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Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Magical Jaisalmer Fort

Impressions of India: 19
I’m currently travelling for 3 months in India, through Goa, Kerala and Rajasthan, with a pretty hot and hectic schedule of boutique hotel reviews. The galleries below are my online photojournalist diary of scenes caught, people met and things found along the way. I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I did and am still.

Please do take a moment to log and/or e-mail me your reactions and comments and, if you're on Facebook, attend/join my Indian Adventures photo-blog cyber-event there, or become a Follower, due right on this page? The more people I know are reading and enjoying it, the more fuel it adds to my fire.

Jaisalmer Fort, built in 1156 by the Rajput ruler Jaisala, was reinforced by subsequent rulers and has 99 bastions around its circumference. Apparently the only 'living' fort in the world, my Lonely Planet guidebook, and another travellers Footprint one, declared that the toll taken by the tourist footprint and government indifference meant it was in danger of collapse, and on the World Monuments Watch list of the 100 most endangered heritage sites worldwide. As a result Lonely Planet doesn't list any hotels inside the fort and urges travellers to 'make their own ethical decision'. However, Raj and other Fort hotel-owners swore this was a lie spread by hotels outside the fort to get more business. And when I checked online, I found that they were right - it isn't on the WMW or Unesco list of endangered sites at all. 

2 out of a big group of women, with their children, selling souvenirs and jewellery just inside the entrance to the Fort.

A poster in a rooftop Fort restaurant, whose gentle owner Vishnu said yes, he did indeed try to follow all its instructions on a daily basis.
When Raj, the owner of the haveli I was reviewing, saw this picture, taken in one of the streets near his hotel, he said 'That's my son!' - though it looks more like a girl, so he might have been pulling my leg. 
The entrance to Gadsisar Lake, constructed in 1367 by Maharawal Gadsisingh, which has been the main source of water to Jaisalmer Fort for centuries. The entrance sign also said: 'Many small temples and shrines adorn this lake. The beautiful arched gateway believed to have been built by a courtesan.' 

According to my guidebook, a rich and famous prostitute was denied permission to build her gate (Tilon-ki-Pol) by the local maharajah, but built it anyway and put a little Krishna temple on top - which meant it was now sacred and couldn't be torn down. However the maharajah never entered through the gate, believing it beneath his dignity, and would always visit the lake by a side route instead.  
Again, the lake has shrunk severely over the past 3 years of Rajasthan drought - it normally reaches up to the steps. Any idea what the dark patch in the water in front of the saried ladies is?
Catfish! Leaping and slithering and climbing over each other to feast on the rubbish and any scraps thrown by tourists.
A young boy sitting lakeside in the gathering dusk who'd initially smiled sweetly at me but then arranged himself for his portrait and suddenly looked very old for his years.
The Fort, beautifully lit-up by night.
The Jain temples ticket-seller.
Inside the incredibly-carved Jain temples. The 7 of them apparently took 200 men 35 years to build in total.
The honey-pink Jaisalmer sandstone can lend the whole fort this soft glow.
No cars are allowed inside the Fort, and tuk tuks wait in its entrance square as the streets are too narrow for them too. But lots of men bomb around its little lanes on motorbikes or scooters instead.
Patwa-ki-Haveli, the most magnificent of the Fort's 3 antique havelis open to the public, and owned by the government. 
Its ground-floor ceilings were dripping bats.
I can't decide whether the expression on these pigeons faces is embarrassment or guilt.
This young man could be taken as a definition of optimism, given that I was on the roof of the haveli and he was on the ground. He must have hoped I would throw down some coins. I've zoomed in on the same shot below so that you can see him more clearly.
And this is the also-astonishingly-carved Maharaja's Palace.
My tuk tuk driver, Vimal, taking a break while I took photographs. 
and a friend of his VJ, who said he is on the look-out for a lovely English wife. I promised to spread the word.

Posts still to come before we're up-to-date: 
The abandonned village and Jaisalmer to Jodhpur



  1. Just loved these photographs. Glorious. Such a beautiful light and such beautiful stone carving. Great portraits too. The historical information was fascinating. Altogether excellent, 10/10. The best yet on every level.

