The Golden City
Move out of the way (quick!) so that the noisy motorcycles don’t run you over. Snap a picture of the confident cow in the middle of the street. Notice, although you’d have a hard time not noticing, the silver sold by women and the puppets sold by men. Welcome to Jaisalmer city, dubbed the Golden City because of the sandstone used for the majority of its architecture.
As we walked through the streets, we saw some clever advertisements and some less well-executed advertisements.
We also saw signs offering “English wine” which our tour guide, Mahender, warned us is not actually wine, but any alcohol that was consumed by the British, who colonized India.
Progressively, we made our way to Jaisalmer fort, which is huge and densely inhabited. Back in 1156, the fort was created by a Rajput ruler called Jaisal on a hill called Meru, hence the name. Impressively, it doesn’t use any cement; the stones are simply piled one on top of another.
Upon entering the fort, Mahender pointed to a wall with red and silver handprints. He said those were the handprints of the women who, once a husband passed away, perished in his funeral pyre. Luckily Sati, the name of this practice, was abolished in 1978 (although it’s scary how that’s not too long ago).
On a more positive note, Mahender also explained why we kept seeing chilies, lemon and coal hanging on a string like mistletoes. Believed to ward off evil, a new ensemble is hung up every Saturday and there are specifically seven chilies for each day of the week.
Continuing our tour, we took off our shoes and entered a Jain temple. In Jainism, they don’t worship gods but rather 24 prophets. Almost entirely identical, you can identify a particular prophet by the symbol below it. The first temple we entered was in honor of a prophet with an ox, the first prophet. The next was in honor of a prophet with a crescent moon, the eighth prophet.
Having skipped lunch, we then made our way back to the hotel in time for an early and delicious dinner.
Coming soon…the Blue City. Can you guess which one that is?