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Jakarta Post

Exploring the great Indian desert

Sat, July 6, 2019   /   09:34 am
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    A safari tour is led through the wilderness of the Thar Desert. JP/Irene Barlian

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    The camel is an economically important animal of the desert state and part of the local cultural identity. JP/Irene Barlian

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    A group of tourists explores Kuldhara, an abandoned village built in the 13th century. JP/Irene Barlian

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    Jaisalmer Fort has four main massive gates that were designed as a defense system. JP/Irene Barlian

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    A local man herds sheep in the heat of the desert. JP/Irene Barlian

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    Local children walk toward a small village in the Thar Desert. JP/Irene Barlian

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    A traveling musician plays a pungi (Indian music instrument). JP/Irene Barlian

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    A Rajasthani girl. JP/Irene Barlian

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    Jailsamler Fort dominates the desert state’s skyline. JP/Irene Barlian

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    The magical landscape of the Thar Desert. JP/Irene Barlian

Irene Barlian

Nestled in the heart of Rajasthan’s vast Thar Desert, Jaisalmer is a former medieval trading center established in 1156 by Rawal Jaisal. The Bhatti Rajput ruler founded the city and its most remarkable bastion was Jaisalmer Fort. The yellow sandstone citadel, soaring up to 80 meters high on Trikuta Hill, dominates the desert state’s skyline.

In the glimmer of every sunrise and sunset, the yellow sandstone turns golden, illuminating the land of fairytale fortresses known as the city of gold, or Sonar Quila, which translates to golden fort.

Jaisalmer Fort is the second oldest fort in Rajasthan and one of the grandest. It has seven Jain temples, a number of highly ornate haveli (mansions) that have been turned into hotels or restaurants and the Raj Mahal Palace, a former residence of kings, behind its massive, three-layered gate.

Jaisalmer is ancient, majestic, exotic and dazzling like an oasis in the desert. More than 2,000 people live in the fort, making it one of a very few “living forts” in the world.

About an hour from city center is the wilderness of the Thar Desert. It is the 17th largest desert in the world. This subtropical desert offers an arid natural landscape with dry, dwarf tress, cactus and sand dunes. The desert is Jaisalmer’s main attraction and by camel is the best way to explore it.
Despite its extreme climate, the Thar is one the most populated deserts in the world.

Our camel safari tour passed small villages in the middle of the desert, where local children walked along with us.

Once in a while, you may catch sight of a resident herding sheep and goats under the hot blazing sun. At the end of desert expedition, I watched the sun set over dazzling patterns of whirling, twirling sands. [yan]