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The Vaishnodevi Experience 2023

My first trip to Vaishnodevi was unimpressive. Climbing was hard, and it only served to highlight how badly out of shape I was, while my in-laws managed to cope so much better. Further, I hadn’t quite realized that the cave experience wouldn’t be the same as I had imagined, since the original cave was only opened at certain times a year, and that we only entered a newly created tunnel, one far easier to access, and hence more manageable with the crowds that thronged the mountain shrine. The resulting experience at the shrine, for barely a fraction of a second, hardly compared to what I had expected / imagined / heard about. So, for me, Vaishnodevi was like any other temple, nothing to write home about, something that was reflected (though not explicitly mentioned) in the blog post I wrote then.

Wildlife in the Desert

Black Bucks ran across the road, peacocks danced as we watched, birds flew into the air, and insects and reptiles scuttled into their safe havens at our approach. Our recent trip to Jaisalmer was full of such 'wild' encounters! 

It all began with this tiny insect I saw on the ground. Its camouflage was what attracted me the most.... I think its some variety of cricket. 

Then, as we stopped to look at a string of camels, we spotted a surprisingly large number of lizards disappearing into their holes. At first, this is all we could see...

Then, I was lucky to get a closer shot of the lizard... it looks like a Desert Monitor, but can someone help with the name please?
P.S. Thanks to Sumer Singh Rathore and Adesh Shivkar, for identifying this as the Indian Spiny Tailed Lizard or Saara Hardwickii, called 'Saand' in the local language. They are common in the arid regions of Gujarat and Rajasthan and are prey food for several species of raptors. Also, they are prey to humans, who extract oil from them for medicinal and other purposes. 

While looking for the lizards, this is what we saw... A complete contrast to the first camouflage, right? This bug couldnt stand out more if it tried!!! It is the Red Velvet Mite, or Rain Bug, and interestingly, is called Beer Bahuti, in India, and is used for a variety of local medicines!! Want to know more, head to the Wikipedia page, which has some gory details...

Later, we surprised a herd of Nilgais at a watering hole. 

But the most memorable were the number of peacocks we saw at the Khaba Fort!!

I haven't even begun to talk of the birds we saw, simply because to stop for them would have meant missing some other interesting aspects of the desert. They will have to wait for another trip!! 

I was in Jaisalmer on an invite from Suryagarh, Jaisalmer, for a Travel Bloggers and Writers meet, and this trip showed me a completely different side of Jaisalmer... one which made me want to go back, at leisure! The wildlife is just one aspect of it, and there is lots more coming up soon! 


  1. Beautiful captures,the peacock looks as if it is posing for you.LOL.Great work :)

    1. Thank you, Avneet!! There were so many peacocks that it was easy to click them! all we had to do was wait for the right pose!!

  2. When did you click all these Anu!!! Awesome ones :)

    1. Thank you, Sid! I clicked the insect at the temple while you were busy with clicking Ankita and the others on the ground.. the bug before we realised we had left you behind, and the lizard when we brought you back!!! you saw the nilgai as well didnt you, at the watering place?

  3. The lizard is a Spiny-tailed Lizard (Saara hardwickii, syn. Uromastyx hardwickii) ..... they are common in the arid regions Rajasthan and Gujarat and a prey food for several species of raptors (Eagles, Falcons etc)

    -Adesh Shivkar

  4. Anu, glad to know that you are having a good time traveling with family. Do you have any plans to visit Karnataka? Do let me know. Also, did you opt for package tour or you traveled on your own. What I mean is, did you plan your own itinerary? Do share tips and suggestions for first-time travelers to Jaisalmer.

    1. Thank you Rajesh! I visited Jaisalmer as part of a bloggers group. We did not plan our itinerary.

  5. Rajasthan is colorful and "wild"ful as well !

  6. Loved the pictures! Specially the red valvet mite.


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