Have you ever looked at the sky at night? No, I am not talking about the cursory glances we city folks throw at the inky black sky. I am talking about actually staring at it and staring at it for long, observing each detail of the vast Universe. So long that the stars and the planets look closer. That you can see patterns and human faces and imagine aliens and starships. I am fascinated by the moon. On a full moon day, the moon luminous and large hypnotizes the onlooker. It is an effort to tear your eyes away from the spectacle. At least for me it is. But the city sky looks rather dull mostly. Immersed as we are in bright light, the contrast is not enough to appreciate the beauty.

Last year, I had visited Rajasthan. Jaisalmer was one of the places on the itinerary. A small town in the western part of Rajasthan, the Golden City beckons those who love the desert. And I wanted to visit for that very reason. I was looking forward to a desert safari in the dunes and a camel ride. The ride from Bikaner to Jaisalmer in our rented car was spectacular. Devoid of traffic for miles and desert landscape on both sides, I could drink in the scenery for hours on end. The scene broken by stray farms. Yes, there is farming in the desert now.

jaisalmer

The vibrant people wear beautiful, bright colours. And camels are omnipresent. The flora is scanty comprising cacti, bushes and desert shrubs.

The sky is clear and blue โ€“ no clouds at all. In the evening, we make the journey from the city to the dunes. It is a journey of about 45 minutes and we are mostly alone except for a few jeeps of the villagers. We do stop to take a closer look at the large windmills that dot the landscape, the desert looking harsh and impenetrable.

jaisalmer

We finally reach the camp site as from where I enjoy a fun camel ride in the dunes.

jaisalmer

The kids scamper around enjoying the sand in the dunes.

jaisalmer

Followed by a folk dance, songs and dinner, we head back to our hotel.

jaisalmer

It is quite late at night and our car headlights is the only light in the desert. It is eerily dark, a kind of pitch black that I have never experienced in the city. Yes, the desert has snakes, scorpions and all the things you remember when you are alone at night and it is as dark as it can be. Our driver points to a dead snake on the road as he stops the car. The husband jumps out to see it. “No thank you,” I mutter to myself as I stay put in the car. And then I look up. The sky is beautiful. Brilliant stars twinkling on the firmament, a sight as mesmerizing I had never seen before.

We ask the driver to kill the headlights extinguishing the only lights for kilometers both ways. We all step out of the car and gaze in wonder. It feels scary because we are so totally secluded aware that there are no people around. And the sky is gorgeous pulsating with life I have never imagined. It was a truly extraordinary experience. Something that words can never articulate adequately.

I wish we had actually camped out in the night at that camp site but since there were no other tourists, I wasnโ€™t sure how safe that would have been. But spellbinding sure!

After a few minutes, we headed back to civilization. Nature can grip you in unexpected ways. The vast expanse and immense power of it makes you feel humbled and blessed in certain ways.

Have you ever experienced a sight like this? Do share your experience.

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43 Thoughts on “A beautiful night

  1. Rajasthan is sure a state that keeps on surprising me.. and that windmill shot is spectacular….
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  2. Rachna, Rajasthan indeed is amazing! I had been to the 3 J’s a few years ago. At the Sam desert camp stay, I too enjoyed the clearest of skies with the most brilliant profusion of stars I have yet to see again!

  3. Lata Sunil on February 1, 2016 at 4:30 pm said:

    I can imagine the beautiful site. As my village in Kerala is near a lagoon, there is no light pollution. The stars shine like diamonds.

  4. Splendid shots. Hope I get yo visit Rajasthan someday…I have a list of places ready for it already ?

  5. Wow I can imagine how stunning the night sky would have been. Specially in the desert. Loved the onion field photo… I have never seen onions been farmed before.
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  6. I’ve never been to Rajasthan and hope to visit this year. As for skywatching, I do that every day from my terrace for about an hour and absolutely love it, Rachna! Nothing like winding down the day in nature. Travel is one of the best ways to do it, away from the usual routine, but I get my little pockets of mindfulness by walking without technology. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for sharing the beautiful photos!
    Vidya Sury recently posted…PS I love YouMy Profile

    • You are one of a kind, Vidya. You pack in so much including skywatching. Yet, there is a difference when the landscape is stark and untouched much by human progress, don’t you feel? Nature is then seen at its best. Oh yes, I love travel. The best way to see more and experience even more. Thanks for reading.
      Rachna recently posted…A beautiful nightMy Profile

  7. Rajasthan and its vibrant colors. Simply marvellous. Jaisalmer is one on my to be visited list. Did you finally manage that desert safari? We booked one in Dubai but I was dead within 9 minutes. It is really scary with only dust to be seen all.over and the vehicle toppling at high speed. I couldn’t bear it beyond reaching the camp site.
    REKHA recently posted…Something like ForeverMy Profile

    • Oh yes, we did a desert safari on the camel. I wasn’t too keen on the jeep one and rightly so. The camel one was quite nice actually. The chap really balances himself well as he walks through the dunes.
      Rachna recently posted…A beautiful nightMy Profile

  8. Sigh, I know what you mean about staring up at the inky blackness and watching those twinkling stars. We live too much in the urban landscape and all those bright city lights don’t let us enjoy nature the way we should. More’s the pity.

