a vast 21-acre land which contains some wood fossils which are about 180 million years old. But the sad part is that the park does not have any facilities to impart knowledge regarding the fossils. After driving for about half a mile, we were asked to follow a mud trail to reach the fossils. The wood fossils are placed in fenced enclosures but nothing is written about them, and one feels that the fossils are in a state of neglect. There are no hoardings or persons who will educate the visitor more about these fossils. Without any proper knowledge or information about these fossils, it is but a waste of time to travel all the way to this fossil park.
Later we drove down to Jodhpur which is about 290 km from Jaisalmer. The roads are very well maintained and we were lucky to see quite a lot of peacocks on both sides of the road, along the way.