On the first of October I embarked on an incredible, if brief, trip to India to attend a friend’s wedding in Jaisalmer. Our journey went like this: Manhattan to Newark by train (1.5-hours, with hiccups). Newark to Delhi (14-hour flight). Delhi overnight. Delhi to Jodhpur (1-hour flight). And Jodhpur to the palace outside Jaisalmer (6-hour bus ride). So the travel took about four days and we were only in India for four days, but it was so completely worth it! Our hotel in Delhi was located in Hauz Khas Village, which is now a very artsy and happening neighborhood built next to a historic site. The next morning I woke up early to check out the historic ruins that were literally next door to our apartment. These Islamic structures are traced back to the 13th century.
After a few hours we packed up our things and headed right back to the Delhi airport to catch our domestic flight out to the western part of India. After a lovely and welcoming lunch buffet, we piled back into the bus to be driven what was supposed to be three hours out to Suryagarh Palace in the desert. Instead, it was a very haggard six-hour drive, but we made it!
Cows are sacred in Hinduism and are officially protected in India, so they are all over the place. Between the cows, the stray dogs, the pedestrians, the motorcycles, and the loose interpretation of lane lines, driving can be quite harrowing at times. Drivers constantly use their horn just to let other cars know they’re behind them, and passing happens often on these one-lane roads despite oncoming traffic approaching. It’s certainly not an experience for the faint of heart!
On the second day of our incredible wedding weekend in India, our itinerary read ‘Sunset at the Lalhmana Sand Dunes’. We all piled into a bus and headed out from the palace, not knowing what to expect. I spotted a few camels on the side of the road and slowly the idea crept into my head that we might be getting to ride a few. Sure enough, as soon as the bus stopped we were pulled by the camels’ keepers straight onto the animals. Suddenly there we were, riding camels into the sunset! Have I mentioned how surreal this whole India trip was?! It still doesn’t seem like any of this really happened.
On Saturday morning, the last full day of the wedding, we headed out early for a brief visit to the town of Jaisalmer. The palace where we were staying was about 30 minutes from the town, and we were provided with a tour guide and driver to take us around. Jaisalmer is nicknamed “The Golden City” for its yellow sandstone – a perfect palette for this desert town. At the center of the city is a sprawling fort dating back almost 1000 years to medieval times. We started by walking into Jaisalmer Fort, which is now populated by townspeople.
The walkways at the fort are all lined with small stands geared toward tourists.
Our tour guide took us up to a rooftop for some great views of the fort and the surrounding town. I loved the rooftops and walking around, but things took a turn when our guide started bringing us to shops he clearly had ties to. It was still fun to see the shops, but I felt slightly bad that we really had no plans to spend any money!
Kahala Phata, Sam Road
Jaisalmer-345001 Rajasthan, India
Anna Wu is a wedding and portrait photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She can often be found photographing and eating her way through various locations around the world. Follow her work on her blog and Facebook.