Jaisalmer, a beautiful town that stands on a ridge of yellowish sandstone, crowned by a fort, which contains the palace and several ornate Jain temples. It lies in the heart of the Thar Desert (the Great Indian Desert) and its hot as hell.
This morning we hit snooze several times. Being a smaller city with less to do helps decrease Eitan’s FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and the need to see everything which is a nice change of pace. We went to the Jain temple which is right next to our hotel. Jainism traditionally known as Jain dharma is an ancient Indian religion that prescribes the path of ahiṃsa (non-violence) towards all living beings. Jains believe that a human being who has conquered all inner passions comes to possess omniscience; such a person is called a Jina (conqueror). These guys cant even make a fire at night because they risk killing some insects (no joke). Anyways, the temple was nice but underwhelming compared to others we have seen. This is the problem of temple overdose….
Jainism believes that nothing can be destroyed or created in the universe. There is no need of some one to create or manage the affairs of the universe. Hence Jainism does not believe in God as a creator, survivor, and destroyer of the universe. However Jainism does believe in God, not as a creator, but as a perfect being. Saaay whaaaaat?
We then left the fort and walked into the main city which is still relatively calm and easy to walk around. We went to two Havelis today…. Haveli is generic term used for traditional townhouse and mansions in India, usually one with historical and architectural significance.
The first one we went to was nice but pretty small, the views of the fort from its rooftop were phenomenal:
The second haveli, Patwon ki Haveliyan, the largest and most beautiful of all was constucted in 1805 by Guman Chand Patwa a rich merchant who dealt gold and silver used in embroidering dresses. However, there are theories, which claim that these trader made considerable amount of money in Opium smuggling and Money-lending.
We explored the several rooms in the house, from the wardrobe to the play room.
Many of the houses and temples here are finely sculptured. This haveli was not the exception. This is how it looks from the outside.
There was a group of Russian tourist being charged ridiculous amounts for fake Pashminas. We wanted to let them know its a scam but also didn’t want to get killed by the store employees, so we just let them go.
At lunch we ordered our usual Thali and it said two it came with two veg curries so we told him which two we wanted but when the food arrived the Thali arrived plus two large dishes of the two veg curries. We got scammed! But actually it was good we did because the two additional orders were delicious. The thing with Indian is that food most of the time you don’t know what you are eating. They gave us this banana curry with 2 pyramids of I don’t know what, it was weird but tasty.
At lunch we met these nice people from Colombia and Chile who are also doing the camel tour tomorrow. We went to the agency they booked their tour so we could ensure that we will be with people we like in the middle of the desert. We returned to our room for our usual midday “its too hot out there” nap.
Eitan asked the extremely nice workers at the hotel where he could smoke hookah and they said they have a friend that can bring it to the hotel. So we literally had a hookah delivery and sat on the rooftop with a beer and hookah, the tobacco flavor was Paan (the leaf desert we explained in a previous post from Varanasi). Eitan was soooo happy. While he smoked his hookah we chatted awhile with the owner of this hotel and learned more about the caste system in India, Hindus view of Muslims, India’s view of the USA (not favorable btw) and much more. We really love hearing about a locals perspective.
He recommended a restaurant right outside the fort and we got a Rajastani Thali. We cant really tell the different between this Thali and other Thalis as they all have diarrhea but this one was a bit spicier. We returned to the room and Eitan enjoyed another hookah as they let us keep the hookah for the night, such amazing customer service! We are truly beginning to change our opinion of India after being here and are excited for what the rest of India will bring!