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The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Rare

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“Beauty is one of the rare things which does not lead to doubt of God.”

Jean Anouilh

A sunset is a common phenomenon we see everyday. In the rush of our busy, day-to-day activities we rarely find time to watch the sunset and enjoy its beauty. But today’s sunset was something special. From June to September it is monsoon in India, and the sky is covered with dark rain clouds most of the time. In this season, a fiery sunset sky like this is rare to see. So, I didn’t waste a moment to capture the beauty with my new Nikon D53oo. 🙂

sunset sky, sunset, colors, orange sky

sunset, sky, purple, orange

sunset, sky, sunset sky, orange

Published in response to The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Rare.

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Jaisalmer – the essence of earthly Rajasthan

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After a wonderful day in Mount Abu our next destination was Jaisalmer as per our  itinerary – Jaipur – Pushkar (via Ajmer Sharif Dargah) – Udaipur (via Chittorgarh) – Mount Abu (via Haldighati) – Jaisalmer – Jodhpur.

I was well acquainted with the name Jaisalmer and some of its characteristics since childhood just like every other Bengali kid who has seen the movie Sonar Kella by Satyajit Ray at least once in their schooldays. 🙂  Scenes like Feluda and company chasing a train through the desert mounted on camels or the little boy Mukul searching for his home of the past life inside the fort are unforgettable.

jaisalmer, cityscape, rajasthan, explore the elements, photo contest

Anyway, it was a tiring 10-hour long bus journey through the scorching desert land. We reached Hotel Sudarshan, a budget hotel with room rates ranging from Rs 300 to Rs 700, at around 7 pm. The rooms were small but appointed with all the necessary furniture. There was a spacious marbled bathroom with hot and cold water supply. The most notable thing about Hotel Sudarshan is it’s traditionally designed interior and exterior. Jaisalmer Fort was clearly visible from the hotel’s rooftop dining hall.

jaisalmer fort, sonar kella, rajasthan

Rajasthan is a large province and a versatile place with its exotic landscapes, rich cultural heritage and a plethora of remarkable architecture spread across its various cities and towns. If you want to experience Rajasthan beyond its royal legacy Jaisalmer is the place to visit.

Jaisalmer Fort

Jaisalmer Fort is the oldest living fortified town in India. Today it is the main attraction of the place. The fort is now popularly called Sonar Kella or Golden Fort after Satyajit Ray’s movie Sonar Kella which was mostly shot in Jaisalmer. Our guide Mr Raju Sharma said Jaisalmer Fort was popularized because of Ray’s movie the story of which revolves around this fort mentioned as “sonar kella” several times in the movie.

When we reached the main gate of the fort its gleaming sandstone exterior turned golden yellow under the glaring desert sun.

sonar kella, jaisalmer fort, golden fort, jaisalmer, rajasthan

Established in 1156 AD by the Rajput king Rawal Jaisal on top of Trikuta Hill Jaisalmer Fort is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fort is dotted with a number of temples and mansions (called haveli in vernacular). We started the walking tour with the Jain temple decked in intricate stone detailing on exterior walls and columns. Inside you’ll see the statues of sacred Jain preachers (tirthankar) including the last and most well known Mahavira. The interior artwork is equally beautiful and reminded me of Dilwara Temple in Mount Abu.

jain temple in jaisalmer fort

We wandered along the zigzag lanes of the fortified town, visited some of the merchant havelis and Sonar Kella movie shooting spot, bargained at a craft shop and not to mention took a lot of photographs.

patwon ki haveli, Jaisalmer fort, jaisalmer

ornate balcony, jaisalmer fort, jaisalmer

ornate balcony, haveli, courtyard, jaisalmer, jaisalmer fort

sonar kella, sonar quila, shooring spot, jaisalmer fort

craft shop, Jaisalmer fort, jaisalmer, rajasthan

Some portions of the fort are in dilapidated state while some buildings and structures stood the test of time.

ruins, jaisalmer fort, rajasthan

haveli, mansion, jaisalmer fort, jaisalmer

pigeon, Jaisalmer fort, jaisalmer, rajasthan

While we made our way to the main gate of the fort we came across this narrow alley which reminded me of Varanasi, the oldest living city in India.

alley, lane, jaisalmer fort

Gadisar Lake

Gadisar Lake is another must see in the fort premise. The lake was created to store rainwater. Our guide said it is one of the largest manmade lakes in Rajasthan.

