Shimmering Jaisalmer – Sand Dunes, Fossils and a vacant village

This is continuation to my previous story. Click here to read that. By now the only big thing which was left to do was the famous Sand Dunes. So as all of us were trying to relive the scenes from ‘Reshma and Shera’ to ‘Refugee’, it was getting too hard to wait. While talking to local folks (good thing to do always) we found out that there is this Fossil park which has Jurassic Aged Fossils. So after a late laid-back break-fast we moved towards this Fossil Park.

Its not much away from the city so not a long drive but just like all roads leading out of city, this too had that characteristic aloofness with nothing around, a wandering tar which is enjoying its solitude as if trying to find Godot but not working too hard. Somehow not too convinced on whether it made sense to let go of its non-existence, we drove.

Fossil park is a large piece of land which houses some of the animals fossils and lots of wood fossils. I would recommend to visit this place, not because of its academic value, but because of vastness. The visibility was so good that you can see as long as your eye can take and you could talk to folks who are almost half-a-kilometer apart without actually shouting.

From there we went back to ‘Desert Boys Dhani’ and had our share of fried raayata and ker-saangri and headed to a place called ‘Sum’. Sum is the place you go to see sand dunes and this drive is also breathtaking. You can see till horizon on both sides, this place is about 40 KM away and you only see tourist vehicles. We had already booked a package which included Camel Ride to Dunes, Snacks, folks dance and dinner amid tents set-up in a desert. So with all those imaginary pictures fed by popular Bolywood movies, we made our move.

As you approach Sum, you would start to notice small sand dunes and some big ones and as you reach the last check-post, you would also notice that there are at least 1000 camel-owners cajoling you to take a ride. Somehow seeing so many people was not too much fun but its really crowded, esp in a hot season like Christmas Week. Since we had booked for KK Travels (decent one, as good/bad as any other, contact Harish for bookings at 9414391045) the other day, we headed for his camp. It would cost you Rs 450 if you directly with him else the same package from our hotel was almost double the cost.

By now we were in Sand Dunes. Some of us decided to take the camel ride to go deeper where as I stayed back. We strolled around to talk to locals, to get a feel of evening desert chill, which can’t be missed. The tents are usual swiss tents with two beds, a small table, a loo, water etc. There was a central concrete platform for folk-dance performance and a large tent where they served food, buffet style

Notice those small camels in far-away.

So after looking around and taking an eye-full we realized that its not like ‘Reshma and Shera’ and wondered about the view where there are rows and rows of dunes with an occasional camel-carvan. Well it simply didn’t exist there. Dashed. Local were laughing when we told them that this is what they show in TV. The border is still 80 KM away and you can’t go till Border w/o special permits so may be there are many dunes down the road but at Sum, there are some and thats about it. Regarding the stay part where you can pay from 2K to 10K to pass the night star-gazing in a desert, pick your own choice. I would recommend that with small babies, avoid since the amenities are pretty basic but if you are equipped (spirit) then take the plunge. Take the package only once you go to that place and have a first-hand look at amenities.

We didn’t stay till Dinner and after enjoying the kaal-beli dance, we left early. It was getting very cold and the performance were very mediocre. Everything sells in the name of tourism. May be our hotel was spoiling us. We were back with memories and a sandy experience. For the first time, we looked at dunes and that fossil park was really out of place. Back to hotel, some more spirit and we were down.

Day 4
We had to leave for Jodhpur but we wanted to do something really badly and that was a visit to ‘Kuldhara’. Just like fossil park, this is not on the must-do list of places to visit but we got to know through our guide at Fort. And it was totally worth it.

The story goes like this. Some 150 years back, the then Diwan called Saalim Singh (or rather Jaalim Singh) increased the lagaan in spite of a bad harvest season. Locals didn’t like this and they decided to revolt. This revolt was of a very peculiar kind, all the people in a group of villages (84 villages as per record) just left and moved to somewhere else over a span of one night, outside of his own kingdom. They were mostly paliwal brahmins. Its like a village with everything but no people. Over time, the village got robbed of whatever they left but the basic structure was still around. They seemed to be buried under dunes till recently. I could not find much literature to give you more accurate info. But we paid a visit.

There are rows and rows of houses, some of them have been restored by government. We didn’t see any with a roof intact but there were walls and one can make out the basic plan of the house. Here’s a video which we shot for fellow ghumakkars.

This is how the gate-keeper of this site looks like

After visiting Kuldhara, we left Jaisalmer. My only other visit to a barren village was in Tehri and since that was pretty recent you could actually see things like a movie poster. At Kuldhara, somtimes it was difficult to believe the whole story or some parts of it but then no one really makes any money out of it so why anyone would fake it. You pay a measly sum to enter and then its all yours. Yellow stones every where.

We came out, and said good-bye to Jaisalmer. One of those places which are still away and still same as what it must have been 800 years back. On to Jodhpur.


  • Smita says:

    Thanks, Nandan, for a great detailed story.

    Kuldhara, the ruined township, is again as yellow as the rest of Jaisalmer. The primary reason for it staying intact is that it is made of sandstone (like every wall in J’mer) and since it does not rain, nothing happens to the structure.

    After a while, when I saw so much of yellow/golden grandeur, it made me wonder why these guys (who are apparently so rich, they spend anywhere between 500-5000 rupees per sq. ft. on carving), have never experimented with any other stone or color. Don’t they get tired of so much yellow? The only reason I could tell myself was that sandstone probably soaks whatever moisture in the air and keeps the house cool during 50 degress celsius +

  • Rahul says:

    Super entry. super videos and pics. Ignited some amazing memories as well. Also reminds me I haven’t posted for a while, well… cool stuff this one.

  • Aditya says:

    I want to add one thing here which i guess is very important. Overall weather plays very important role. We were along with Nandan in this trip but we joined one day late.And the day when we visited fort and Sam, sun was missing in sky and covered by clouds whole day.

    It made lot of difference.

  • Charu Dua says:

    Thanks Jha. If i was feeling bad for not able to go for this trip, now after reading your review i am feeling AWFUL!!
    I really am cursing the stupid ganguly committee for delaying the admission processes & ruining my holiday. anyways can you make the feeling worse by sharing the video(s).

    Everything apart the discription you have put together is AMAZING. It a nicely written piece.

  • nandanjha says:

    There aren’t too many videos, few of them I shared in this post and my last post on Jaisalmer. Rest when we meet.

    Lets do Bharatpur sometime later this month or early next month, you can make good use of your SLR there :)

  • backpakker says:

    wow ! now i know why rajasthan is always touted as one of the best destinations…thought it was always hyped, but I am proved wrong …very nicely written and great pictures

  • rahulv says:

    good write NJ!
    when i visited there many moons ago, we did manage to visit the reshma-shera sand dunes…
    hey is kuldhara the same place that features in afreen afreen video @ nusrat saab?
    the video is known for featuring lisa ray more than anything else :)

  • nandanjha says:

    rahulv – Really. May be they have moved over time :)
    As for song, I dont know. I doubt since its really barren. Aafreen is few years old so the situation then would be all the more bad.

    Backpakker – I had similar feelings about Rajasthan but my exposure was limited to Jaipur. I always thought that these forts and royal-ty stuff only excites firangs. But over time, after visiting Shekhatwai, Udaipur and now Jaisalmer and Jodhpur, Rajashthan is there on top for all the right reasons. Also the infra is pretty ok, roads are terrific, friendly and unhurried people, it all adds up.

  • backpakker says:

    Nandan – thats a cue for me to get there ..been to Udaipur and Chittorgarh and jaipur..I also read someting abt a very interesting place,Kiradu yesterday is the link

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