Category: Trips

{NEW POST}: Inside the world’s only LIVING FORT: Jaisalmer Fort, Rajasthan

Standing tall and majestic, the Jaisalmer Fort needs no introduction to the world  – a UNESCO declared World Heritage Site and one of the largest forts in the world, the Jaisalmer Fort, also holds the unique distinction of being the ONLY LIVING FORT in the world – a distinction that remains unparalleled for this magnificent monument till date.

Built in 1156 AD by Rajput ruler, Rawal Jaisal, the Jaisalmer Fort is home today to over 3000 people who have been ‘living’ in the fort for generations. Granted residence by the ruler (and his subsequent generations), these people continue to live on and have blossomed their little world into a small town with shops, food stalls and markets.

Earlier this year, I got a chance to visit the fort and was in complete awe of the grandeur of the fort and the simplicity of people living inside who took great pains to ensure they did not cause any damage to the fort. Here’s a photo-tour of my walk through the fort and what can you expect on your visit:

Entrance to the fort:

Jaisalmer Fort Entrance Gate

Jaisalmer Fort Entrance Gate

Entrance to the fort is through the fort gateway. A well-built tarmac road leads you all the way to the fort gate and you can reach the gate either by tempos (autos) or by your own vehicle. Tempos and tourist vehicles are not allowed inside the fort to avoid congestion and the only exception is for handicap persons.

The walk from the fort entrance to main fort complex is about 20 minutes. It’s a slightly uphill climb and elderly persons may need help or take adequate breaks. The walkway is lined up with handicraft shops and makes the climb less tiresome.

Main fort complex:

The main complex at the fort is a large square bustling with tourist and local people and is full of handicraft and tea /coffee shops – a perfect to take a quick break after the long, uphill walk. The main complex also has a post office and local police post for any assistance. Note: Guides are also available here (and at fort entrance), so do check out if you feel the fort may be difficult for you to navigate.

Main complex bustling with shops and tea/coffee stalls

Main complex bustling with shops and tea/coffee stalls

Local handicraft stalls in main comlex

Local handicraft stalls in main complex

 

Walking in the by-lanes of the fort:

Fort square with 'homes' built inside the original fort structure

Fort square with ‘homes’ built inside the original fort structure

The ‘city’ part of the fort is quite amazing and a photographer’s delight. Preserved in its old time glory, the beautiful heritage structure of the fort is impressive and it’s a treat to watch how the locals have adjusted and built their homes within the original structure of the fort.

One of the houses inside the fort where you can take a picture for Rs 10!

One of the houses inside the fort where you can take a picture for Rs 10!

 

A local lady dries up clothes as I take pictures of her house interiors

A local lady dries up clothes as I take pictures of her house interiors

 

Markets and handicraft stalls inside the fort:

Apart from the lovely homes, it is a delight to walk through the streets and explore the local markets and handicraft stalls set up by locals – from food, to train bookings (!) to wooden and art pieces – the fort offers great local shopping opportunity too.  There are no separate market sections and hence one has to keep a lookout for these little shops.

Fort residents selling local wooden handicraft items outside their homes

Fort residents selling local wooden handicraft items outside their homes

 

More items - metal handicraft!

More items – metal handicraft!

A local market inside the fort (notice train booking window in the picture!)

A local market inside the fort (notice train booking window in the picture!)

Bird’s eye view of the beautiful city of Jaisalmer (from fort rooftop):

The greatest attraction of the fort is its magnificent bird’s eye view of the Jaisalmer city and is a must see. An old canon at fort rooftop reminds you of the days gone by when the fort stood tall and strong protecting the city – it’s a great view and a small café at the fort rooftop is a lovely place to have a cup of tea before heading back.

View from the roof of the fort

View from the roof of the fort

 

A small cafe at the rooftop

A small cafe at the rooftop

 

Things to keep in mind while visiting the fort:

  • Open: All days (but good to check with local hotel/ guide for public holidays)
  • Entrance fee: Rs 250 INR for International visitors; Rs 50 Indian adult
  • Address: Fort Rd, Khejer Para, Manak Chowk, Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan 345001
  • Dress/footwear: It can be sunny and hot so good to carry water, wear hat, full sleeves and wear flat shoes for the long walk to fort entrance. Good to keep additional money for shopping inside the fort.

Don’t want to splurge? – These pocket friendly treks are perfect to satisfy your wanderlust on a budget

The notion of traveling is expensive or a good holiday costs a lot is firmly ingrained in our minds – so much so that we often cancel our travel plans or wait for a time when we can save money to travel. To  rescue are a couple of trekking & camping sites that offer great 2-3 day trips on a budget which will not only satisfy your wanderlust but also make your wallet love you some more. Here are couple of suggestions to get your wanderlust kick-started:

International Youth Club

Founded by an ex-advertising professional, Laviral Kalra decided to quit his corporate career in Delhi to start International Youth Club, a membership based wanderlust site that offers short and long trips in Northern India. Some of the short – budget trips by International Youth Club include:

Internationa Youth Club : Trek to Triund

International Youth Club : Trek to Triund

Every day trek to Triund (ex-McLeodganj, Dharmshala) – 1 night/ 2 Days for Rs 1,500/- (Rs 1800/- for non-members).  Trip is ex-McLeodganj and includes two meals, stay on twin basis in tents & guide. Triund is situated at 9432 feet, is an easy 4 – 5 hours 9 Kms of trek and the summit offers stunning 180 degree views of the mighty Dhauladhar Himalayas , Pir Panjal range, Indrahar Pass, Lahesh Caves and the entire Kangra Valley.

