India 2012 - 8: Jaisalmer - Desert Dreams (50 p.)

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19 Mar 2007
Vienna, Austria

The previous trip report part:
India 2012 - 7: Jodhpur - Into Thar Desert (50 p.)

The accompanying video:

February 8 2012

We find ourselves on the 54280 Jodhpur - Jaisalmer passenger, one hour late. Before Jaisalmer an hour was scheduled for 19 kms, so we reached our destination with only 30 minutes delay at 4 p.m.. Semaphores could also be found here, even a fourfold signal gantry. I used a pickup service to my hotel by tuk-tuk. We turned into a side street and continued on an unpaved road. However, the hotel was quite good, situated in one of several newly built "old-style" havelis. The location off the beaten path had its advantages, finally one night without honking concert. I quickly handed over some laundry, then returned to the station, showed the station master my permit and sprinted ahead to the semaphores with fort view as the express to Delhi was about to depart.

The fortified old city on the right, the terminal station in the desert close to the Pakistan border on the left. The whole area was dominated by gravel transshipment causing heavy formation of dust.

New tracks, old signals: not that long ago large parts of the northwestern network had been transformed from metre- to broad gauge, why signals had not been modernized on this line, I don't know. The semaphore was already set to clear for the 14660 JSM - Delhi Junction express with scheduled departure at 17:15.

Lots of crows here...

A picturebook ALCO departure followed!

Even the quadruple signal gantry had survived regauging.

Bhagat-Ki-Kothi WDM-2 16871 provided a proper smoking spectacle. The crew notched up right in front of me, as they passed we both showed thumbs up.

The train disappeared into the distance smoking heavily.

The desert plant Calotropis procera.

Now the path for the rake of my passenger train was clear to shunt to its stabling position.

Abu Road WDM-2 16799 once more at work, the pointsman with key.

A proper Rajasthani desert shunting worker.

Passing the "trolly hut".

A valuable ressource here.

A nice dusty backlit atmosphere predominated.

A last view at the platform.

The station square.

I returned to the hotel and showered off the dust, although it had not been as bad as I was told beforehand, Gwalior seemed much more dusty. My room featured fort view, just as the terrace restaurant where a few French tourists had gathered.

Back in time to catch the last sunrays of the day illuminating the fort.

It got dark, everyone left, I ordered my dinner and wrote this report under a clear, starry desert sky. My mixed vegetable curry was served, afterwards I managed to take pictures of the stars, a yellow desert moon and the lit fort. Later in the night I could enjoy fireworks next to it from my room.

Desert sky.

Yellow desert moon.

February 9 2012

A morning to rest was convenient, I took some shots of the fort at sunrise, then lay down again. In retrospect it would be one of only five days in three weeks I would not get up at or before sunrise. After 10 o'clock my laundry was delivered and I prepared to leave.

In front of the hotel I came across two boys and a camel while I was waiting for my tuk-tuk to the fort.

Through dusty streets and narrow city gates I ascended into a proper oriental desert town. However, it turned out to be very touristy as well, at every corner something was on offer, "real" Italian ristorantes, "Free Tibet" restaurants, "German" bakeries and more of the like. Next to seemingly rustic inhabitants I often encountered tourists including two Viennese.
More about Jaisalmer:

Panorama from one of the bastions, the white area in the background to the right was the station.

View towards the station.

A typical way of building walls here, again female clothing was fantastically colourful.

Burn your CD? ;)

Desert view.

One of the Jain temples in the city centre.

Pigeons were being kept here.

Europeans have to get used to omnipresent swastikas...


Cows, everywhere in the streets.

Beautifully decorated city houses.

After I had explored the narrow streets and buildings I returned to the viewpoint and waited for 14704 Lalgarh - JSM express, which did not arrive on schedule or even thirty minutes afterwards. I still managed to catch a red WDM-2 and passenger rake.

High above town roofs.

Convoys of trucks, but no train arrival.

At the city gates.

The street in front of my hotel.

Afterwards it was time to return to the hotel and fetch my luggage...
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