Search for the perfect sand dune – Osiyan, Khimsar and Nagaur trip.


Till we actually moved to Jaipur and explored Rajasthan, any thoughts of Rajasthan would evoke visions of Camels, Sand dunes, Forts and Palaces. While finding Camels, Forts and Palaces is quite easy, finding a Sand dune is not so easy. Especially dunes that look like the ‘perfect’ ones shown in movies…

While researching on the places where we could see authentic Sand dunes in Rajasthan, some of the places that we had put onto our list were ‘Sam’, ‘Mahabar’, ‘Osiyan’ and ‘Khimsar’.

During our big trip around Rajasthan, we had visited the sand dunes at ‘Sam’, near Jaisalmer and ‘Mahabar’ near Barmer. Since Osiyan was a deviation from the route we took for the big trip, we had to skip it. But the place that really fascinated us was ‘Khimsar’. The brochures and some odd pix we found on the net looked like postcards ! Can a dune be really so perfect ? Huge sand mounds, with a collection of huts in the middle… an oasis with some trees and birds… It looked too perfect to be true.

Like most of our trips, this too was planned at a really short notice. The original plan for the weekend of the 27th Jan 2012 was to go to Neemrana. However we decided to explore Rajasthan a little more before the onset of summer and at 8.00am in the morning, we were looking at the maps to decided where would we head towards.

“Ok, if Neemrana is out, then we should probably head towards some of the places we missed during our big trip”
“Osiyan is a good bet, we can also cover Khimsar and Nagaur over the next couple of days”
“Will we get reservations ?”
“Let me see… Osiyan should not be a problem since we can find at least a dharamshala or a motel there, the challenge would be around Khimsar, since we want to stay in the Dunes village.. let me call them up now…”

Called the Khimsar palace resort folks and they confirmed that they did have accommodation available both in the palace hotel and at the dunes village. So Khimsar it would be !

Packing was not much of a hassle; thrown some jeans and t-shirts into a bag, throw the bag and the sleeping bags into the car and off we went… We were still wondering; can Khimsar dunes be as perfect as what they look like in the pix ?

The trip started on the 27th of January 2012 and we returned back to Jaipur on the 29th of January. The route we took was to start from Jaipur at around 10.30am and drive towards Jodhpur via Ajmer, turned towards Osiyan before we reached Jodhpur. Reached Osiyan at around 6.00pm and went to the Sachaiya Mata temple and later found a place to stay overnight. Woke up early the next morning and started exploring Osiyan. Had brunch and set off towards Khimsar at around 12.00 noon.

Reached Khimsar, had a leisurely lunch at the Khimsar fort, explored the place for about an hour and the resort folks arranged for the Jeep to take us to the Dunes Village.

Since there was only one other couple at the Dunes village, we pretty much had the resort to ourselves and we spent the evening walking around the place. At around 8.00pm, we had a simple dinner and settled down near a campfire with a local villager singing traditional Rajasthani folk songs.

We checked out of the resort at around 1.00pm the next day and headed towards Nagaur. Explored the Nagaur fort, had lunch and set off towards Jaipur; reaching home at around 8.00pm.

Route map: Jaipur > Osiyan > Khimsar > Nagaur > Jaipur. Total distance covered was around 820 kms.


A Kos minar on the way to Ajmer.
These Minars were erected by the Mughal Emperors on the main highways across the empire to mark the distance. The Kos Minar is a solid round pillar, around 30 feet in height that stands on a masonry platform built with bricks and plastered over with lime. Though not architecturally very impressive they were an important part of communication and travel in a large empire. Kos Minars were used to mark the royal route from Agra to Ajmer via Jaipur in the west, from Agra to Lahore via Delhi in the north and from Agra to Mandu via Shivpuri in the south. Modern Indian highways have come up along roughly the same routes as those marked by these minars.”


By the time we passed Jodhpur and turned towards Osiyan, it was already quite late in the evening…


We reached in time for the aarti at the Sachiya mata temple and enquired at the temple office if there was accommodation available. We were directed towards the temple dharamshala a little on the outskirts of the town. Rs.150 for a clean and basic room, per night. With hot water available in the morning. More than what we wanted !


Woke up in the morning. Munched on some snacks that we were carrying and set out to walk through Osiyan. There are quite a few small temples scattered around the town, in various states of disrepair.

Osiyan or Osian popularly known as ” Gateway to The Thar Desert ” is a small town known for it’s ancient temple ruins.The ancient town of Thar Desert was a great trading center between 8th to 12th centuries. Today it is desert oasis with 16 Brahamanical and Jain temples, beautifully sculpted and designed, most of which have stood ravages of time.


Small, but intricately carved…


The biggest temple in Osiyan, the Sachiya Mata temple. Wikipedia says “Sachiya Mata (also spelled Sachayay Mata & sachchiyay mata), (Hindi: सच्चियाय माता/सच्चिया माता) The mother goddess, is worshipped as Kuldevi by Marwadi Maheshwari, Panwar Rajputs/Parmar Rajputs, Lakhesar [Kumawat], Oswal, Charans, Jains,Pareek [bhramin] and many other castes living in Rajasthan and Gujarat. Her temple is located in Ossian, near Jodhpur city of Rajasthan. Temple was built by Great Parmar King Upendre for his Kul devi in 9th – 10th century.


