"Short stories and travel reports from my life adventures around the globe".

Snippets of Jaisalmer, India.

Snippets of Jaisalmer.

Snippets of Jaisalmer, India.

March 2004.

Cover photo courtesy of StoriesOfKabeera. 

If the urban sprawl of Jaipur had betrayed us with its misleading Pink City tagline, we were handsomely compensated by the extraordinary Golden City of Jaisalmer. This, dear friends, was my favourite place from my cross-country jaunt around India.

In fact, Jaisalmer delivered on the aforementioned goldenness immediately on that first evening as we made our way into the city’s ancient quarter. And boy was this no ordinary old town. Set on a dramatic ridge of sandstone, its streets wind in, around and beyond Jaisalmer Fort, a stunning 860-year old fortress built by the Bhati Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal.

Exploring Jaisalmer Fort in India

Snippets of Jaisalmer.

Wandering Jaisalmer’s beguiling ancient quarter is like being in a real life fairytale. There are impossibly gorgeous townhouses and temples carved and sculpted from yellow sandstone.

Inside the streets of Jaisalmer Fort in India

Snippets of Jaisalmer.

Come here at night and that yellow bleeds into orange and gold. It almost pains me to look at my old photos and what a horrible injustice they are to the magic of the place. While I don’t often go back to places I’ve visited, I would surely make an exception for Jaisalmer.

Snippets of Jaisalmer.

Making friends in Jaisalmer india

Making friends in India’s Golden City.

Inside the fort there were new friends seemingly around every corner. We chatted to shopkeepers sitting in the various townhouses (known as havelis) and met an amusing barber and his father. As we worked our way through all the usual introductions, the barber kept running his fingers through his hair and combing his moustache.

Barber and father Snippets of India

Snippets of Jaisalmer.

My own hair was quite shaggy, thus I decided to get a haircut, a service which came with a complimentary shave and head massage. All the while his father sat like a statue in his chair, a serious look on his face that never once flickered. Upon paying, I asked if I could take a photo of them. “Yes, but let me wear your sunglasses” insisted the barber, “I will look cool”. 

Live cricket on TV Jaisalmer India

Watching the cricket, Jaisalmer style.

At some point our wanderings brought us to a large public square where a sizeable crowd of locals was watching a cricket game on a comically small TV, perched on the ledge of a chiselled temple. I had to giggle, because I realised that if you weren’t in the first few rows of onlookers, it was impossible to see anything.

Travel India

What a huge surprise I got one evening when we stumbled upon Jaisalmer’s famous 8 July Restaurant. I mean seriously, an eatery that someone had been kind enough to create in honour of my birthday.

Snippets of Jaisalmer.

The 8th of July Restaurant Snippets of Jaisalmer

Snippets of Jaisalmer.

Needless to say, I persuaded Allan to have dinner there. And yes, the owner Mr. Bhatia (also born on July the 8th) was tickled to hear about the birthday connection. I even made sure to show him my passport, in case he thought I was pulling his chain. The curries and fruit smoothies we had that night were great. However, secretly I was disappointed not to get even a rudimentary discount.

Jaisalmer nostalgia.

On the rooftop at Hotel Renuka.

Our Jaisalmer base was the lovely Hotel Renuka. My budget room was basic, but came with a comfortable bed and the cleanest bathroom of that entire cross-country trip. Foolishly, both Allan and I declined to pay extra for air con. Unfortunately, the fans didn’t cut it, hence we spent most of our time up on the rooftop where a cool breeze relieved our general discomfort.

Camel Safari Jeep Tour Jaisalmer India.

Hotel Renuka’s Thar Desert Camel Safari Tour.

It was also through Hotel Renuka that we booked our unforgettable overnight camel safari through the Thar Desert. We were each given our own camels for the trek and mine was a magnificent beast by the name of Lalou.

Lalou a short story from India

Snippets of Jaisalmer.

That camel safari stands as one of my most treasured travel experiences of the last 22+ years. I remember feeling like such an intrepid adventurer as we slogged our way through the desert towards the Pakistani border under the burning sun.

Journeying Through the Thar Desert.

Lalou short story India.

Snippets of Jaisalmer.

