Jaiselmer, Sleeping Under the stars

In the north-west of India, at the most remote corner of Rajasthan, almost on the border with Pakistan, sits a golden city that emerges out from the Thar desert like an oasis in the middle of the dunes. That city is called Jaisalmer and it is another remarkable fort-gifted town I visited during my travels there last month.

Here’s your

Creed guide to Jaisalmer 

COFFEE

City View Cafe
Address: Inside Fort Chougan Para, Jaisalmer, 345001, Raj India

Shiva Cafe

Excellent service and coffee, we stopped here for some refreshments and didn’t eat anything but everything is cooked with mineral water, so you should be fine. Oh, very happy staff!
Address: inside the fort, on top of Shiva guesthouse

 

Bhang Shop
Not actually coffee LOL, but it didn’t feel appropriate to put it in any other section of this guide 🙂 Bhang is a preparation of cannabis, frequently used in food and drinks in India and this shop is famous all over India or maybe the world for their bhang lassi and cookies. Take it easy! 🙂
Address: Fort Road, Khejer Para, Manak Chowk, Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer 345001, India

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Bhatia News agency on Court Road, but also the various book stalls in the fort.

Dhahran Book Store includes a little coffee shop at the back and wifi connection to check your latest purchase.

Rawasl Handicraft and Bookstore on Vyas Para, Fort, is another interesting place to browse for new books.

EXPLORE

Jaisalmer Fort
It wouldn’t be a proper Rajasthan city if it didn’t have its Fort, right? So, make sure to visit this one too! The interesting fact of this one is that unlikely others in the state, people still live here, in fact the fort has about 2000 residents, the majority of  which are Brahmins.

Havelis
Commissioned by wealthy and powerful men during the eighteen and nineteen centuries, Havelis are stunning houses built on the principle of Hawa (Air) and Veli (Ventilation), they normally have two open courtyards and elaborated artwork on the mughal pillars.

Camel Safari
If you came this far across India, it’s probably because you are looking for a camel safari or sleep under the stars. Well, you picked the right place as this is probably one of the best and starrier sky in the whole world and if you avoid touts, scams and big organised tourists’ groups, you might even have a fantastic night in the desert.
In fact, me and my friend had a bespoke tour of the desert, we ate in the pitch dark food that had been cooked there in front of us on a fire and later we had the whole desert as our own bedroom as you can see from the pictures below! Leave the fuss of the tends and comfort for one night, just sleep in the wild!
I highly, highly recommend the tour organised by the accommodation that hosted me, (see the DREAM section below) and get in touch with me via email if you wish to be put in touch.

Gadsar Lake
This is probably one of my favourite places in Rajasthan and maybe India. It’s incredibly peaceful and it offers so many great opportunities for incredible pictures, like this one or the below.
In the past, this “little” lake acted as a reservoir that controlled the entire supply of water to Jaisalmer.

Pushkarna Trust Sunset Point
Just outside Jaisalmer, it’s a great place to watch the sun going down and painting the golden city in orange and red, but also to walk around the ruins and maybe chill under one of the many cenotaphs enjoying the incredible view.

EAT

Monica
Very calm, terraced restaurant that serves Rajasthani and tandoori dishes and several veg and non-veg challis.
Address: Near the Fort Gate

Midtown Restaurant
Very, very simple terraced restaurant, with basic decoration and setting, but excellent food and smiley staff. Bonus point is the view over the square where you can spy merchants making business or kids coming back from school. Excellent spot for some street photography without being noticed.
Address: Gopa Chowk, opposite to Bhang Shop 

DREAM

The foundations of Jaisalmer fort, built on a base of soft clay, sand and sandstone, are rapidly eroding due to the increases in water consumption related to tourism. Due to some drainage issues, during peak season some of the water comes back into surface and hits the foundations[read more here]

People died in 1998 and few more bastions fell in 2000 and 2001, for this reasons Jaisalmer is now listed among the World Monument Fund’s 100 Most Endangered Sites and as an eco-traveller as I consider myself, I decided (like many other conscious tourists do) to book an accommodation outside the fort.

I couldn’t have found a better hotel to host me during my stay in Jaisalmer.  In fact, The Gulaag Hotel is a luxury boutique hotel built in the traditional architecture of old hovels, including open courtyards and intricate sculptural work on each column.

