Thursday, 10 March 2011

Skirting the Thar - the Desert Festival

So much for all my good intentions to post regularly from India! Somehow we got swept up in such a flurry of places, events and India-style "happenings", along with such patchy internet connections, that JSF fell by the wayside as we four intrepid travellers visited forts, castles, palaces and gardens. My fellow travellers - Paul and Pauline - have done much better and  have chronicled our adventures on their Sussex Prairies blog, which you can follow by clicking the link.
A not so "wandering" calf, firmly tethered outside our haveli in Phalodi
So filled with remorse, I pick up the reins nearly a month later, from where I left off in Phalodi, the strange, NorthWest frontier town that borders on the Thar Desert. You only stop and stay here if you want to see the remarkable crane feeding ceremony mentioned in my last post. Sad to say, but Phalodi is a real one horse town, filled with wandering cattle and piles of dung that make midnight meanderings around the town an absolute "NO, NO, NO". Although its magnificent Jain temple is worth more than a passing glance. 
The tiny temple (left) is filled with wonderful, ornate glass and mirror work, shimmering in the sunlight. Few visitors get this far in Rajasthan, but if you do make it to Phalodi, make sure you put this temple on your list of places to visit before careering off on a camel in the Thar Desert.
Smiling holy man, found sitting below a tree within the hill fort of Jaisalmer
From here it's on to Jaisalmer, the ancient hill fort town that rises out of the desert in the Westernmost part of Rajasthan. This is a strange place, and not one that I'm likely to return to because it's become such a slave to tourism that every sign screeches about "Lonely Planet" write-ups; every tout tries to sell you a camel safari into the desert; and every spare wall within the city is covered with tourist tat - Ali Baba trousers, carpets, fabrics, and endless pashmina shawls that will not only lose their sparkle when you get them home, but are also likely to disintegrate the moment you try to launder them.
Two children quietly waiting in a sidestreet in Jaisalmer, before they join the Desert Fair parade
We had travelled hundreds of kilometres across deeply rutted roads for the Desert Fair, but soon realised our folly, when the parade started on Day One! We had thought we were coming to a Pushkar style camel fair, but found ourselves enmeshed in a noisy, but colourful parade (top), where camels and drivers were festooned with acrylic decorations. But it's alright, because life looks up after this .... and we start visiting the gardens of Rajasthan.


  1. Quite and adventure. Waiting for your next post.

  2. Such lovely vibrant colours, festivities and people, typical of the beautiful rich Indian culture!

  3. Hello Charlotte, lovely photos as ever esp the young calf, ah yes the lonely planet phenomonen, not easy to escape, but roll on the gardens, glad you are safe and well...