Furthermore, I’ll never forget our guide that day, a larger than life character called Mr. Magoo. No, I’m not making that up. His lilting voice, colourful stories and quick-fire jokes made the trip even more special. I know I’ll always remember him. 

Mr Magoo desert safari guide Snippets of Jaisalmer

Mr. Magoo and his motley crew.

We had a great group for that safari, which included two Japanese guys and a pair of English girls, Lindsay and Holly. I’ve deliberately chosen not to give too much away about our adventures in the Thar Desert. Rather, I encourage you to have a read of my short story Lalou for the full lowdown. Thank you Jaisalmer for providing me with my most memorable Snippets of India. Hopefully we’ll meet again someday. 

Thar Desert camel safari

Snippets of Jaisalmer.

Check out more of my travel reports from across India.

For a deeper look at my time in the country, have a read of my short story collection Incidents in India.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

Leighton Travels logo travel reports and short stories.



    A definite step in the right direction from your last stop – but India is such an assault on the senses that one tends to shift expectations fairly quickly. You can get used to (almost) anything I guess. And of course I now have to scour the world for a restaurant named The 8th April….

    December 18, 2022 - 4:02 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha, I’m sure that restaurant exists somewhere Phil. I was actually looking at some recent reviews of the 8th of July restaurant and the place seems to have gone dramatically downhill. Shitty review after shitty review. Despite not getting a discount, I’m grateful that at least the food was decent and the service friendly back during my stay. Thanks for checking out my ‘Snippets of Jaisalmer’.

      December 18, 2022 - 5:05 pm Reply
  • kagould17

    So glad your next stop was as good as the last place was bad Leighton. It always seems we get the best experiences from the places that have less hype. Too bad no discount at the restaurant. The owner missed a real advertising opportunity. Cheers and thanks for sharing. Allan

    December 18, 2022 - 5:14 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Allan, this leg of the trip really made up for Jaipur The magical atmosphere of the old quarter, getting to experience a camel safari and sleep in the desert. I think I should’ve gotten at least a complementary shake at the 8th of July Restaurant 😉

      December 18, 2022 - 5:42 pm Reply
  • Memo

    Looking like a right proper T.E. Lawrence. And even in a football jersey. Tried to imagine a city made of sandstone. Sure wish you’d had good digital camera. Hope you get a chance to revisit even if the July 8 has gone downhill.

    December 18, 2022 - 5:55 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      T.E. Lawrence in a football journey, there’s an image. Thanks for checking in, Memo, if Sladja and I ever make it to India this is one place I’d definitely consider going back to.

      December 18, 2022 - 6:03 pm Reply
  • Monkey's Tale

    We also could return to Jaisalmar. It is a magical city. It also seemed to be one of the friendliest cities in India. Was that the second guy that wanted to borrow your sunglasses for a picture on your travels? Maggie

    December 18, 2022 - 6:04 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha, I suspect there may have been quite a few people with sunglass envy over the years. I’m not sure why Maggie, I have never had a particularly fancy pair of sunglasses. Thanks for reading!

      December 18, 2022 - 6:06 pm Reply
  • Stan

    i’m happy to see Jaisalmer make it into travel report form, leighton. lalou was my favourite of your india short stories. hope you are well in georgia and that you have some christmas plans to distract you from any potential homesickness.

    December 18, 2022 - 6:21 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Appreciate that Stan. Yes, here in Georgia we have cleared a few days for total relaxation and are hoping to take in Tbilisi’s famous sulphur bath experience. And a treat for dinner we think, either authentic Indian or Chinese food. Hope you are well, love to the family!

      December 18, 2022 - 6:25 pm Reply
  • Mike and Kellye Hefner

    Your happiness is definitely reflected in your writing! I read the short story too, and it had me cracking up – camels can be so rude! What an adventure, Leighton. Mr. Magoo sounds like a hoot. I can see why you loved Jaisalmer. The July 8 restaurant was a pleasant bonus, but I’m sorry they didn’t give you a discount.

