I spent 100 rupees to become 'Indian.'
It's the cheapest and sweetest amount I've paid to 'experience' a 'change of nationality' for 15 minutes. But before I share with you my story of becoming an 'Indian,' I would like to take you to Jaisalmer Fort, the place where I got to wear my Indian chameleon and the one I consider as one of the most beautiful forts that I've seen in this lifetime.
Located at India's Golden City called Jaisalmer, this UNESCO World Heritage site is still inhabited up to now.
Around 4000 people still live inside this fort so exploring this beauty is like traveling to an ancient village that's stuck in the past ;-)
This is Dev, our great tour guide who not only shared stories about the fort but also interesting tidbits about his family, desert life and Indian traditions.
The fort has four gates. Each one is stunning but this is my favorite :)
Raj Mahal or Royal Palace
Going inside the fort is free but you need to pay 250INR to enter the Jaisalmer Fort Palace Museum and Heritage Center (audio guide included). This museum is the former residence of the maharawal of Jaisalmer.
From the outside, one can appreciate the beautiful carvings and lattices of the palace's windows.
You can still see the white marble seat used by the king to watch festivities before.
Before going inside, one should take a look at these saffron handprints from royal widows who committed sati. Sati is a funeral custom when a widow takes her own life after her husband's death. Before executing sati, the widow marks the wall with her handprint :(
I love how intricate everything is in and out of the palace-- from walls to windows and posts!
Each portion has story to tell thanks to its audio guide. Touring this palace is easy because of the numberings. But I couldn't help but pause the guide from time to time to take emo shots :))
Almost everything in Jaisalmer is made from yellow sandstone. Its color adds drama and quaintness, right? :)
It wasn't just me who internalized her pa-drama vibes. I also forced my mom to pose like a model :))
This museum is very informative. You can see weapons used during wars, dresses of queens, photos and paintings of kings, palanquins, and other things that belonged to the royal family.
Even the palanquins have history to tell!
I also love the dramatic lighting inside. (Sorry, guard, I'm a paparazzi!)
The views from the balconies and windows are also stunning. (Perfect for IG photos too! )
This is how the walls of the fort looks like. The stone wall is about five kilometers and the thickness is 2-3 meters.
The palace is also where you can get the best view of the entire city. It has a terrace offering a panoramic view :)
Aside from the royal palace, one should not miss the havelis inside the fort. Haveli only means a traditional mansion or a house with remarkable architecture. Most of these havelis took a long long time to be built. I can't even imagine how long it would take to complete a single window :-D
Almost every inch is covered with detailed designs. It's so beautiful!
These havelis have decorated archways, doors, balconies and windows. Some of them were converted into museums but some are still inhabited by the descendants of the wealthy families who built these mansions.
The interiors of these havelis are gorgeous and elaborate as well. Ceilings were designed with gold paintings and colorful patterns and drawings.
Look at this room with ceiling made from glass and gold!
Some havelis have been converted into shops. This one, in particular, is selling products made from camel bones. I love the craftsmanship of Indians. Everything is just so artsy and unique.
The guy who toured us here showed us this piece (buddha hands design with carvings inside) from a camel bone. Being the descendant of a haveli owner, he stays in this haveli with three other families.
Most of these havelis also have terraces offering great views inside the fort.
How I Became Indian (For 100 Rupees)
But what I really liked in Jaisalmer Fort... is the costume rental outside these havelis!
It made my 'Indian dreams' come true!
It only takes about five minutes to get dressed up. You just need to choose which costume you'd like and then some guys will help you dress up- by putting a wrap-around skirt, a choli (blouse), a saree, a badass belt, a bindi sticker ... and loads of accessories on your arms, wrists, neck, ears and head! I had to skip the nose ring for hygiene's sake :))
And... as a bonus, the 100 rupees include 1 free printed photo! Amazing!
My guide said that I could pass as an Indian. What do you think? :))
Exploring The Maze Inside
Aside from turning my Indian dreams into reality, I also enjoyed walking here. The narrow alleyways have vibrant colors and character.
Walking here is like discovering a maze but it's always exciting to see the busy life inside an ancient fort. There's also a beautiful Jain temple inside the fort but we decided to skip that since we will tour other temples in India.
It's not just the yellow sandstone design that is standing out here. Colorful drawings on the walls also add character. It's like you're touring a different world :)
One shouldn't also miss the market inside the fort to witness how the locals buy and sell their vegetables, fruits, and other products. Most of the vendors here have their own small gardens in villages and they go to the market every day in order to earn from their goods.
Of course, you also need to watch out from cows who are more zen than the people living here.
It is also fun to observe people here. Most of them are game to have their photos taken ;-)
I hope you enjoyed seeing my photos as much as my mom and I enjoyed our tour in Jaisalmer Fort.
I'll publish more posts about other attractions of Jaisalmer soon. Cheers!
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