Jaisalmer, India: Annual Desert Festival

Discussion in 'Asia' started by anileze, Feb 6, 2015.  |  Print Topic

  1. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    In the Indian lunar month of Magha, from 13-15th, every year, (Feb 1-3, 2015/Feb 20-22, 2016) the desert town of Jaisalmer, Rajsthan comes alive with the Desert Festival. Simply called the Jaisalmer Desert festival. A three day event that showcases the unique traditional dresses and finery. A catwalk of sorts of rajasthani men, women and camels.

    Visitors have an opportunity to watch parades of men and women dressed in their best march atop beautifully decked camels, from the main gate of the fort to the Poonam Singh Stadium, where men compete in seemingly quirky competition for longest mustache, and Mr. Mustache competition; The festival also has camel races, women's tug-of-war and a camel polo match.

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  2. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    Teen and pre teen girls come out, decked in their local fineries and are recognized for their dress and jewelry and overall beauty. For all the beauty and finery on display, one will also not miss the abundant litter of garbage, debris, potholed streets and open sewage around town and the main fort.

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    Surrounded by Thar desert, the town of Jaisalmer, is the Headquarter of the westernmost district by the same name, in the state of Rajasthan, the biggest in India. Tourism is the main source of income of the city; which till the famous film director Satyajit Ray made his iconic film Sonar Kela, It was a dusty, sleepy fort town that time forgot. His film made popular Jaisalmer as a destination for tourists from West Bengal, and art film enthusiasts who revered Ray's films. And then, the indian masses, followed by backpackers and well heeled tourists arrived. Whatever normalcy the town had, was lost when Lonely Planet from the bottom, and Palace on Wheels and Nat Geo from the top made Jaisalmer the "it" place to visit in Rajasthan.

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  3. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    Today, you can find $3 a day hostels for wandering backpackers, to hundreds of dollars a day heritage hotels for the Palace on Wheels class of tourists, and everything in-between for every budget. Even though there are many small heritage style small hotels inside this living fort, one is made aware of the environmental damage caused by ever increasing demand of the budget travelers due to strain on scarce natural resources such as water and electricity for air-conditioning in summer, heaters in winter and the multiple outlets for Gen X's smart phones, tablets, digital cameras, and laptops.

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    [...to be continued...]
     
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  4. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    I returned to Jaisalmer after decades to witness the annual desert festival. An overnight journey from Delhi to Jaisalmer takes 16 hours as one passes through some of the arid and desolate landscapes of this desert state of Rajasthan. In a pretty remote city by many accounts, one should not be surprised to find nearly all backpacker friendly hotels also have roof top restaurants that serve chinese fried rice, italian pasta, tibetan moms, israeli salad, mexican tacos and even australian vegimite sandwiches ! After all, them Lonely Planet carrying backpackers, keen on immersing right into, and experiencing the local culture and desert life, need to eat their favorite mama's food that they are so used to having everyday when they wake up :)

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  5. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    Everything that one sees and experiences in tourist friendly towns in Europe, you can easily have in Jaisalmer. Memory cards, and cheap postcards, guides and touts, cambios to cows sitting in the middle of the street. Handicrafts of the local variety, and then some ethnic wear manufactured in China.

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    With about a hundred plus pro photographers covering the three day event, The Desert festival is gaining popularity as a must-visit festival in India. The festival ends with a music and dance event in the middle of sam sand dunes under the the full moon night for which visitors schlep 30 miles outside the town of Jaisalmer.

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  6. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    Logistics:

    The easiest way to reach Jaisalmer is to fly into New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport, and then take a leisurely 16 hour train ride in 1st AC from New Delhi to Jaisalmer.

    Hotels that fit every budget exist (but do not expect a JWM or Hilton or Taj property), use triposo or your favorite metasearch engine to look for hotel that caters to your creature comforts.
     
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  7. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Thanks for posting this account, anileze, and for the great photos! This festival was "brought to life" by your account, and I wish that I were there with you enjoying it! Very well done! :)
     

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