In case you are planning to spend this Diwali and the coming New Year in the desert city of Jaisalmer, think twice.
With high advance bookings, hotel rooms are going full for both these days. Most hotels have put up 'No Rooms' boards at their entrances on Thursday, on the eve of the festival of lights.
Jaisalmer has around 750-1,000 rooms in big and small hotels put together. Getting accommodation even in the 300-500 Swiss tents erected on sand dunes in and around the city is difficult.
"This year, especially, Diwali and the last week of December have been sold out. There are no rooms even in small hotels, forget about the big ones," said Karan Singh, a travel agent dealing in inbound tours.
"I had to re-work the tour itineraries of my clients coming from Germany. They wanted to spend two nights on Diwali days, but with no rooms available now we plan to take them to the city after Nov 11," Sanjay Rawat, a tour operator said.
"I love the open skies in the desert and the fireworks. I really was fascinated at the idea of being here for Diwali. But sadly, my agent has told me there is no accommodation there and I will have to spend the nights in Jodhpur," Michelle, a tourist from France, said.
Even tented accommodation is booked. This kind of accommodation is mainly available in Sam, Khuri and Rawla about 30-40 kms from the city, and tourists, especially foreigners, love to stay in them.
These tents are as good as a 4-5 star hotel accommodation. "They have all the luxuries of a hotel, plus you also get a feeling of living in the middle of the desert," Navendu Goswami, a travel agent, said, adding that even this kind of accommodation had fallen short this year.
"Getting a room even at a high rate is difficult, forget about getting rooms at normal tariff," he added.
Surendra Singh, who is constructing a new hotel, said the tourist traffic this year must be 20-30 per cent higher than last year.
"It is the beauty, sand dunes, culture and heritage of Jaisalmer, that is attracting tourists to the city," Singh added.