Cloudy then fine, 37°
We woke up at 6:30am to the sudden warmth of the power going off, and being left with only the ceiling fans for relief. This seems to be a regular problem in India, and most hotels have a form of backup power to keep them going during dropouts.
We headed upstairs for breakfast on the roof at 8am, and had the included Continental breakfast that came with the room ( toast, eggs and jam ) for Liz, and cornflakes with Banana's for me.
We left at 9am and headed around the corner to the entrance to the Jain Temples.
Jain is an ancient form of Hinduism that is what you would describe as more strict in it’s beliefs ( for example they only eat vegetables, no meat, and they do not believe in killing any animal, and this means they do not eat after dark ( as it will attract mosquitos which they may accidently swallow ) nor do they eat vegetables that grow in the ground ( for the same reason )).
There are 7 Jain Temples inside Jaisalmer Fort and they were allowed to build in the Fort during a time where they were being persecuted elsewhere in India, and they were only allowed in because they agreed to help fund the building of the Fort itself.
So we wandered around 4 of the temples in total, 3 which we could go into straight away, the 4th was closed until 11am. So we bought our 200R each tickets, left our shoes in a 'secure' shop next door ( where of course we would be required to have a look around later ) and headed into the first temple. As we were getting our tickets a man was very helpful in explaining what we needed to do and he then took us into the temples and guided us around, and through the beliefs of the Jain people. Of course as we had, by default, hired him we paid him a small fee at the end, but it was well worth it to have someone explain things and be able to ask questions as well. The insides of the temples are intricately carved with lots of little details to look at. After walking around the 3 temples ( actually 1 temple was just the second storey of the 1st temple ) we grabbed our shoes, Liz bought a wooden camel figurine ( 350R ) and we carried on wandering around the Fort.
We followed the eastern edge of the fort around, to various lookout points ( most of the fort wall has buildings / houses / hotels on it so there are not that many spots where you can get a view over the surrounding area ) and then to a cannon mounted at the eastern end of the Fort, and conveniently there was a cafe next door so we stopped for a drink. Then we carried on around the Fort, exploring the many little narrow alleys and lanes, some of which just lead to someones house.
We made it back around to the last Jain temple which we explored at 11:30am. This was similar to the other 3 but a bit larger. We bought some more water ( a 1L bottle for 40R ) then back to the hotel for a rest.
While it is very hot today it is nice not to the have the humidity, which in practical terms means as long as you are not in the sun it doesn't feel as hot as it does in Delhi.
We had lunch at the hotel in the shade on the roof, then got our stuff together for our Desert Safari.
We packed our day bags and met with the rest of the French people at 2pm, and walked down from the Fort to the 1st gate / carpark area, were we jumped into Jeeps ( 3 in total ) for 24 of us and headed off. Our Jeep was driven by the tour leader, Hamad, who was very chatty,
We headed out west through town and then hit the countryside / desert and drove for a bit. After a while we stopped at a lake which was fed by rain water, but had been hollowed out of the ground to collect it. After about 20 minutes there we headed to a local village for a look around.
We found this part of the trip a bit awkward, as it turns out we were actually visiting the wife and kids of the tour leader, Hamad, and while it was interesting to look around it was not so much fun when the children of the village kept asking to look in our bags ( to see what they could souvenir ) or were straight out asking for money. A lot of the tour group were youngish women so of course they were drawn to the cute children and let them lead them around the village. Being a bit older and not so blinded by cute children we tried to stay out of their way, and avoid having anything taken from us. After about 1/2 an hour of this we jumped back in the jeeps and left. It was really interesting to see how they lived and what they had, but overall it wasn't fun.
We got to the camels at 5pm, after travelling off-road for a while to spot wildlife, and got straight up onto our seats for the next hour and a bit.
We had seen a few camels walking around on the drive out, but Hamad was very clear that there are no wild Camel in India, every camel is owned by someone.
We headed off across flat scrublands on the Camels ( although if you have ever ridden a camel you will know that it doesn't matter how flat the ground, the ride is always bumpy ). Most people had a camel each but some in the party were sharing. After a while we headed up into the sand dunes that are dotted all across the Thar desert, and went up and down these for a bit.
Riding the camel wasn't as uncomfortable as I thought it might be, but I was happy to get off ( or rather fall off into the sand, as the case may be ) after an hour and 15 minutes when we arrived near our camp site for the evening ( or the night for the rest of the party ).
We sat in the evening sun and breeze, watching the sun sink, watching a dung beetle roll away a fresh piece of camel poo ( we helped clear the path as he was trying to roll it straight through someone ), and relaxed. It was very peaceful and quiet.
At about 7pm we got called down to the camp for some snacks ( pakora mainly ) and water, and in Liz and my case a bottle of beer each ( for 250R / NZ$5 each ). We sat on some elevated sleeping frames and chatted to the 2 people running the French party, one was from Canada but born in France and the other was from France.
Tea was supposed to be served at 7:30pm but as we have already discovered in India that didn't mean much and we finally ate at 9pm. All of the food was prepared and cooked on site by the team of Jeep / Camel drivers, and they encouraged some of the guys to get involved and help make chapatis etc. It was very tasty, if a little sandy!
After dinner we sat for a while and looked at the stars, and chatted then at about 10pm we jumped in the Jeep, left the French group and headed back to Jaisalmer and back to our hotel.
We went back to town with the leader of the tour Hamad, and we were chatting quite a bit to him during the day and on the ride back. He was a very funny man, and spoke good enough English to have a conversion and a joke. The funniest, truest thing he said was:
1, 2, 3: in India nothing is free
4, 5, 6: in India nothing is fixed
7, 8, 9: in India everything superfine
We arrived back at 11:15pm, and got to bed about 12.