Sonar Kella (The Golden Fort-Jaisalmer-Rajasthan-India)


Every Bengali knows the golden fort of Jaisalmer as the ‘Sonar Kella’ and probably loves it more after Satyajit Ray’s eponymous film starring Bengal’s favourite fictional detective Feluda.

I indeed was a little fascinated about Jaisalmer; its rugged sand and the golden hue. I wish I could take the majestic steam engine named ‘Fort of Jaisalmer,’ from Ramdevra, a tiny desolate desert village and reach Jaisalmer early in the morning to be greeted by the ever-shining desert. But God had some other plans for me and we reached Jaisalmer by car from Jodhpur; a fascinating drive through the barren lands with deer and peacocks running around making the otherwise quite journey a little life full. Our plan was to visit the famous fort and if time permitted the beautiful dunes that was around Jaisalmer.

It is said that we Indians breathe, eat & drink films so I wasn’t surprised when I first saw the fort of Jaisalmer and my mind went back to the film and quite unknowingly but excitedly I murmured ‘Sonar Kella.’ No harm in saying that I was totally awed by its sheer grandeur and the shade of gold on its walls.


(haveli inside the fort)


(The city of Jaisalmer and the Golden Fort)

Before our trip, a few friends had warned me that I would be highly disappointed if I went to Jaisalmer with the mindset of the film. Well, I actually did and I did not repent because the image of the fort was in my heart. When we went inside the fort, it was like a small city; people going to work, shops, temples and every other thing that would be there in a city. My mind had already drifted away from the traditional buildings and the latticed windows and I was looking for ‘Giridhari r bari and Ratan er bari and at some corner of my mind I was also looking for the temple that Mukul had been looking for. To my surprise, our guide took us to a place that looked nothing other than a dilapidated building with broken flight of steps going up to nowhere. The place looked very familiar and I was scared if I was also remembering my past life. Well, our guide explained that that particular place was called ‘Mukul Bari’ because it was that place where the film’s child hero was climbing up and down the stairs and saying ‘ekta mondir chhilo, mondir.’ (There was a temple here). If anyone reading this thinks me to be obsessed with the film and the place and there’s nothing wrong in it. In fact the entire population of Jaisalmer, knows about this film and have huge respect for Satyajit Ray and they are also conscious about the fact that every Bengali tourist comes there to see the fort.


(Mukul Bari)

After our usual touring of the fort we even had our trip to the Sam sand dunes which was a barren stretch of land with almost no vegetation at all and miles of miles of sand shifting away at regular intervals. We hoped for a clear weather and we had so. We took up Camel safaris and watched the majestic shifting of sands .The sand shimmered under the glow of the hot and comfortable winter sun, highlighting every aspect of a desert.  When hanger pangs beckoned, we had a delightful vegetarian meal, purely Rajasthani, comprising of lentils, a curry and puris; all among a group of folk singers in their usual gorgeous colourful ghagra-cholis, and typical local musical instruments, which were more look alikes of dholaks and sarengis…bliss!


(Camel safari)