On Mukul’s trail…

Well, I’ll be honest in telling that not all people will relate to the title of this page. So, this post will start with an ode to a timeless 70’s Bengali movie by Satyajit Ray. It goes by the name of Shonar Kella and Mukul is the name the child protagonist of the movie goes by. The tale involves his tryst with dreams of his past life where he is witness to a life around precious gemstones and how the detective Pradosh Mitra(Feluda for all Bengali souls) saves him from greedy goons in a chase through the deserts of Rajasthan. Jaisalmer was where the climax was shot and since then it has been a sort of a pilgrimage for most Bengali families.

Being an ardent fan of the movie(must’ve watched it 100 times at least), a trip to Jaisalmer was always on my to do list. And so I began on Mukul’s trail. A journey which takes me through a 2 day pitstop at Jodhpur and onto the vast expanses of the Thar in Jaisalmer. It was also on my parents wishlist so we all packed into my car for a roadtrip of a lifetime. My in laws also tagged along for this trip. The plan was to drive to Jodhpur, stay there for a couple of days at my wife’s cousin’s place and then head to Jaisalmer.

And so here I am, writing this post from my bro in laws place in Jodhpur after a sumptuous dinner and excited about the drive to Jaisalmer tomorrow morning. The mandatory Umaid Bhawan and Mehrangarh Fort visits in Jodhpur has been ticked off the to do list now. Am mighty impressed by both the structures and the grandeur of the buildings. Mehrangarh fort is an architectural masterpiece that hasn’t got due recognition on the world stage. And the Rajasthan govermnent has done a terrific job in maintaing its heritage buildings.

Jodhpur is a quaint little town with a leisurely lifestyle, far from the hustle and bustle of Delhi. A well maintained neat and clean town, its a popular tourist destination. Most people on the way to Jaisalmer take a pit stop at this place to take a break on the long route to the edge of the Thar in India.

The main attraction for all of us was Jaisalmer, the desert town of Rajasthan. Well, there’s not much of the actual desert anymore with all the canals developed in Rajasthan but you do have those arid landscapes with a hint of shrubbery around.

There are innumerable campsites on the Thar where people spend a night or two to feel what its like to be close in the desert. We did that bit too and that night was one of the most surrealistic experiences of my life yet. Rajasthanis do know how to take care of their guests and the hospitality has to be seen to be believed. I saw perhaps the most beautiful sunset and sunrise of my life yet. And the wildfowl curry at night made by the camp staff ended what was a wonderful day.

The desert camp stay ticked off, next day was to check in our hotel. But an impromptu discussion with the resort manager Manohar convinced us to visit Longewala army post. Safe to say that it turned out to be one of the best decisions of the trip. The place gives you the goosebumps with history associated with it. India won a crucial battle against Pakistan in 1971 here where around 120 soldiers fought an entire battalion from Pakistan to emerge victorious. The famous Bollywood movie Border was based on this very battle. All that history notwithstanding, what will remain cherished is the drive from Jaisalmer to Longewala. Its amongst some of the most remote regions and desert landscapes that is sure to send your pulse shooting. I discovered India actually has its own version of the Death Valley Road enroute. Days like today actually make you realise the incredible beauty of our country.

Jaisalmer the town has nothing much to do. The Golden Fort for all its grandeur is a living fort and somehow doesn’t give the aura and splendour associated with the other forts in Rajasthan. The structure is getting shakier by the day and there might be a time in the future when this whole thing might collapse. But what marvels you is the use of the golden sandstone and the intricate designs and patterns strewn into it.

Modern water outlet systems within the living premises have taken their toll on the structure. So my suggestion to all would be to be a witness to its scenes till it lasts. View from the fort make you realise why Jaisalmer is called the golden city. The complete town seems strewn in yellow.

All done and a childhood dream of visiting the scene of Satyajit Ray’s movie finally bore fruit. The entire stretch of the 2226kms I drove has been my longest road trip yet. Though, its been a couple of weeks that am back in Delhi, finishing this took a lot of time. Here I am signing off till the time I set of another one of my adventures. We are blessed with a country with abundant natural beauty. From the barren to the lush, from the beaches to the mountains, from the deserts to the forests, India offers an incredible variety for tourists. I just wish I’m fortunate enough to explore some of them and I believe I have made a start.

Finally signing off with a desire to tread into more unknown territories. A word of praise for my little one as well. Must say that he enjoyed a lot and was an absolute angel in the course of the trip. Goodbye and Cheers to all folk.Wish me well so that I can share more such adventures and experiences in the times ahead!!



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