Saturday, June 22, 2013

Camping at Thar

It's almost surreal. Half a dozen tents in the middle of nowhere, just miles of brown yellow sand in all directions. You think you're lost, yet you're right there, you can see yourself like a tiny dot on your google map on your smart phone. And you wonder for a moment, is there any such place where you are completely untraceable?

Checking in at the Winds desert camp, a two hour drive from the nearest train station Jaisalmer. The desert creeps in gradually. As you leave the city, drive through the tiny towns and villages, reducing to a few settlements- trees dwindling to shrubs to just dry grass to nothing but sand.

The tents look modest from a distance, but they are quite luxurious really. Hot chai, pakoras, a book, and you're set for the next few days of lazy indulgence. I would recommend staying here for at least a couple of days, work on your tan, long lazy afternoons in procrastination, and chilly nights under a blanket of stars warming stiff bones by the bonfire, drowning in whiskey and familiar old folk melodies of the raavan hatha.
 folk dance and music under the stars
our 'modest' abode

On camel safaris in the evenings, you can venture further into the desert quite close to the Pakistan border. For some action, you can try surfing the dunes on buggies. It's actually harder than it looks, we got badly stuck in the sand a couple of times. Definitely go for the mini day trips to the ghost villages of Kuldera and Khaba. Very 'eerie' but in a cool way. Walk through the ruined maze of broken homes, and your guide tells you different tales and legends of what led to the over night desertion of these places. Some very interesting theories, one that says that the king married a girl from a different caste, so his entire village decided to abandon him, packed up and fled over night. Strange.

Kuldera and Khaba villages