Thursday, August 14, 2008

the fort of gold

had been looking forward to this journey for years. a couple of times the plan had been made between me and a friend of mine who ditched at the last moment. its been around 4-5years since. this time i had given myself a date to begin the trip.

sambit intends to join in, even if he ditches this time i'm not going to wait for anyone. i have to go to Jaisalmer.

its the first of august and here we begin. 2 o'clock in the afternoon we are running late by a couple of hours. but now we are on the road. and in next 15 minutes we will be on the highway to ajmer via jaipur. the NH-8 is looking beautiful as its raining heavily. the wipers are on still visibility is low. at 4:30 a solar eclipse is about to begin. we are in a dilemma whether we should be driving around that time or not. i know of people damaging their vision in attemt to see the eclipse with naked eyes. i dont wanna take that risk. just after crossing daruhera sambit spots a wounded dog in the middle of the road. at any moment it could be smashed by a car or truck. we stop our car and sambit picks the dog and put him on the grassy bank of the road. sambit is back in the car got all drenched in the rain. we continue the drive toward jaipur. we have to drive a bit slow because of the rain. we took the first halt for a glass (not cup) of tea after crossing kishangarh it's already a bit more than 300kms since we started. along with the tea we buy a plate of kachori with chole, kachori was really good and much different from it cousins in delhi or mathura in the chole salt was missing. without losing much time we get back on the road. we have already. the eclipse is over by now and we didn't stop driving because of it(it was so cludy and rainy we didn't have to see the eclipse). by 8 o'clock we are in ajmer. heading towards mayo school to meet my friends parents who are resident art teachers in mayo. we spend a good 2 hours over there and off to the dargah. as we walf toward the dargah through the buzzing market selling all sorts of things we are hounded by beggars anyways we make our way through all that and finally reach the dargah. people warned us not take the camera inside as the security is a bit tight. anyways i sneak in with my little digital camera.

this is my fourth visit to ajmer sharif and as always i wonder what a powers does the place hold to be able to draw travelers for centuries, how did thousands of people from all over the world use to come to the dargah when there were no roads and no means of transportation. but we can also see people walking down to the dargah from hundreds of kilometers. no doubt this place has it's own power. there are stories that akbar the great mughal ruler walked all the way from agra to the dargah. we spent some time listening to the qawali.

now we are on our way to pushkar to spend the night. at the last moment we i had to cancel my plans of attending a marriage in ajmer for some unforeseen reasons. pushkar we reached in next half an hour and checked into the RTDC hotel. we took a short walk to The Birds Eye cafe. a cozy little terrace cafe overlooking the pushkar lake. i ordered a tomato and mushroom pizza (pushkar is strictly vegetarian). food was good and very filling. we were lucky to reach there before the last orders were being taken. sitting there i could click a few pictures of the small little town. back to the hotel and off to bed. early morning we are leaving for jaisalmer, yet to decide which route to follow will do that once we will be on the road.

it's still dark very dark and rainy. nobody has yet got up in the hotel. we had made the payments last night or else could have easily sneaked out. we browse through the EICHER Road Map and decide on driving towards Jodhpur. the roads are fabulous and the rain is never ending. the topography has changed a lot since we left Gurgaon. by the time we reach Jodhpur the Aravali's can't be seen anymore. we never enter the town rather take the bypass leading to Jaisalmer. soon we realise that we can go all the way to barmer and yet make it to Jaisalmer by the evening. so let's have lunch at Barmer. and if possible we can go to Munna Bao which is a border town. lunch was great at Barmer some Brahman Bhojanalaya it was. served pure vegetarian rajasthani food. we had tamatar ki subzi, gatte ki subzi and lahsan ki chutney with an assortment of roti's. the food was amazing and very local. the roti's were dripping with ghee.

back on the road, Barmer left far behind us. te road ahead is straight, empty and rainy. summing it up it's beautiful. as we cut through the rain and the road we come across a car stuck in the middle of the road with a flat tyre. we try to help them out get wet ourself and unable to find our own jack to lift the car. well after around 45 minutes of struggle another cab guy help them out. also tells us that our jack is fixed below the co-drivers seat. thanks to the cab driver, we continue with our journey. the landscape is awesome no obstructions at all only barren land and the road. not much have changed over the last couple of hundred kilometres, surely a lot have changed since we began our trip. suddenly we can see some three limbed giants doing kart-wheel at a distance behind a higher ground. have heard about aliens but never trusted their existence, what could these be. as we near we can see the windmills standing on very tall white poles. the windmills where spread over an area of around 25-30 kms. they where an awesome site on the light brownish barren land. a bit before 4 o'clock we could spot the fort standing on a a hill top, no to ways about it being called the sonar-kila or the golden fort it actually is golden yellow in colour. its big and its beautiful and its golden standing on a dark background given by the gloomy clouds.

we can't wait to be near it. in next thirty minutes we are standing right in-front of the fort. a fort surrounded by a small city around it. a fort with yet another city inside it. a fort getting drenched in rain. a bright yellow fort. so impressive a fort. after years of wait i am standing outside The Jaisalmer Fort. who knows where i will be tomorrow but today i am outside the Jaisalmer Fort and thats what matters the most at this point of time. i can't stop admiring it's beauty.

how could it withstand the hot desert winds for almost a thousand years. how could it bear the harsh climate to give comfort to the thousands of people staying inside for almost a thousand years. it looks like a fairy tale. cut away from reality. a fort standing in the middle of the desert all alone for centuries.