CHANDAN SEN

Every year, during winter, Jaisalmer plays host to the Desert festival.

Jaisalmer (Jaisal and Meru) means the Fort of king Jaisal atop the hill. It brings to mind Satyajit Ray's film "Sonar Kella". The Sonar Kella rises from the sand and merges with the golden hues of the arid ambience blending medieval temper with modern day vibrancy. From the heart of the desert the golden city of Jaisalmer and its commanding fort etched in yellow sandstone welcomes you. Along the narrow lanes are magnificent havelis and temples The Jaisalmer Fort is the second oldest in Rajasthan after Chittorgarh. The harsh landscape has much to offer visitors. Once a year, in winter the land comes alive with the splendid presentations, music and celebration. This is the Maru Mahotsav. It is a grand show of the rich and colourful Rajasthani folk culture. The men and women in their bright costumes dance and sing ballads of valour and romance. Traditional musicians especially the Langaas and the Manganiars, the Kalbelias, the Tera Taali and the like present melodious recitals. The three-day extravaganza was held from January 31 to February 2.

Variety fare

On the schedule were the air show "Surya Kiran", a fire dance and the events at Poonam Singh stadium and Indira Indoor stadium, says tourist official Upendra Singh. Folk dances, exciting competitions, like turban-tying, bridal attire, Mr. Desert contest and camel races enlivened the festivities. Colourful haat (bazaars) are always popular and a sound and light spectacle has folk artists performing against the magnificent backdrop of the famous Sam sand dunes on the night of the full moon. The camels too have their share of fun with camel acrobatics, races, polo, tug of war and more. But the best is watching men dressed in traditional costumes astride their camels performing the camel dance. The festival reaches its grand finale with sparkling fireworks igniting the skies. The cultural exhibits, adventure, folklore, sports, traditions, lifestyles, natural ambience, excursion, people all add up to make the desert festival memorable.Jaisalmer showcases the best of its desert culture. The forts and monuments bear testimony to the kings of yesteryear and present a wonderful backdrop to the festival.This festival born out of tradition adorns the arid land and unifies each soul visiting this magic land. There's a rhythm, a joy, a passion, a spirit of romance, a feel of being one with the landscape.