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Jaisalmer -"Highly Recommended by Lonely Planet"

sunny 22 °C

Jaisalmer, in the heart of The Great Indian Desert and close to the Pakistan border, was at one time a prosperous staging post on the Silk Road from India to central Asia and Persia, but both time and trade have passed this remote city by. Today the grubby labyrinthine streets beneath the fortress walls are a medieval minefield of open sewers and piles of animal excrement, and they teem with unwashed, barefoot beggars and their unkempt children…
But, due to its affluent past, Jaisalmer has a wealth of architectural wonders. A massive sandstone fortress encompasses most of the old city and we had planned to stay at the historic, and seemingly exotic, Nachana haveli just outside the city gates…as recommended by the Lonely planet…
However, looks can be deceiving, and after a few minutes we concluded that staying in this dank medieval mansion might be akin to being thrown into a Victorian workhouse. The windowless dungeon-like room we were shown could have been part of the charm, but overnight temperatures here in the desert drop to single figures. Not only was there no heating, but the electricity supply blows with the wind here and is about as reliable as an Indian train; it will come, they assured us …eventually. So, we picked up our bags and went knocking at these Palace gates...
Modern day aristos are feeling the pinch like everyone else, (even Liz has to let the plebs into Buckingham Palace for a bit of pin money), so it’s not surprising that the Maharajah of Jaisalmer has turned a wing of his massive palace into a ritzy hotel for the moneyed traveler. The Palace is enormous, with thirty elegant and expansive guest rooms and suites, together with so many corridors and public rooms that we are frequently lost. However, the recession has taken a major bite out of the up-market travel industry and well-heeled travelers have been replaced by the sneaker brigade. As a result, a family of four from Seattle and us have the entire palace to ourselves. The silence is deafening…
In addition to the hotel, the palace houses two private museums, several temples and the Maharaja’s stable of polo ponies…
We just hope the old boy isn’t relying on the hotel takings to keep his steeds shod, because we got our room for a song.
Tomorrow we will visit the great fortress on the hill overlooking the city. In the meantime we will carefully tread the city’s streets where so many shops, hotels, restaurants, hairdressers and massage parlours claim to be “Highly recommended by the Lonely Planet” that Jaisalmer must have an entire book to itself?

Posted by Hawkson 04:41 Archived in India

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Wow! Thank goodness an alternative existed. Victorian workhouse does not sound good. Hope the Maharajah supplied a chef who could match the elegance with sumptuous cuisine.

by R and B

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