It has twelve luxury rooms, eight deluxe rooms and four grand suites.

It includes a refreshing swimming pool and SPA as well as a rooftop restaurant that specialise in Rajasthani cousin as well as a few international dishes.

Address: in front of Nagar Praishad, Bera Road, Jaisalmer 345001

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Jodhpur – Blue is the Warmest Colour

Jodhpur was probably my favourite citadel in Rajasthan: I don’t know if it’s because it’s here that I took the executive decision that my stay in India would last (much, much) longer than I originally planned or because all that blue really blew my mind away, or perhaps because I was quite sick and so I had the time to stop and explore at a more reasonable pace than ever before, or more likely because I met some very amazing people here who showed me around town including some secret spots that I haven’t shared below but that I will include in my upcoming CREED guide of India that I will be giving away at Christmas to all my blog followers who request one.

Whatever reason, I really loved the blue city.

 Creed Guide to Jodhpur

COFFEE

Cafe Sheesh Mahal
An establishment in the coffee scene of Jaipur, with a wide selection of coffee (and specialty teas), snacks and light meals. Get a seat next to a window: people watching on this stretch of the Sardar Bazaar can be extremely entertaining!

Coffee Menhar
If you are visiting the fort (see the explore section of this guide) then a coffee break at this lovely and simple cafe is mandatory. Get a black coffee or try one of their many tea flavours.

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Testo libero

Krishna Book Depot
An establishment in the city and whole Rajasthan perhaps with a wide range of books in Hindi, English, French and German (maybe others too) about Indian arts, music, theatre and cultural scene. Some renovation works where taking place on the ground level, so I guess it will be even better now.
Address: Sardar Market, ask for directions as it might be tricky to find

EXPLORE

Jaswant Thanda
You will find many cenotaphs while in Rajasthan, but this one, if you like me have an obsession for symmetry and white, will blow your mind away. It was built in 1899 by Maharaja Sardar Singh in memory of his father, Maharaja Jaswant Singh II, whom initiated the irrigation systems and protected the city from bandits. Much better from the outside than the very simple indoors, but you still need to buy the ticket to get close to it. Another bonus point is the great view over Jodhpur and the fort itself, especially in the morning.

Mehrangarh Fort

This impressive fort looks like it has been there forever and ever, in fact it looks like it was carved in the rocky mountain rather than being built on it back in 1459. I fell in the trap of the free audio guide as it was described to me as outstanding, it’s good, but the entire tour at that pace takes more than 3 hours and when it’s 38/39 degrees you can’t really do that!! Skip the tempting offer and just download some history online before getting there. We didn’t take the elevator as it would mean miss so much of the atmosphere of the first gates, I guess.

Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park
I normally won’t recommend places I haven’t been to, but as this one was suggested to me by several people and had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of it while maintenance works were undergoing, I feel I can add it to my list here and be sure it’s a place worth a visit.

EAT

Omelette Shop 
This take-away spot by the main clock tower is always packed with locals and tourists, you need to try it to understand why.
Address: just off the clock tower on the right

The Blue House
Lovely, little family-run, rooftop restaurant at The Blue House Guesthouse. Food is simply delicious and a chat with the entire family (including granny and toddlers) in their living room at the end of your meal will just make things even more perfect.
Address: Sumer Bhawan’ Moti chowk, Jodhpur, Rajasthan

DREAM

If you want a traditional stay and meet the locals, you will have plenty of havelis and guesthouses to choose from, just be aware that tourism has put in danger some of these beautiful and ancient buildings, so just do your research and choose one that is safe and environment-friendly. Also, make sure to make a conscious use of water during your stay as peak season and irresponsible travelers are making things worse every year.

We were kindly invited to stay at Shahi Heritage Guest House, a fantastic 350 years old mughal-style Haveli right in the middle of the old town with a spectacular view over the fort and an amazing restaurant on the rooftop.

I couldn’t recommend this place enough, the staff, the food, the friendliness of the entire family made me feel at home during my stay, which was in fact extended by a few nights.

Address: City Police Gandhi Street, pop Narsingh Temple, Jodhpur, 342001

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