The Desert Safari and Gala Dinner amidst the Great Indian Desert


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Miles & miles of incessant desert, golden hills, charming folk culture and herds of Camels everywhere, these peculiar elements set apart Jaisalmer. Visiting Jaisalmer was always a fascination and part of our really long list!!!

Finally we planned a trip to Jaisalmer, Rajasthan in Oct’14. Jaisalmer lies in the Southwestern Rajasthan and Southern part of the Great Indian Desert.

The Great Indian Desert or The Thar Desert is a large, arid region of rolling sand hills located partly in Rajasthan state, northwestern India, and partly in Punjab and Sindh provinces, eastern Pakistan.

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Thar Desert in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Thar Desert is the world's 17th largest desert and the world's 9th largest subtropical desert. 
About 85% of the Thar Desert is in India, and the remaining part in Pakistan.

In India, Rajasthan houses 60% of the desert, 40% divided amongst Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana.

Rajasthan also comprises of Marusthali (Land of the Dead) sand-dune-covered eastern portion of the Great Indian Desert. The area is known for remarkable shifting sand dunes, ridges of densely packed, coarse sand.

Hot on the Road

We covered Jaisalmer as part of our 4 days trip to Rajasthan. We decided to travel by road from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer.

Hired a car & began driving (car because of the harsh climate). The road that leads to Jaisalmer is literally awesome, it’s so well maintained but eerie too. For quite a long distance we did not observe a single soul.

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The road that leads to Jaisalmer

However, at regular intervals we observed herds of camels and people walking barefoot in the jungle.

Rajasthan

This one is my favorite, at one point the whole road was covered with Camels, and so many of them!!!

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A rendezvous with History and the Hills at McLeodganj, India

I first heard about ‘Free Tibet’ few years ago, I was still in college that time. Ever since, this movement and everything about Tibet has intrigued me. Let me share a little background here.

In 1950, China invaded Tibet resulting in countless Tibetans deaths, followed by imprisonment and torture of several Tibetans.

On March 31, 1959, Tibet’s political and spiritual leader, the 14th Dalai Lama, reached India after a 15-day journey on foot from the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, over the Himalayas.

HH Dalai Lama was followed by about one hundred thousand Tibetans seeking refuge in India. The Indian government extended full support & immediately set up refugee camps for Tibetans at Misamari in Assam and Buxa Duar in Bengal.

Later, these Tibetan settlements were extended to parts of Himachal Pradesh including Dharamshala, McLeodganj, Dalhousie and Manali. Refuge in India gave Tibetans an opportunity to preserve their religion, culture and identity.

HH Dalai Lama has expressed his profound experience of over 50 years of exile in India in his autobiography – Freedom in Exile. He considers India his spiritual home.

Intrigued by the legendary history of McLeodganj & spellbinding beauty of Himachal Pradesh, we (me and my soulmate) planned a trip to this town.

Tibetan Flag@McLeodganj

Surviving the battle, Tibetan flag flies high against the backdrop of Himalayas at McLeod Ganj, India

Visit to Dalai Lama’s Abode in India

We began our odyssey right from New Delhi in a HPTDC Volvo (ticket cost INR 1100 per person), to Dharamshala; it’s an overnight journey consuming ~12-13 hrs. The bus reached at the destination early morning. Right at the bus stop there are taxis / cabs available that charge INR 200 for providing drop till McLeodganj.

McLeodganj is also popularly known as the Little Lhasa in India, it’s the residence of HH Dalai Lama & majority of Tibetans.

Situated in the lap of Dhauladhar Range (a branch of the southern outer Himalayas), McLeodganj is a village in the suburbs of Dharamshala, in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, India. The legend says that village is named after its founder, Lord David McLeod, the English lieutenant governor of Punjab. McLeodganj’s population is a combination of local Indians, Nepalese, exile Tibetans and foreign expats.

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