It’s still dark when we start our journey through India’s vast Thar desert. A smell of burnt wood and incense lies in the air. The night was cold and the last remains of wood and coal are still glooming in the fireplace of our desert camp. A couple of Rajasthani people are also up early to praise their Hindu gods and offer incense, while we are heading to a special place called Gadisar lake to witness the sunrise.
The vitality of water among the desert
Gadisar lake is like a miracle at the edge of the desert town of Jaisalmer. It’s a man-made lake that dates back to the 13th century and is said to have provided enough water for the whole city back in the days. Today it’s a popular area to relax, watch birds or go on a boat ride – for locals and visitors alike. There are shrines and temples dotted along the shores of the lake and even right in the middle of it! At sunrise the atmosphere is especially magical and calm.
In February the nights are cold and it almost smells like winter – the crisp air fills our lungs while we watch the sun appear behind the domes of the shrines.
Nomadic journeys of the Thar desert
So here I am in the very western part of India, traveling through Rajasthan in my personal nomadic way. Always at my side: Chloé NOMADE, a scent for women who are open to encounter the world. If you’ve been around for a while you know I’ve partnered up with Chloé back in 2018 for the first time, when I traveled through Namibia’s desert. Fast forward to 2020: Chloé released a new scent in the NOMADE lineup called “Absolu de Parfum“, which contains a new ingredient, a local Indian essential oil made from a plant with the Sanskrit name Davana.
In India Davana blossoms are offered to god Shiva and the oil is said to smell different on everyone’s skin, which makes it a highly sought-after ingredient in high class perfumery.
When the sun is finally up I do what I love the most – take photos and soak in the unique atmosphere of a place, always reminding myself what a privilege it is to be able to travel for a living.
Back into the desert
As soon as the sunlight becomes harsh we jump inside the car and make our way back into the desert. Leaving the sounds and scents of the city of Jaisalmer behind, we enter a different world when we arrive in our remote luxury camp in the desert.
Descendants of the last nomads of Rajasthan
When you visit the Thar desert you’ll get to encounter some of the last remaining descendants of what used to be the nomads of India and Rajasthan. They used to travel through the desert with their little belongings, only resting where they would find water or food for their most precious property – their camels. Nowadays the only real nomads you’ll meet in Rajasthan are the ones that are camping in villages while on their trade routes – the camels in the desert have become more of a tourist attraction.
The scents of Rajasthan
Everyone says the smells of India can be overpowering and intense and I can’t deny that they are right. The streets of India are a festival of different scents. But the Rajasthani people have found their ways to create a universe of powerful fragrances to clear their noses from everyday smells of the street. So when a stench hits you in the street, just walk around the corner and be engulfed in a fresh breeze of roses, marigolds or incense sticks, which are used frequently by Rajasthan’s inhabitants.
As a photographer I’m always relying on my senses to discover a place – and it’s not just my visual sense. A beautiful scent can draw me to a new scene, people burning incense in front of a temple, locals selling fresh rose flowers as offerings at the market, a street vendor using rose water to flavour a delicious lassi…
Scents touch you everywhere you go in Rajasthan!
Click here to order your own Chloé NOMADE Absolu de Parfum scent.
This is a sponsored post for Chloé. We paid the trip & flights ourselves. The views in this blogpost are our own.