    December 18, 2022 - 8:39 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Kellye, it was such a relief to bounce back from the trials and tribulations of Jaipur with the unbridled delight of all things Jaisalmer. The whole place and experience was like something out of a fairytale. An honorary dish at the 8th of July Restaurant would have been the icing on the cake, but it wasn’t meant to be.

      December 18, 2022 - 11:40 pm Reply
  • Little Miss Traveller

    How exciting to find a restaurant named the same date as your birthday. I would at least have expected a complimentary cocktail or dessert! July is birthday month in our household with everyone except me having a birthday then. It’s a bit crazy really as cards have to go up and down on the mantelpiece to make room for the next celebration and then there is nothing until my birthday when Christmas cards needs to be re-positioned to make way for my birthday cards. Not very good planning really!

    December 18, 2022 - 10:20 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I’m glad you are with me on the complimentary ‘something’ Marion. I mean, come on…. Wow, July must be pretty intense for you then, simply with all the presents to sort out and associated social events. When is your birthday month, if I can ask?

      December 18, 2022 - 11:42 pm Reply
      • Little Miss Traveller

        My birthday is in early January whilst our home is still trimmed up for Christmas. Yes, it’s a coincidence that both my husband and two sons all have birthdays within two weeks in July.

        December 19, 2022 - 1:29 am
  • travelling_han

    What wonderful adventures you had in India, I’m so happy you loved this stop on the trip after the disappointment of the Pink City.

    December 18, 2022 - 11:44 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Hannah, Jaisalmer felt like the ultimate reward for suffering Jaipur. Appreciate you checking in!

      December 18, 2022 - 11:46 pm Reply
  • salsaworldtraveler

    I see why Jaisalmer was such a fun experience and remember your post about the remarkable camel safari and the connections you made. Your descriptions of the place and your experiences are so much better than any review on Tripadvisor. I’d love to visit Jaisalmer and try a camel safari if I ever get back to India.

    December 19, 2022 - 2:41 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks John, Jaisalmer was the highlight of my India trip and still holds a special place in the old memory box.

      December 19, 2022 - 11:00 am Reply
  • Lyssy In The City

    Glad to hear this wasn’t a disappointment! It looks so beautiful! If only pictures could capture exactly what we see.

    December 19, 2022 - 6:17 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for your comment Lyssy.

      December 19, 2022 - 11:02 am Reply
  • 100 Country Trek

    This brings memories back of visit there in the Pink Pink and also we saw the Blue City. We were sat on a camel and he took us around..but saved us. Thanks Anita

    December 19, 2022 - 6:47 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Anita. The pink pink? Do you mean that you visited Jaipur, the pink city? Jaisalmer is known as the Golden City. Sadly I didn’t make it to Jodhpur, it’s one for next time I guess.

      December 19, 2022 - 11:07 am Reply
      • 100 Country Trek

        Yes we visited Jaipur and Jodhpur but we didn’t visit the Golden City.

        December 19, 2022 - 2:44 pm
  • Rebecca

    I’m glad that Jaisalmer redeemed the trip for you, Leighton! After a lackluster time in Jaipur, Jaisalmer was a gem! The 8 July restaurant is very amusing, although it’s a shame you didn’t get a discount, or even a complementary cake…maybe you had to go when it was actually 8th of July?? I also rode camels in Morocco and, while it was a memorable experience, I realize in hindsight the ethics of such forms of transport, not to forget the treatment of such animals. Any case, Jaisalmer was certainly an unforgettable time for you, and a great time in India!

    December 19, 2022 - 6:59 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Yeah I almost certainly wouldn’t do the camel thing again. 🐪 They are magnificent creatures and the safari was spectacular, but definitely a one-off. Thanks for reading!

      December 19, 2022 - 11:14 am Reply
  • Lookoom

    You still managed to meet some amazing characters. I agree that Jaisalmer has a beautiful walled city. I remember waking up before the sun to climb on the roof of my hotel and see the beautiful morning colour on the whole wall. I was also surprised to observe that most of the children simply sleep on the roofs of the houses. They were waking up as I watched.

    December 19, 2022 - 7:36 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Yes, the colours in that city are fantastic, especially around dusk and dawn. I wish that, like you, I’d had the discipline to wake up for sunrise one morning. The rooftops… the playgrounds of those children in many ways, which I find both romantic and sad. Thanks for your contribution.

