As our bus entered Jaisalmer, we saw the sweep of sand and the rocky patch of land on both sides with stunt thorny shrubs here and there. This was the same image most of us have in our minds when visualizing Rajasthan.
The whole landscape had a yellowish-golden tinge interspersed by small shrubs.
We were lucky enough to spot the ‘chinkaras’ or Indian gazelle grazing along. We spotted a couple of blackbucks too. The entire land was golden-hued; hence, the city clearly justifies its name as the ‘Golden city.’
The very idea of spending the night in a camp amidst the desert made some of us cringe. Later, when we reached our destination, the sight of elegantly decorated white Swiss-style tents with amber-colored lights was simply enthralling.
A stark desert landscape in the background supported the rustic setting of lined-up tents. The paved pathways towards our fabricated little tents, lit from inside, seemed like pretty lanterns.
The eeriness of the place gripped us. The silence seemed deafening.
The things that we were yet to discover were a lot for a single night. The folk artists succeeded in gathering a wave of claps and appreciation for their performances. The chilly winds contrasted with the steaming hot dishes of about 12-14 varieties. They were all local delicacies served to us under the cloudless, star-studded night around a campfire shivering to bits.
As the night grew older, the unbounded spaces faintly illuminated by moonlight were waiting to be explored. We wandered randomly in the desert, looking for nothing, feeling the emptiness we had never experienced before in the bustling city lives. Somebody in my group hollered, ”this desert stretches up to Pakistan”.
It felt weird. I had never been so close to the border of any foreign country, and suddenly it was so near. The feet-sinking base couldn’t deter us from enjoying the walk beyond our abode.
Perhaps the highlight of this place is the straight, timeless horizon. It raised our excitement to witness the most enchanting phenomenon of nature that is the sunrise.
It is humanly impossible to put the picturesque scene into mere words. The day progressed, and nearer came the much-awaited experience of desert exploration. What can be more enticing than a day spent on the ‘ship of the desert’ slowly making its way through the magnificent stretch of dunes? The bumpy camel ride brought us close to the wilderness of the desert, traversing up and down through the dunes.
No walls, no evident boundaries in the country’s largest desert spread over 2,340,000 square kilometers merging with the adjacent country covered with golden dust, belittled our existence, and bestowed us with a feeling of being lost.
Bounded by walls in the city life, we had no idea that this expanse would be ecstatic. We were wandering about in a space where kilometers of nothingness was the only thing within our vision. Perhaps one of the best things this royal state had to offer to its visitors.