Having stayed up watching the vote count in the Brexit vote I was suitably dismayed but resolved to get away from it all and what better place than the desert. Heading out west toward the India-Pakistan border we hit the Thar desert. Apparently it is the most populated desert in the world and does receive some rainfall during the monsoon but also it has a large contingent of military stationed here.
India and Pakistan fought three wars and multiple skirmishes over the years and we passed by the area where India detonated it’s first nuclear bombs. The landscape was dotted all around by wind turbines – the electricity generated used to power the floodlights that run all along the Indian side of the border (which, unlike the Great Wall can actually be seen from space at night). I’m not sure what happens when the wind drops.
I signed up for a camel trek and overnight in the desert and was in a group with two Scottish girls one of whom Caroline was doing a gap year teaching English in Chennai and her friend Stephanie visiting for a few weeks. No sooner had we arrived at the camel village than a dust storm whipped up and it began to rain in the desert – perfect!
We had the option to stay overnight in the village but that wasn’t what we were there for so on the camels we got and lurched up and off. It’s a strange sensation suddenly being 15ft tall.
The desert here is a mix of scrubland and small dunes. After about 90 minutes in the saddle, with no stirrups, our inner thighs were seriously beginning to ache just in time for us to stop in a dune covered area for obligatory chai.
After dinner on the dunes the camels were let loose to roam around overnight – I never saw them sleeping so it’s no wonder that they are such cranky animals!
By night everything had cleared up and went to sleep under a cloudless starry sky.
The desert wasn’t completely devoid of life – there were wild dogs, jumping deer and this little cleaner-upper.
Rising early with the sunrise we got back on the camels and headed back to check out the town of Jaiselmer.
Overlooking the town like a giant sandcastle is Jaisalmer fort – a warren of narrow interlocking streets and temples still inhabited to this day although very quiet. Due to the heat of summer very few tourists were to be seen and restaurants/cafes closed.
The palace of the Rajput clans was an interesting setup as still had some of the fittings inside whereas most forts I’ve visited so far have been completely empty.
Interestingly there was a photo from the 1930s of the various princes with the British Viceroy looking distinctly out of place in the middle.
After the Leave vote at home I did wonder what the Indian Maharajas would have made of all the talk of immigrants coming and taking all the best jobs!