Jaisalmer is on fringes of the Great Indian Thar Desert. Hence one of the attraction for tourists who go there is to visit the sand dunes nearby to experience a surreal sunset, enjoy a camel ride or venture deep into the desert on a jeep safari. Sand dunes around Sam, a small village around 45 minutes from Jaisalmer, are most popular here and probably the first where night camps came up to give the curious campers a taste of the silent desert. Sam has around 150 such camps/resorts in a small radius of 2-3 Kilometers. These resorts are nothing but a cluster of about 20 tents which offer basic necessities like a bed, quilt and a toilet.
We had made our arrangements at K K Resorts which, to our delight, was located right opposite the sand dunes. We had reached there in late afternoon with still some time before sunset. We got through with the formalities, dumped our bags in the tent allotted to us and ventured out. A herd of camels idled outside the gate. There was a childlike enthusiasm amongst the people to ride one of them. I myself was circumspect regarding what it would be like to ride a camel but it was part of my package so I overcame my initial fear and got aboard. With a cue from his master the camel rose and I froze at that moment, wishing to rewind and change my decision. The heart beats settled down after a while and we were on our way to take a round on the dunes across the road.
The desert was thriving with people who had come all the way to be engulfed in the romance of this vast, lifeless and yet intriguing landscape. Some enjoyed the thrill of a bumpy ride through the peaks and troughs of dunes while others preferred relatively comfortable carts. Some posed for a perfect pose while others kept looking for a perfect picture. Some were purely content to be there in a surrounding which was a stark contrast to what their routine life offered. Among all these euphoric tourists were the local boys who served snacks, tea and even beer. Local women danced with the tourists .Men kept themselves ready with their camels in case someone dared to go for a race .They were all in a quest to make the most of the season when the city dwellers come and throng their barren desert, for this earning is what would sustain their lives for a substantial part of the entire year. When I argued with the man called Salim who was guiding our camel regarding the rates he candidly confessed that this is when they earn. I realized that just by travelling and being a happy tourists we are doing our bit to share what we earn.
As the desert got darker the focus of activities shifted inside the resort. A mini amphitheater set up around a bonfire. The usual tunes of “Padharo Mahre Des” were sung. One of the local women performed some incredible stunts displaying mindboggling flexibility. A man showed us some dazzling fire tricks. After some very captivating performances this folksy night turned into a dance floor as people started swaying to the tunes of Honey Singh.
The night had become chilly with every passing moment and you could experience the clichéd biting cold. Up above the sky was pitch dark and I wondered if only we could turn off the noise to enjoy the still and calmness of the desert.