    Your description made me feel like I was standing by your side, looking up at the stars. Such bliss.
    Shailaja Vishwanath recently posted…Be kind or be right: What’s your choice?My Profile

    • So happy that you were with me watching the sky. That sight is etched in my brain along with the strange sense of fear at being so alone in the desert. I guess this is what travel actually opens us to. Always lovely to hear your thoughts, Shy.
      Rachna recently posted…A beautiful nightMy Profile

  9. Rajasthan and the tracts of lands in Jaisalmer, Barmer and Bikaner are splendid sights with unending sand dunes and twinkling stars at night! Lovely description, Rachna and brought back a lot of memories!

  10. Such a wonderful and peaceful sight it must have been…I remember the sky as it appeared from my bedroom window in Shillong…Full of stars, bright in the quietness of the hill station town in slumber..The town almost looked like a reflection of the sky itself when it was pitch dark…I think I enjoyed the silence most and the darkness which wasn’t really dark , if that makes sense to you ๐Ÿ™‚
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  11. Rajasthan has been on the cards for a few holidays now, but something or the other always came up. However, I’m determined to make it happen this year.
    While I don’t do it so much here in Bangalore, when I’m back home in Kerala, or even while I was growing up in Dubai (this 20 years ago – not the skyscrapers you see today), I go to the terrace and lie down and watch the stars. It’s a lovely feeling ๐Ÿ™‚
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    • Don’t go in December; it’s way too crowded then. Maybe Dasshera time? Your childhood experiences remind me of a time in my maternal grandfather’s home in UP in my childhood when during long powercuts, we would lie on khatiyas in the big courtyard, the elders telling us stories and we kids would be staring at the pretty skies. I hardly do that anymore though.

  12. I am yet to visit Rajasthan properly. Only glimpses were seen before. But the way you describe the desert, I remembered our trip to Dubai. We went to the night safari in the desert. Same dances, food and camel ride. But the best part was the ride on top of the dunes and diving down in our jeep. The driver was an expert, we were told. It was scary, but I was giggling the whole time! It was a memorable experience. Then while driving back at midnight through the desert, we saw a light far away and when we crossed it, the driver said that it was a Malayaalee tea shop! Incredible. Desert has got its own charm.
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    • Luckily, we opted for camel safari instead of the jeep one. I guess I would be too scared in a jeep. Overall an enjoyable experience. The desert terrain leaves an impression. Thanks for reading, Sandhya.

  13. Recently I am finding most relaxing time of day in staring at sky alone at night (from my balcony of coure :P) . Rajasthan in deed is a wonderful place to see the rich culture and getting relaxed seeing stars in clear sky.
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  14. Have never been to jaisalmer though it’s there on my must see list…intakes herculean effort on today’s world to actually get a moment immersed in nature right? Nice pics
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  15. What a great sight it must have been! If only we can remember to look up at those vast skies, from time to time! I feel fortunate to be living in a place where we can still see the stars at night, and of course, the full moon nights are especially beautiful. I should remember to experience that joy more often. Your drive through the desert reminded me of our road trip through the desert of Death Valley in Nevada, US many years ago. Nothing on either side, but so much beauty! And also of the time we spent in Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. Hopefully someday I will experience something similar in Rajasthan too.
    Thanks Rachna for sharing these great pictures from your travel.
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  16. Sounds perfect. I do like to watch the night sky or early in the morning before the sun rises. You’re right though, the majesty of a full open starlit sky is a rare treat. Loved those pictures – that windmill is impressive.
    Beat About the Book recently posted…How do you choose a book for a friend?My Profile

    • Thanks, Tulika. Those windmills are massive and Rajasthan is harvesting wind energy in a big way. The entire landscape is dotted with them. What was interesting is that each wing of the fan requires an 18-wheeler to transport. They are that huge.

  17. O this reminded me of my trip to Rajasthan and to Duabi at the same time. The deserts and the dances, chauki dhaani, if you know! And the nights! They are spectacular !

    And windmill.. I need to see that!

    Cheers

  18. My best memory of Jaisalmer is the starlit sky on our way back from Sam desert.
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  19. Beautiful clicks and lovely account on Jaisalmer. And yes, I often look at sky at night. It give me a peace of its own kind. ๐Ÿ™‚
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  20. The way you have presented Jaisalmer is just speechless.. now pllanning trip to Rajasthan. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  21. No, but I would love to do one day.. have had plans for years but they dont seem to materialise..

    and looking at the sky oh yes .. reminds me when i was back home and summer nights beds were laid in open in the courtyard and you lay looking up at the sky watching the night sky, the stars ..

    Lovely photos ..

    Bikram’s
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  22. I definitely want to visit Rajasthan; somehow my travel bug parents missed this state when we were young! ๐Ÿ˜€
    We also have a desert close by here and you’re right about the absence of any lights making the sky look so large and awe-inspiring!
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  23. BIG nature lover here – so – loooved this post! felt I was right there with you:-) Lovely pictures and description too Rachna. My most humble and happy moments are those: in nature- looking at the sky above:-)
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  24. You took me back to a little over a decade ago. I remember the first time I saw the sandy desert — on my way to Jaisalmer. And I was overwhelmed. Back then it had been a dream to see vast stretches of nothing but sand.

    And about beautiful starlit nights, I have had some experience there; not in the desert but in the countryside. Nostalgic memories are flooding in, now. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I hope you’ve been well, Rachna.

  25. For the number of friends I have from Rajasthan and the number of opportunities I have had to visit, You’d think I have already gone to Rajasthan. Sadly I haven’t. Though I have interacted closely with their folk dancers, singers and artists long back, while working on cultural projects.

    As a kid I remember, getting lost staring into the starry sky. My Nani used to call me a dreamer. And I used to tell her that, it is experiential thing, that a few realise the value of.
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