Gadisar lake, jaisalmer

Note: The guides charge to show the lake, temple and fort was Rs 400 for our group of 28 people.

Camel Ride and Sunset

The evening was reserved for the most coveted as well as exciting event – camel ride and sunset watch in Thar Desert.

camel ride, thar desert, jaisalmer, rajasthan

sunset, thar desert, jaisalmer, rajasthan

Folk Dance Performance

Next was an enthralling folk dance performance at Oasis Camp Resort. From dancing on a small metal platter while carrying 6-7 earthen pots stacked on top of their heads to walking on burning camphor the dancers did it all with their extraordinary skills. The entire show was mind blowing! I returned to hotel in complete contentment that night.

folk dancer, oasis camp resort, jaisalmer

Note: The total cost of camel ride at the desert and folk music show was Rs 330 per person. The entire arrangement was done by our hotel’s travel desk.

An ‘Extraordinary Day’ in Mount Abu

Mt Abu sunset, mount abu sunset point

“Iss hi doobte hue suraj ne hum mein pehli baar milaya tha … dekh lena, yahi doobta hua suraj hum mein ek din hamesha ke liye mila dega”

The dialogue from a popular Bollywood movie of the 80s, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, was resonating in my ear as our bus was approaching to the hills of Mount Abu. It was the place where some scenes of QSQT, including my favourite number “Gazab ka hai din...” was picturized. While our bus was running up the hills I was expecting a “gazab ka din” (meaning “an extraordinary day” in Hindi) in Mount Abu. As the height increased the air got cooler and the plantations along the slopes of the hills thickened. Ah…finally, I am in Mount Abu!

view from Adhar devi

We stayed at Hotel Abhishek Palace, a budget hotel with standard accommodation (room rate was Rs 800/-) It was an okay type of hotel which is about 10 minutes walk from Mount Abu’s bustling heart, Nakki Lake.

Mount Abu, being the sole hill station in this region, is a popular tourist destination. Vacationers and affluent local businessmen swarm in on weekends; hence it is an expensive place for shopping. Anyway, let’s come back to where we were. We reached Mt Abu just before sunset. After dumping our luggage at the hotel when we reached by the Nakki Lake it was already dark. I wish I had a boat ride in the lake. But boating is not allowed after sunset. 😦

nakki lake at night, mt abu, mount abu

Nakki Lake is a natural rainwater lake. The myth about the creation of this lake goes like this. Lord Bramha (of Hindu mythology) dug this lake with his nails. Nail is “nakhun” in Hindi and “nakki” in local dialect, hence the name. 🙂  With food stalls, eateries, cafes and clothing and handicrafts shops all around the decorated garden and entrance to the boat pier this is place to feel the pulses of Rajasthan’s lively hill station, Mt Abu. From dining to shopping to magic tricks performed by young boys – you’ll have many things to do and enjoy at Nakki Lake.

nakki lake in the morning, nakki lake, mt abu

Next morning started our Mount Abu Sightseeing.

Our first stopover was Om Shanti Bhawan which has a huge assembly hall called the Universal Peace Hall. The institution providing meditation facility was established in 1983 with an objective of educating and enlightening people about peace, spirituality and Paramatma (meaning ‘the Almighty’ in Sanskrit).

Universal Peace Hall, Om Shanti Bhawan, Mount Abu

Adhar Devi Temple – The temple is situated on top of a hill and you need to climb 365 steps to reach there. It was a hard but rewarding task as the view from top is very nice. The temple is built along a natural cave has unique structural feature inside.

Adhar devi temple, Mt abu

Dilwara Temple – This is the brightest jewel on the crown of Mount Abu. This Jain temple is famous for its stunning and exquisite marble carvings all over the interior walls, columns and ceilings. Unfortunately, the temple authority does not allow camera inside. Charges for camera and mobile deposit was Rs 50/- per person.

dilwara temple, jain temple, mount abu

Achalgarh Fort – The ancient fort town of Achalgarh was not originally had the present name. It was initially built by the Paramara Dynasty in the early medieval period. Later it was renovated by Rana Kumbha but most of the structures are in dilapidated condition. There is a temple of Lord Shiva known as Achaleshwar Mahadeva temple where devotees still offer worship regularly. The taxis (jeeps) to Achalgarh are available from the stand near Dilwara Temple. Each taxi carries 6-8 passengers and fare is Rs 800.