      December 19, 2022 - 11:23 am Reply
  • WanderingCanadians

    Sometimes you have to visit the disappointing places to make you appreciate the amazing ones. Jaisalmer looks beautiful with all that golden sandstone. How awesome to find a restaurant with the same name as your birthday. Going for an overnight camel safari sounds like quite the adventure!

    December 19, 2022 - 3:12 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for checking out my ‘Snippets of Jaisalmer’. This was very much the romanticised India I’d been daydreaming about prior to coming.

      December 19, 2022 - 3:16 pm Reply
  • grandmisadventures

    Definitely a place that made up for your visit to the Pink City. I love that old fort and had to laugh at the group vying around a small tv screen for a game of cricket. True sport fans right there. And to find a restaurant where the name and the owner share your birthday is really fun. That really has a great ring to it for a name 🙂

    December 19, 2022 - 7:51 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Meg, I may be biased but I feel my birthday deserves its own restaurant. Other potential customers who might hope (and fail) for birthday discount include Kevin Bacon, Jeffrey Tambor, Anjelica Huston, Beck, Billy Crudup and… err… Jaden Smith.

      December 19, 2022 - 9:33 pm Reply
      • grandmisadventures

        that’s quite the list of birthday buddies 🙂

        December 19, 2022 - 11:27 pm
  • Lingo in Transit

    Jaisalmer was also one of my favourite cities on my trip to India. I chuckled at the small tv perched on the temple. There is no barrier for a cricket game there! Love your pictures too. Do you scan your ticket stubs? Or was it a picture?

    December 20, 2022 - 5:04 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey, thanks for reading and for your comment! I’m glad you have similarly warm memories of your time in the Golden City. My old tickets were scanned maybe a decade or so ago. It’s great to have these little bits and pieces in digital form.

      December 20, 2022 - 10:22 am Reply
      • Lingo in Transit

        Such a good idea to scan them!

        December 22, 2022 - 5:14 am
  • bronlima

    “Sun get toasty” hahaha

    December 20, 2022 - 7:27 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Mr. Magoo was bursting with funny quotes. Thanks for reading my short story ‘Lalou’ Geoff, and of course these collected Jaisalmer Snippets.

      December 20, 2022 - 10:49 am Reply
  • Travels Through My Lens

    After a number of disappointing locations, I’m glad to hear that Jaisalmer was a winner! Sounds like you had some fun experiences, and met some lovely people along the way. Seriously though, the July 8th restaurant owner should have given you a complimentary something, sheesh!

    December 20, 2022 - 8:54 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Tricia, yes Jaisalmer was the stuff of dreams in many respects. And all the more sweeter I think after so many trials and tribulations. Thanks for keeping up with my Indian snippets!

      December 20, 2022 - 10:53 am Reply
  • Amélie

    Beautiful snippets, Leighton. Happy to hear that the city lived up to its reputation and its monicker. It seems like a place where you experienced many adventures and began to enjoy the trip deeper. You haven’t visited a place unless you had a haircut there, that’s what I always say, haha. I have fond and hilarious memories of my visits to hairdressers abroad, it is one of those small adventures that make our trips memorable.

    December 20, 2022 - 11:18 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha ha I like your thoughts regarding overseas haircuts. I shudder to think of just how many I’ve had in various countries over the years. Most were meh, some were great and a few were total disasters. Thanks, Amelie, for your continued readership.

      December 20, 2022 - 12:16 pm Reply
  • Juliette

    I’m glad Jaisalmer was less disappointing than Jaipur! It seems like you had a fantastic time there, and it’s too bad you didn’t get that discount on your “birthday restaurant”! The tour in the desert with camels is really a bucket list experience! Thanks for sharing these amazing experiences!

    December 20, 2022 - 2:40 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Juliette, I think if push came to shove Jaisalmer might sneak into my Top 10 locations from the last 22 years. I would love to go back one day and photograph everything properly. Sorry for the late reply, your comment got lost in the mix. Merry Christmas, I hope you’re staying warm and safe.

