Still November 24, 2017. I am bone-tired this morning. Almost frighteningly tired. I’ve made myself get up, shower and walk around for strong coffee and photo ops.
The Mud Mirror Guesthouse where I’m staying is exactly the right place to recover from Indian Rail. I love this place. I almost could live here, right here in this odd centuries old room. Windows wide open every minute (does get a little smoky but it’s worth it to hear and feel this unusual and ancient desert town around me…no Marjorie you are not in that other desert town for a few more days yet). The guys that run this place really do treat guests in the five rooms like family, and the food is excellent and delivered to one’s room if that is your choice.
Jaisalmer is a place absolutely worth your time; skip the Taj Mahal if you’re contemplating India and head here instead. Unfortunately I’m too tired to go on a camel safari or bargain for one effing piece of anything; fortunately I can do a quick read on the Jain Temple next door to the Mud Mirror, I won’t even need to deal with a guide and you’ll see all of the pretty pictures.
This is a magic golden city just like the brochure says. And by Indian standards it’s rather low-key. The vendors are only medium pushy, the dogs look a trifle healthier, the buildings and the views are…yes…really…spectacular. I think I love it here and would even more if I didn’t feel quite so lacking in energy.
About 9:30am. I found a sidewalk cafe called the German Bakery, ordered coffee and a cinnamon roll which is supposed to give me a boost…I’m waiting. Everything else here is up the stairs for a ‘city view’ which is lovely unless one is staired-out.
A dog just came over and touched my hand. It made me sad. The dogs don’t even beg or pay attention to people eating here. It’s like each species lives in its own separate world and pretty much ignores the other. The people, the cows, the dogs; each exists with little communication between them, although I think the cows are treated better than the humans or the dogs. That old religious significance thing isn’t it? Always so sensible. I said ‘sorry’ to dog that she was born here, but how do I know she doesn’t like much of her life too.
About 11:30am. Went through the Jain Temple. Possibly the most magical edifice I’ve visited so far. More later. I’m back at the Mud Mirror, have downloaded The Handmaid’s Tale and intend to lie here however long it takes to feel energy coursing (or even trickling) through my veins and muscles and feet and brain again.
1:26pm. Slept for awhile. Now for some hotel reviews; two will be outstanding, seven good, and one bad. Booked everything through Booking.com and it’s worked out well with changes and additional dates; Booking’s communication might be better than Expedia which was always my go-to in the past.
So my nostrils are full of sores and scabs. That’s not good is it? Apparently a condition of mixing bronchitis with Nepalese and Indian air. But I made it for almost 40 days without one single stomach ache and almost no body aches. The fact that I feel like I’m dying of consumption is just a little side issue.
I didn’t take a picture of my scabby nostrils.
Some history of where I am right this beautiful moment. Thanks of course to Wikipedia and the BBC.
Jaisalmer is a former medieval trading center and a princely state in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, in the heart of the Thar Desert. Known as the “Golden City,” it’s distinguished by its yellow sandstone architecture. Dominating the skyline is Jaisalmer Fort, a sprawling hilltop citadel buttressed by 99 bastions. Behind its massive walls stand the ornate Maharaja’s Palace and intricately carved Jain temples. (on-line)
Jaisalmer Fort is one of the largest fully preserved fortified cities in the world. It is situated in the city of Jaisalmer, in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It is a World Heritage Site. It was built in 1156 AD by the Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal, from whom it derives its name. The fort stands amidst the sandy expanse of the great Thar Desert on Trikuta Hill. Before the days of the British Raj, the fortress city served as a refuge and way-station for caravans and travelers along the Silk Road. Its ramparts served as the backdrop for many battles in past centuries when the Silk Road still served as one of the main trade routes between East and West.
The fort’s massive yellow sandstone walls are a tawny lion colour during the day, fading to honey-gold as the sun sets, thereby camouflaging the fort in the yellow desert. For this reason, it is also known as the Sonar Quila or Golden Fort. The fort is located along the southern edge of the city that bears its name, and is perhaps one of the more striking monuments in the area, its dominant hilltop location making the sprawling towers of its fortifications visible for many miles around
The Mud Mirror Guesthouse is IN Jaisalmer Fort.
Sri Jain Parswanath Shwetabmer Ji Mandir Temple.There are seven Jain temples in total which are situated within the Jaisalmer fort built during 12th and 15th centuries. Among these temples, the biggest is the Paraswanath Temple; the others are Chandraprabhu temple, Rishabdev temple, Shitalnath Temple, Kunthunath Temple, and Shantinath Temple. Known for their exquisite work of art and architecture that was predominant in the medieval era the temples are built out of yellow sandstone and have intricate engravings on them.
Jainism, Indian religion teaching a path to spiritual purity and enlightenment through disciplined nonviolence (ahimsa, literally”noninjury”) to all living creatures. Along with Hinduism and Buddhism, Jainism is one of the three most ancient Indian religious traditions still in existence and an integral part of South Asian religious belief and practice. While often employing concepts shared with Hinduism and Buddhism, the result of a common cultural and linguistic background, the Jain tradition must be regarded as an independent phenomenon rather than as a Hindu sect or a Buddhist heresy, as some earlier Western scholars believed.
One result of this trip is a desire to know something more about Eastern religions. And if I base the desire on which places and monuments/edifices have stirred my atheistic soul (is that a contradiction in terms) ever so slightly, I would have to say Bagan and the Jain Temple next door to my hotel here. Something about them tells me there’s a greater desire for peace and nonviolence among their honored lords and gods and statues and chants than exists in the average everyday conquering spirit of most cults and religions. Not sure that’s true at all, maybe I just like that Buddha smiles and this temple is so profoundly perfectly beautiful.
2pm. I think I feel better. Soon I’ll have the strength to climb these damn stairs to the rooftop restaurant one more time. Eventually down to go through the Jain Temple one more time I think. Or not. Then a night with ‘the handmaid’ and my wide open windows to the sounds and lights and night stars of Jaisalmer. This is a special place.
6pm. Such a perfect lazy day. Except that Jaisalmer deserved my full attention…in exploration mode. What it got I’m afraid is my full appreciation and my recommendation to everyone who wants off the beaten path (though not really too far) to visit this authentically magic kingdom.
I am feeling renewed somewhat. Another night of my beloved-wide-open windows and the gentle cool breezes and sounds of an Indian night in the desert (much taken up by barking quarreling dogs and Abba I think it is playing at a club somewhere in the ‘hood) and I’ll be good to deal with a day in Delhi and home…
About 4pm I went up to the rooftop and had kadi pakora, pineapple lassi, and butterscotch ice cream. It was just right. I also managed to find a jar of Nescafe in the market this am so I am completely content…it takes so little to make me happy…although it helps if I’m someplace called Jaisalmer when partaking of my simple pleasures.
The Handmaid’s Tale is good, really good. Which means another streaming channel when I get home possibly. Although I have not had a television on for this entire trip except about 20 minutes halfway through somewhere of BBC…couldn’t even deal with that.
Jaisalmer is gold, all gold, with quieter voices, cows that beg, and dogs that bark most of the night. As different as Varanasi is from Delhi from Agra from Jaisalmer, it does make me think if only I were younger I might indeed want to explore all of India. Or Not.
DO VISIT JAISALMER. AND VARANASI SOME DAY. Don’t take the train.