Every day Kheerganga trek (ex- Kasol) – 1 Night/ 2 Days for Rs 1,999/- (Rs 2,499 for non-members). Trip is ex-Kasol and is inclusive of meals and stay. The short but popular trek to Kheerganga through the waterfalls and bridges by the tremendous river flow of Parvati will make you see the panoramic skies, vast greenery & dense forest.

Indrahar Pass Snowline trek (McLeodganj – Triund – Dharamshala) for Rs 5,999/- (Rs 7,999 for non-members). Trek is ex- McLeodganj and includes all meals, tea, snacks and stay on twin sharing basis. The trek is a beautiful walk through mixed forests of the deodar, oak and rhododendron. Triund is situated on a ridge with a beautiful view of whole Kangra valley on one side and Dhauladhar mountain range on the other side.

International Youth Club website: www.internationalyouthclub.org

Contact number: +91-8010224422 / info@internationalyouthclub.org

International Youth Club also organises transhimalyan Jeep Safari and Sustainability rides across Ladakh for longer duration trips and details are available on their website.

 

Woodrose Camp

Located within The Great Himalayan National Park, Woodrose Forest Camp offers guests  great location, including the best bird and wildlife viewing in the forest area. The camp also organises quick treks on a budget for avid trekkers:

Woodrose Camp - Pin Parvati Trek

Woodrose Camp – Pin Parvati Trek

Jalori Pass Sarloyskar Lake Trek – 1 night and 2 days package for Rs 2250/-. Trip is ex- Delhi and includes stay on shared tent basis and meals.  Located at a distance of approximately 75 km from the Kullu district, the famous Jalori Pass is seen as a gateway to the attractive Tirthan valley. Another attraction of the Jalori Pass is the Saryolsar Lake. From this lake tourist can witness an amazing view of the inner as well as outer Seraj.

Kasol & Kheerganga – Pin Parvati Trek – 2 nights and 3 days trip for Rs 3,999/-. Trip is ex- Delhi and includes stay and meals. A very popular trek, the hot springs at Kheer Ganga are extremely important for Hindu and Sikh pilgrims as well as many others who believe the waters have sacred healing properties. From Kheer Ganga to the site of Tunda Bhuj village (3285m), the Parvati Valley cuts a steep-sided gorge through the mountains and as the altitude increases, the thick, coniferous forest gradually makes way for patches of meadowland scattered with boulders.

 Kullu Rafting and Bijli Mahadev Trek – 1 night and 2 days package for Rs 2999/-. Trip is ex-Delhi (perfect for weekend) and includes night stay on shared basis, meals and Kullu to Kullu transfer, which means Delhi to Kullu could be your expense (please check website for details). The highlight of the trip is river-rafting with intermediate level trek.

Website: www.woodrosecamp.com

Contact details: + 91 8988493818 / 011-47354739

 

Triphippie

Triphippe is a unique platform connecting global adventure seeker with remote local organisers. The company organises international and domestic trips including quick weekend trips:

Triphippe : Chanderkhani Pass Trek (pic courtesy internet)

Triphippe : Chanderkhani Pass Trek (pic courtesy internet)

Kasol Camping and Backpacking Trip – 1 night and 2 day trip for Rs 1,750/-. Trip is ex-Kasol and includes stay in tents on twin/triple sharing basis and two meals (breakfast and dinner). Kasol is a heaven for backpackers with its pristine, unadulterated natural Himalayan beauty. Itinerary also includes backpacking to Manikaran and leisurely stroll through the Kasol market which is a major tourist attraction.

Malana Chanderkhani Pass Trek – 3 nights and 4 days trip for Rs 5,500/-.  Trip is ex-Kasol and includes guide, stay in tents on sharing basis and all meals. Trip is of ‘challenging grade’ and recommended from April to November months. Chanderkhani Pass is one of the most beautiful and serene pass, at an altitude of 3660 m located in the Kullu valley. Chanderkhani Pass offers fabulous views of the Deo Tibba peak, Pir Panjal and Parbati range of mountains. The trek begins from Kasol, located about 21 km from the town of Manali. The popular trek route of Chandrakhani Pass involves a route from Kasol to Chanderkhani Pass and back to Manali via Malana
Malana Trek & Camping from Kasol – 1 night and 2 day trip for Rs 1900/- Trip is ex-Kasol and includes homestay at Malana, two meals in a day and transportation from Kasol to Malana and back. Kasol is famous for its hippie culture and presence of Israeli population. It is the most attractive place in Manali to the traveler who loves to explore hidden jewels of Himalaya. Malana is a quint and heavenly beautiful village near kasol which is a perfect weekend trek destination.

Website: www.triphippie.com

Contact details: support@triphippie.com/ +91 9819891996

 

Blogger note: I travelled to Ladakh with International Youth Club this year and can add confidently that being a part of such trips is quite fun, you get to meet new people and see some great landscapes, so time to leave the ifs and buts behind this year and kick-start 2017 on a happy traveling note with quick-budget trips! PS: I will also do a sequel to this post so please keep visiting the blog! Cheers

 

 

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