Upstairs, the Jain Temple held new wonders.
Inside Jaisalmer Fort is a complex of Jain temples. I saw and entered only one. There isn’t much reliable information that I could find regarding either the name or when it was built.
In hindsight, this was the most spectacular of all the temples I visited.
Raj, my guide, mentioned that it took 30 years for this temple to be built. Considering all the exquisite carvings in the interior, that seems like an amazingly short amount of time in which to produce these results.
Namaste India Tours arranged a local guide to accompany me to the fort. Local guides and touts who hang out near the fort are very aggressive and will hassle unaccompanied tourists. If you already have a guide, they’ll pretty much leave you alone or the guide Namaste hired for me would shoo them away.
Raj, my local guide, was not only good at keeping unwanted hawkers shooed away, but he also was observant about my needs as a photographer and didn’t pound me with endless chatter when I was trying to take pictures.
Some 30,000 people live inside the fort walls. Only descendants of the original fort dwellers may live here. No new families may move in.
Much of the interior of the fort looks like any inner city, with narrow, winding alleys and shops.
After I finished my walkaround in the old bazaar, Prem wanted to know if I was interested in trying something from a nearby sweet shop.
There isn’t any nightlife to speak of in Jaisalmer, so our big night on the town consisted of going out to dinner. Prem selected a diner that was popular with the locals.
“This place is famous,” he assured me. He suggested that I order the thali so I could taste a variety of dishes.
It looked great, but I didn’t like any of it. The daal was too salty, the chickpeas were too spicy, the yogurty sauce was too bitter and that weedy looking stuff on the right was too scary. The roti, a flat bread that looks like a tortilla but is made from wheat, was about the only thing I could eat. The ochre colored doughy ball in the center was a sweet. I didn’t care much for it on the first bite, but it grew on me.
A family sat down at a table nearby. The little girl stared at me in fascination, but every time I looked at her to see if I could get her to smile, she quickly hid in her father’s sleeve. After several unsuccessful tries, I finally got a decent picture of her.
I don’t know what I was smiling about. Probably still thinking about that camel ice cream.
It was still early, so Prem drove me around town so that I could take a few pictures. The fort looked great at night.
Another exclusive hotel had an enticing garden, unlike the hotel where I was staying.
The hotel where I stayed in Jaisalmer was okay but not exceptional. It was too far away from the inner city to walk anywhere at night. Parking was very difficult downtown, plus Prem wouldn’t have been able to escort me because of the zealous tourist police. I spent the rest of the evening using the hotel’s internet.