maharajah of the road

Day 9

Maharajah of the road

Muscle cars


Day 9

- Text +

From Siyana to Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer is a town in the Indian state of Rajasthan.

It lies in the heart of the Thar Desert. Nicknamed "The Golden City", because the yellow sand gives a yellowish-golden touch to the city & its surrounding area. The town stands on a ridge of yellowish sandstone, crowned by a fort, which contains the palace and several ornate Jain temples. Many of the houses and temples are finely sculptured. Jaisalmer is named after its founder Rawal Jaisal and has a population of about 78,000. "Jaisalmer" means "the Hill Fort of Jaisal".

Tourism is a major industry in Jaisalmer. Also known for their fine leather messenger bags made from wild camels native to the area. Musicians and dancers are also a major cultural export of Jaisalmer to the rest of the world, Manganyar musicians played the world over since decades, and Queen Harish, the dancing whirling desert drag queen, certainly the most talented dancer from Rajasthan, is touring the world extensively and features in international movies.

As of 2001 India Jaisalmer had a population of 58,286. Males constitute 57% of the population and females 43%.

Saturday 24th January 2009

All timings according to Indian Standard Time – IST


Today is going to be a serious test of endurance. Both for the cars, and the drivers. We are driving 340km from our camp in Siana to the next destination - Jaisalmer. Thats a really long ride, especially not knowing how the roads are going to be, and the more importantly, not knowing how good the cars are doing. The journey so far has been rough on these cars, especially because they are not used to the climate, the terrain, and the roads. But we can hope and pray, and get into the cars to start as early as possible, and try and reach Jaisalmer before nightfall.


We had just started moving out of the camp, when Michael and Nicole's car (the lovely blue with white stripes GT 500) fell into a massive hole! The road that takes us from camp to the pucca (tarmac) road is a chalk (limestone) road. Oh my god, what a mess this is... its well known that pulling out regular vehicles from the sand is tough, but these are really heavy, really expensive cars, and it looks like our departure might just get a little bit delayed now. Thats not good. Given the distance, and the state of the roads ahead of us, looks like getting into Jaisalmer before nightfall is going to take a lot of ingenuity and luck.


George, Tom and some of the other guys have gone to help poor Michael and Nicole. Stuck in their car. Phillipe (from production) has got us a jeep with a metal rope to try and tow out the poor GT500. As we are trying to figure out if the front or the back is a better place to hook on the tow rope, we are informed that Kyle's Bullit (dark dark green) has stopped working! Oh no! Thats two cars out together. After yesterday's mountain journey the Bullit was looking a little under the weather anyway. Its sad its packed up. The GT500KR that packed up on the first day itself, TOM1, and now the Bullit. This is a mess indeed. Lets just hope that Michael's car gets out easily, and we can have some good news for today.


The reverse hook worked great, and the GT500 is on the road again. After trying to fix the Bullit for the last half an hour, the verdict is that she needs to get off the road, into the trailer truck. Anyway, we hit the road, a little more carefully than before now, and start the last of the Test of endurance drives for the team.


Jaisalmer, where were headed right now, is called the golden city. Thats because most of the buildings and and structures in the city are made up of the beautifully shimmery golden sandstone, and limestone. The fortress of Jaisalmer was built in 1156, by Maharawal Jaisal, the then king of the princely state of Jaisalmer. Jaisalmer was being constructed as the new capital city for the state, which was formerly ruled from the city of Ludharva, roughly 17 km from the fortress city. The rulers of Jaisalmer belong to the Bhatti or Rathod clan of the Rajputs (the then ruling clan of this state), and the current titled king, MaharawalBhrijraj Sing, is a very well respected man in the city. a the beautiful fortress city is called the Golden Fortress, and is rumored to be the stage for countless stories and legends. Maybe when we get there, we can discover an interesting one, and write about. We are still on the road. The landscape is getting to be less arid, and bush-like, and we can see some signs of civilization here and there. Its very obvious that we are etching closer and closer to the city areas.


We have stopped for lunch on the road. There is flat desert land on both sides of us, and wild camels walking around chewing on the thorn bushes. Quite the setting. Everyone is famished after driving for so long, and we eagerly await the packed picnic lunch that the production has organized for us. As we eat, we see some kids from the nearby villages come and stare with fascination at the strange sight of 7 brightly colored mustangs stopped in a line, with a mix of foreigners and indians all walking around chatting, and eating food out of boxes. That could quite possibly be as absurd an experience as there ever going to have for a while!


The roads are getting better and were passing through some towns now. Our local production people tell us that Jaisalmer is fast approaching. And not a moment too soon. Everyone is exhausted, and the joys of being on the road are diminishing in comparison to the comfort of a warm bed and a nice chilled glass of beer.


The buildings we are passing by are made of the fabled yellow sandstone, and in the diminishing light of the evening sun, it does look like gold! We are possibly on the outskirts of the city right now, and we should be reaching our hotel in a few minutes. Gobardhan Palace hotel, is not like the other heritage hotels that we have stayed in so far, in the sense that it is not an actual royal palace. Built in 1992, with the sole purpose of being used as a hotel, Gobardhan Palace is owned by the same hotel chain, that runs the Shiv Nivas Palace in Udaipur - HRH.


We are going to be seeing some incredible sights and sounds as we will go exploring the fort area! Jaisalmer is home to two unique things, one is the golden fortress, and the other is the maze of Haveli's (courtyard houses). Patwa Ki Haweli, is an area outside of the fort, which is a maze of by lanes, and short passages. The Haveli's belonged to the rich merchants of the city, who made small citadels, of highly intricately carved stone both to act as impressive residences, and also as a storage and safeguard all their trading goods. Each house is unique in its structural composition as there are secret passageways, and side entrances that none other than the house owners would know about. So all in all, this should be fun!


After a brief song and dance sequence, in the traditional style of this region, we all have dinner together at the hotel, and then head to bed. Because tomorrow we are going to be exploring a fort! Almost like India(na) Jones! And we must be well rested for that.

Maharajah of the Road

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