  2. Emma Gabbertas said...

    Another fabulous collection of photos - I'm going to miss them when you come home.

  3. Helga Desilva Blow Perera said...

    Love your pictures. Telling wonderous stories..Sharing..LOL..HUGS..LIGHT..All good things..xx's

  4. Vaughan Ives said...

    Again some lovely shots - Jaiselmer looks magical. Great portraits.

  5. David Bramwell said...

    Beautiful photos (of course) and a a real sense of following your experiences and thoughts. And exotic as India might be, it has shagging pigeons like everywhere else in the world.

  6. Marcelle Murdoch said...

    The catfish pictures were great. I like the story sequence as you get closer! Amazing!

  7. Penny Mavor said...

    So loved your new postings...just couldn't make a comment again for some was blocking me... know that even though you may not always be getting feedback and vibes written down in black and white, many people are thinking of you, sending love, encouragement and admiration...and are probably like me a tad envious of your intrepid indian travels! big hugs, px

  8. Gareth I Davies said...

    Your images are looking great and magical, although it's hard to keep up with the torrent of posts :-)

  9. Dragan Matjevic said...


  10. Fantastic set of photos Cathy, You must do an exhibition of them!! Serena x

  11. Gareth Morris said...

    Hi Cathy, I read your blog, sounds like you're having an interesting time. Haven't been to that part of India before, the pictures inspire me to do so. Love the portraits and temples. Can I see more 'people doing what they do' for work?

  12. Catherine Newell said...

    Lovely photos darling. Reminds me of my happy times there.

  13. Sarah Billson said...

    They really are a wonderful story and get better and better. I love your portrait shots of individuals, do any of them mind you taking their photos? Do you ask them first? Looking forward to the next installment and hope you get better soon.

  14. Duncan,Inverness23 April 2010 at 04:06

    Amazing photos, Cathy. Thank you. We travelled round the same area in 1992. I spent a week in Jaisalmer dealing with food poisoning. Your photos give me a sense of what I missed seeing!

  15. Another splendid collection of both human interest and location toppers. Despite the drought at Gadsisar Lake it still looks massively impressive. The night shot of Jaisalmer Fort is very dramatic, straight out of Sonar Kella.
    This series is particularly informative as to the architecture in Rajasthan, the detail in the mouldings and carved facias is very eye catching.

  16. once again wonderful stuff... what a trip!

  17. Anita Ponton said...

    your pictures look fantastic! you are certainly seeing some fabulous sights and having quite an experience.

  18. Mark Frith said...

    Hello Cathy, Have wanted to e-mail to say wow, you seem to be having a great time and your photos are so good, thoroughly enjoying your blog, and the travels seem to be getting better and better.

    Beginning to realise you will be home soon which will mean no more travels to follow, which will be such a shame!!!! Booh! But it will be great to know you are home too! Must be getting close to monsoon season, have those hot winds started thast send everyone a little loopy and frenetic before the rains actually arrive?!

    It has been great to see your images of India - familiar from my own travels that seem so long ago. But the memories of such an amazing culture, and the opportunity we have to explore, knowing a good friend is in the groove, is a full tonic whilst here in London otherwise concerntrating on the details of our day to day lives. That why selfishly I just want to see and hear more and more!!

    So looking forward to the next update, big love, Mark

  19. Julia Craig-McFeely said...

    The light is amazing. What camera(s) are you using?

  20. Hay Cathy - love the photos it seems with every new upload the images get stronger and stronger. i realy hope to see your selection for the dominion exhibition. i hope you recevied my last comment? as i didn't get a reply re:your lens. if you wish to email me direct - my email is:- You enjoy of your trip and a sfe return home safely - ron.

  21. One of my favourite places on the planet, unfortunately haven't been back for a number of years now! These images are brining back great memories. Than you.

  22. Lovely pics. Jaisalmer, this enticing city of Rajasthan is the most popular tourist spot in the state. Embraced in the vast and mighty desert, the city depicts the grandeur of the royal medieval era and holds great historic value. Explore all best hotels in Jaisalmer.