|Explore Asia The Subcontinent India Rajasthan|
After the Northwestern slopes of the Aravalli Range, a huge plain extends toward West and North. Part of this plain is irrigated by streams coming down from mountains, which contribute to the Luni river. This is a sandy and hot country, but it still supports agriculture. Further on, water becomes more scarce and the Desert of Thar begins, extending until Pakistan.
The Marwar region (from Sanskrit "Maruwat", The Region of Death) occupes the most friendly part of the plain and penetrates also into the desert. Its territory includes at present five administrative districts, and constituted formerly the State of Jodhpur under the British administration. Jodhpur heads one of these five districts, and was the capital of the Marwar since 1459. The former capital was Osiyan, which is placed 65Km from Jodhpur. Almost nothing but ruins remains from the old city at present, but the famous Sachiya Mata temple attracts lots of pilgrims every year.
Jodhpur stands in the borders of the desert. Its oldest district holds small houses painted with indigo tinge, which has given Jodhpur the surname of the Blue City. To our taste, the city itself lacks any special interest, but the Mehrangarh Fort is a milestone of Rajasthan that should not be missed.
Driving to the West from Jodhpur, we got into the desert of Thar. Landscape was dominated by sand, thorny bushes and camels, with acacia trees of flat top disseminated here and there. Arising from such a hard landscape, the citadelle of Jaisalmer appeared on sight at the time of sunset like a magic vision.
Jaisalmer was to us an odd, dirty and almost magic city that a huge effort of restoration and conditioning might turn into one of the best pieces of the World's cultural heritage. The huge citadelle, built on the flat top of an isolated hill, harbours magnificient buildings that brought to our minds the times of the ancient oriental tales. However, a messy operation of the tourism bussiness has resulted in proliferation of hotels largely beyond the ability of the infraestructures. Sewage overcome the capacity of septic tanks, and soak the underground so much so that the foundations of the wall of the citadelle are begining to collapse at some points. Besides the efforts of reinforcement, the whole citadelle is seriously endangered, and might finally collapse if firm measures are not implemented soon.
Apart from the citadelle, the old district of the low city is an amazing series of narrow streets and magnificient havelis that has not a parallel in Rajasthan, and we think is unique in the World. Again, dirt is everywhere, and, with a few single exceptions, the buildings are in a sad state of preservation. Jaisalmer needs lots of money, but the investment would save a real jewell of the human culture.
In the surroundings of Jaisalmer, the Thar showed the same semideserted face we saw on the way from Jodhpur. We wanted to see more, so that we asked Raj to drive to the village of Khuri, around 40Km from Jaisalmer, and we went there in the afternoon of our last day. We could watch beautiful dunes, and could climb them riding a camel. An amazing sunset on the sands of the Great Indian Desert closed, therefore, our second trip to the always beautiful and surprising India.
article published 1/19/2010