We came across this interesting courtship scene…


While the smaller temples have been somewhat repaired by ASI, there are no proper signboards and not many details are available about them.


After we had covered Osiyan, we had breakfast in a small hotel and set out to visit the sand dunes outside the town…


We reached the “Ret ka tibba”. These dunes are cleaner than the Sam dunes and are not so commercialized… Thankfully, the winter Sun was still quite mild. Even at around 12.00 noon, we could walk through the dunes without having to worry too much about the heat.


You can also come across villagers walking across the dunes towards their hamlets a couple of miles away…


After spending some time at the dunes, we set out towards Khimsar… which is around 65 – 70 kms from Osiyan.


As you drive through the interior roads, the desert makes it presence felt…


Khimsar fort at last !!!

The fort website says ” Founded in the early 16th century, the Karamsot dynasty has a long lineage of capable rulers who fought hard battles but “lived with grace and dignity”. Rao Karamsiji was the eighth son of Rao Jodhaji who was the founder of Jodhpur.He established his kingdom between his brothers- the Maharajas of Jodhpur and Bikaner. The construction of the fort commenced in 1523 A.D. in the fairytale land of majestic forts and palaces. Thus began the dynasty of the Karamsot Rathores


An aerial photo of the fort and palace area…


We were quite excited about the dunes village… can it really be so perfect ?


We walked through the small fort and palace. We were given a small guided tour by the hotel staff…


Lunch was served at the grand dining room…


The Royal family still resides here in a section of the palace…


The rest of the fort and the palace area has been converted into a heritage hotel…




The oldest building in the fort has been converted into a restaurant…


The smaller standard rooms… The regal suite is a huge and elaborate affair though !


The banquet hall..


Post lunch we rested for a while and arrangements were made to ferry us to the dunes village. Since part of the route goes through some sandy tracks, they arrange for a jeep to ferry all guests from the palace to the dunes village and back. A 20 minute drive and we arrived at the dunes village. And it was picture perfect !


A camel cart for ferrying guests within the resort area…


The dunes are actually private property. They are regularly cleaned and are fenced off. The resort operates only during the winter months and shuts down from March onwards for around six months. That weekend, there was just one more couple staying there… so we had the entire place to ourselves !


Nice & cosy round huts… equipped with a room-heater to ward off the cold desert nights.


A small birdie decided to visit our hut…


Later that day, we went for a walk along the perimeter of the resort…



The bigger hut, for large families…


The next morning, we woke up late… had a nice breakfast. Took some more pix and bid goodbye to the resort folks. The jeep ferried us back to the fort palace where we checked out (The room rates are around 9k per night, per couple, for the stay at the dunes.)

Next stop would be Nagaur…

After a pleasant drive, we reached Nagaur at around 2.00pm. Since we had a heavy breakfast, we decided to visit the Nagaur fort first and then have lunch.


“Nagaur is referred to in the Mahabharata. The kingdom of Ahichhatrapur which Arjuna is said to have conquered and subsequently offered to his Guru Dronacharya, was perhaps some of the area of the Nagaur district. It was the capital of Jangaldesh. The foundation of city dates back to 4th century BC. Nagas originally ruled over this place and about 7th century onwards the Chauhans became the overlords of Nagaur and it was included in Sapadalaksha. Nagaur city was at the center of Muslim invasion from Central Asia.

The fourth century mud fort Ahhichatragarh, built by the Nagavanshis, was re-built in stone by Mohammed Bahlim, Governor of the Ghaznivites, in the early twelfth century, over the mound of the ancient mud fort. In the middle ages Ahhichatragarh was at different times held by the early Chauhans, Chalukayas, the great Prithviraj Chauhan, Ghazni, Ghori, Iltutmish, Balban, Allauddin Khilji, Hamir Chauhan of Ranthambore, the Khanjada and Lodi Dynasties, Sher Shah Suri and finally, the Mughals.

From the great Emperor Akbar’s time up to the end of Mughal rule in India, Nagaur alternated between the Rathores of Jodhpur and Bikaner and the Mughals. “


Many parts of the fort and the buildings inside are currently being renovated…


An aerial view of the Nagaur fort…


The exquisite paintings inside the palace buildings are being restored and preserved, with help from UNESCO and some foreign experts…


We spent a good three hours walking around the fort and it was time to head home. Went to the parking area (We found this colorful rickshaw waiting there for passengers). Started the Xing and headed back towards Jaipur. Later that evening, we stopped at the McDonalds outside Ajmer for some refreshments and there on it was a non-stop drive back to Jaipur.




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2 comments to...
“Search for the perfect sand dune – Osiyan, Khimsar and Nagaur trip.”
Ramesh M K

Ramesh from Barsingsar, Bikaner.
Thanks for Sharing. Detailed travelogs.
Please give details reg Resort (Cost, Contact Numbers).


Awesome blog. Thanks for the loads of info.

Can you please provide more info on the “Ret ka tibba” sand dunes that you guys have mentioned? Where exactly is this place near Osian? and How do we get there?


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