      December 25, 2022 - 11:22 pm Reply
  • qprgary

    Will go back to India as never did this place though I could probably dona year there and still miss stuff. P.S. Had that shirt in long sleeve version.

    December 21, 2022 - 2:01 am Reply
    • Leighton

      I don’t think I ever had a long sleeve shirt, unless you count the goalkeeper. Most of my collected shirts have gone the way of the dodo, but this one still exists in a box in my mum’s loft.

      December 21, 2022 - 9:51 am Reply
  • NortheastAllie

    This looks like such a cool region, and a fun adventure riding on the camels!

    December 21, 2022 - 8:44 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Allie!

      December 21, 2022 - 9:53 am Reply
  • Snippets of Jaisalmer, India. – KENYA ON TRACK

    […] Snippets of Jaisalmer, India. […]

    December 21, 2022 - 10:34 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for the repost!

      December 21, 2022 - 11:19 am Reply
  • Ayi Ariquater

    Nice article.

    December 24, 2022 - 6:17 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thank you.

      December 24, 2022 - 9:24 am Reply
  • wetanddustyroads

    I had to laugh at that small TV – the ones at the back probably reacted to the cheers of the guys in the front row (and not on what they could see on the TV 😉). Yes, I was thinking the same thing … a free dinner at ‘your’ restaurant would have been fitting! And a camel ride in the desert – that’s pure Indiana Jones stuff! May you find your way back to Jaisalmer one day … it seems you have some photos to take of the ‘golden city’!

    December 25, 2022 - 11:54 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I would love to go back Corna. Just not sure a return to India is in the stars for us. Let’s see…

      December 26, 2022 - 10:14 am Reply
  • rkrontheroad

    I like your description of the yellow turning to gold. I do recall reading about your camel trek. Great memories in these snippets!

    December 27, 2022 - 11:01 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Ruth, Jaisalmer was a dream. If Sladja and I ever decide to spend some time in India, I’d be tempted to head back there to show her around. Hope the place hasn’t changed ‘too’ much

      December 27, 2022 - 11:17 pm Reply
  • ourcrossings

    How cool is it to find a restaurant in Jaisalmer, created in honour of your Birthday! Riding through the desert on a camel is incredible. You feel like a Bedouin or a Nomad. The scenery is amazing – red sand, dunes for miles, the dark blue sky, and unless you ride to an oasis which you may well do, there is nothing around. We went for a short camel ride in Morocco and it was an amazing experience. Although, I have to say that the camels are in fact more intimidating up close than they are on a television screen. Camels, whether they have one hump or two, are pretty large. And they are not like dogs who endear themselves to you, but I love how they kneel down for you to mount them. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    December 28, 2022 - 1:06 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I agree that camels can be intimidating. I was really wary of Lalou in the beginning, but we managed to forge a bond of sorts as the trek progressed. I briefly considered seeing some of the desert while in Morocco, maybe next time. Thanks for reading and commenting Aiva.

      December 28, 2022 - 1:18 pm Reply
  • Pratik

    Great blog about Jaisalmer!

    December 28, 2022 - 2:49 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thank you Pratik.

      December 28, 2022 - 4:59 pm Reply
      • Pratik

        Welcome 🤗

        December 28, 2022 - 10:49 pm
  • secret blogger

    WOW! Jaisalmer is just amazing I live in Ajmer and goes there every year . Amazed to know you wrote about it….

    December 29, 2022 - 10:02 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for reading, secret slogger. Jaisalmer remains probably my favourite place in India and one of my most cherished visits anywhere in the world. Appreciate your comment!

      December 29, 2022 - 10:09 am Reply
  • Toonsarah

    I loved Jaisalmer too – possibly my favourite of the cities we visited in Rajasthan (the other contender would be Bundi). I loved the winding streets, the golden stone, the intricate carving on the buildings – you’ve brought it all back to me!

    January 18, 2023 - 4:24 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for your comment Sarah, Jaisalmer sure is a special place.

      January 18, 2023 - 5:27 pm Reply
  • nick

    Great place to visit on 1st of jan

    March 18, 2023 - 2:34 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for your comment, Nick.

      March 18, 2023 - 5:19 pm Reply

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