Road Trip, Day 3: Jaisalmer

IMG_8706a ss

We spent the night at Sohan Deep, a brand new hotel that was still under construction. It was just down the hill from the fort and across the street from my favorite Jaisalmer restaurant.

IMG_8708a ss
The Kebab Corner had remodeled and changed its name to the Royal Rasoi. The food was as good as I remembered, and everyone was delighted with their meal.


Rafiq said it was much less expensive than the wretched “resort” place where we’d had lunch the previous day. After a substantial breakfast of scrumptious aloo paranthas, we headed for Gadisagar Lake.

It must  have been well over 100 degrees. I had to cover my head and neck with a cotton shawl to keep from getting instant sunburn. Within seconds of leaving the car, I could feel sweat running down the back of my legs. It was physically uncomfortable, but at least this time there were no touts stalking me with leather hats.


Rafiq, always looking out for me, checking to see where I am and if I’m ok.


The water level was really low.


Feeding the fish.

We dropped pieces of bread into the water for the fish. The water was so murky, you couldn’t ever see any of them. There was just a “bloop” sound once you dropped the bread, the water would swirl, then the chunk of bread would disappear.

Sonar Qila, the Golden Fort, was next. Soon after we got there, after climbing one brief flight of stairs, my heart was pounding, I couldn’t catch my breath, and I felt dizzy. I was glad I’d toured the fort two years ago. There was no way I could do it this day. I begged off the fort tour that everyone was going on, and Rafiq, who had seen the fort several times before, stayed behind to look after me.

We rested in the shade a bit then found a shop selling cold soda and juice.  Just across from the shop was a temple with a pair of faucets which people could use to wash up before going inside. There were some large cups on a chain near the faucets. I went over and splashed some water on my face. It turns out the water was chilled, so I filled up one of the cups and dumped it over my head.

“That might be a problem for you,” Rafiq said.

I thought he meant that I had just committed a social blunder, but it turned out that he thought the cold water might make me sick. Indians often won’t drink refrigerated soda or beer until it’s room temperature because they think it will give them a cold! I explained to Rafiq that if a person is about to suffer heat stroke, which I thought could be a real possibility, that cold water on the head was actually a good thing to do.


After dumping the cold water on my head and downing most of a liter bottle of mango juice, I began to feel better. I returned to the faucet and poured another cup over my head, then doused the front and back of my salwar as well. I didn’t care if I looked like a drowned rat. It was so hot that I wouldn’t stay wet for long.

When the group finished the fort tour, we adjourned for lunch to the supposedly air conditioned restaurant next door to the Royal Rasoi. The AC didn’t work very well, but it was much better than not having it. After a very leisurely and long lunch, we piled back into the car and headed south. We were going to spend the night in the desert.


Bada Bagh Cenotaphs

After the pit stop at Gadi Sagar Lake, we went to see the cenotaphs at Bada Bagh, a short way out of town. Bada Bagh is Hindi for “big garden.”

Cenotaph is a derivative of a Greek word and means “empty tomb.” At Bada Bagh, there are a large group of chhatris built as cenotaphs, memorials to local rulers whose remains were either interred elsewhere or perhaps whose ashes were scattered in a river.

There was not another soul around when Prem and I arrived at midmorning.

Oh, I guess there were a couple of other souls around.

The garden was built in the 16th century. I’ve been unable to find a reliable source stating when the cenotaphs themselves were erected.

The practice of constructing cenotaphs was discontinued in 1947.

I welcomed the quiet and the solitude here.

Gadi Sagar Lake

Gadi Sagar Lake is recommended by many websites as a beautiful, must-see spot for tourists. It’s a manmade reservoir built to collect rainwater.

Legend has it that either a king’s favorite dancing girl or a prostitute, depending on your source, had the gate to the lake built.

The jealous queen ordered it torn down, but the dancing girl/prostitute quickly had a statue of Krishna built on top, preventing the gate from being destroyed.

While it was worth the 10 minutes I spent there taking a few pictures, I found it tremendously overhyped. Sure, there were some pretty buildings there, but beautiful old buildings aren’t in short supply in Jaisalmer.

The lake water was cloudy, green and had litter washing up against the steps of the ghats. An unattractive pier with really ugly plastic swan boats destroyed the ambience and deterred me from photographing the lake itself.

On the brief walk from the parking area to the gate itself, I was pestered incessantly by hawkers trying to peddle me something.

Does this sound like a place you’d enjoy going?

Kabab Corner

Since I’d been less than impressed with Prem’s choice of restaurant the night before, I suggested that for lunch we take a chance on a place I’d seen on the way to the fort.

Up a flight of stairs we discovered the Kabab Corner was a charming open air restaurant.

We had the place all to ourselves.

Prem had been to Jaisalmer many times but had never eaten here.

We had a nice view of the fort from our table.

The food was heavenly. Prem had roti with mutter paneer, which is a tomato sauce with peas (mutter) over cheese cubes (paneer). I had butter chicken and rice.