The same taxi will also take you to Guru Shikhar, the highest point of Aravalli Range. The peak is about 5600 ft from the sea level. The journey to Achalgarh and Guru Shikhar was remarkable and so was the view from Guru Shikhar.

Mt Abu, Guru shikhar, highest peak of Aravalli

After a daylong sightseeing in Mt Abu we returned to our hotel for lunch. Post lunch session was most memorable because of sunset viewing from the Mt Abu Sunset Point. We reached early, before 5 pm, as our tour guide warned us that crowd will start gathering after 5:30 and you may not find a convenient position if you don’t go early. He was correct. When we reached at around 4:45 I merely saw a few couples here and there. I was so absorbed in enjoying the view down the hill I didn’t notice when the place was filled with so many people. To my surprise, the place was jam-packed with sunset viewers after 5:30 pm.

Mt Abu sunset, mount abu sunset point

When the sunset was over we went to Nakki Lake before returning to hotel and thus ended my “gazab ka din” at Mount Abu. J In late November, the nights were cold in Mt Abu even though the days were hot just like any other places in Rajasthan. As the night grew older the wind became chillier and I went to bed with my socks and scarf on under the blanket. 🙂

By the way, before I stop here is the song for you.

Disclaimer: Dilwara Temple and Nakki Lake (day) images are taken from the internet. 

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My Sunset Moments #4 – Spellbound at Shantiniketan

sunset at Shantiniketan

When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

It’s been one month since I made the trip to Shantiniketan still the charm of that peaceful retreat is vivid in my mind. And when I thought about a beautiful sunset I have enjoyed in recent times I could remember this one at Srijani Shilpagram, Shantiniketan.

Sunset at Shantiniketan, Bolpur, West Bengal

The sun slid behind the leafy branches of eucalyptus setting the sky on fire. I stood speechless for some time and then slowly walked towards the main gate of the ground where my family was waiting for me.

sunset at Shantiniketan

P.S: In case you have missed the first three of my sunset moments here are the links for you. 

My Sunset Moments #1

My Sunset Moments #2

My Sunset Moments #3

My Sunset Moments #3 – the orange fireball through palm leaves

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“There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they’re absolutely free. Don’t miss so many of them.”

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My Sunset Moments #3

It was a summer evening. I went up the rooftop to bring the clothes I put to dry under the sun earlier that day. Luckily, I had my camera with me. It was almost dusk. The sky turned deep grey with the sun gleaming like an orange fireball. I zoomed in to capture it through the leaves of a palm tree swaying in the cool evening breeze. Hope you like it… 🙂

P.S.: If you have missed my previous ‘sunset moments’ here are the links for you –

My Sunset Moments #1 – A Crimson Sunset from My Rooftop

My Sunset Moments #2 – at the Holy Lake

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My Sunset Moments #2 – at the Holy Lake

pushkar sunset, Sunset at Holy Lake, Pushkar, Rajasthan

When before the beauty of a sunset or a mountain, you pause and exclaim ‘Ah’ you are participating in divinity. ~ Joseph Campbell

That was my ‘ah’ moment at the Holy Lake of Pushkar.

Sunset at the Holy Lake #Pushkar #Rajasthan #India

Dusk falling over the holy #lake, #Pushkar #Rajasthan #India

As the sun set over the horizon it painted the sky in golden and warm orange hues. The pigeons started flying back to their nests. Dusk fell over the lake quietly. I stood still on the stairs of the ghats for some time watching the sun god leaving us for the day and soaked up the peacefulness of the moment.

My Sunset Moments #1 – A Crimson Sunset From My Rooftop

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The biggest cliché in photography is sunrise and sunset.  ~ Catherine Opie

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a crimson sunset from my rooftop

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Still we never stop enjoying those beautiful sunset moments and never get tired in capturing them with our lenses. We often run to hill stations and to scenic beaches to watch glorious sunsets. Well… the beauty of sunset can also be captured from anywhere as I did from our rooftop. 🙂


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