Jaisalmer

One of Rajasthan's most alluring cities, Jaisalmer, deep in the heart of Thar Desert, abounds in ancient palaces, temples and quaint settlements. As the sun sets, the sandstone buildings emit a lustrous glow, that make Jaisalmer the "Golden City". Founded by Rawal Jaisal in 1156 A.D., the remote location of Jaisalmer, kept it almost untouched by outside influences, even during the days of the British Raj.

Very few cities can, even hope to match the sheer grandeur of this city. There is an undefinable aura of magic and mystery, that surrounds its famous desert-fortress - the yellow sandstone walls and bastions of which, take on a golden hue in the afternoon sun, which is why it is, so aptly, called Sonar Kila or the Golden Fort. 

What To See 

Jaisalmer Fort

Jaisalmer fort lies deep in the heart of the desert. Rising out of the sea of sand, its rounded battlements of golden sandstone, echoing the colour of the desert, this 12th century fort has proudly withstood the ravages of time. Walking down the narrow cobbled stone lanes, one can feel the magnetism of Jaisalmer. Several entrances, called 'pols', guard the Megh Durbar and the Jawahar Mahal, which bear the imperial symbols of the Bhatti clan's lunar lineage. Outside the fort, is the main market place called Manek Chowk. From Manek Chowk, one can walk into the lanes, where the famous carved havelis are to be found.

Within the fort, is a palace located on the highest point of Tricuta Hill, within a protective wall of double ramparts. Four gateways provided protection to the fort, and several tower-like buildings functioned as lookouts. The fort also houses a number of small Mahals, such as the Janaki Mahal, Moti Mahal, and the Phool Mahal. 

The Havelis Of Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer is famous for its intricately latticed havelis with conspicuous facades. 

Salim Singh ki Haveli

Built about 300 years ago, this haveli was the residence of the powerful Mohta clan - the hereditary ministers of the Jaisalmer rulers. The blue cupola roof is distinctive, and an exquisite projecting balcony adorns the top storey.Part of it is still occupied. 

Patwon ki Haveli

This is one of the largest and most elaborate havelis in Jaisalmer. Located in a narrow alley, it is five storeys high, and one of its rooms is adorned with exquisite murals. 

Nathmalji ki Haveli

One very interesting fact about this haveli, is that its two sides were carved by two brothers. Although the motif used by one is not similiar to the other, they are, nevertheless, in perfect harmony. One has to look very closely to spot any dissimiliarities. The excellent craftsmanship of the stone carver, is illustrated in the gossamer quality of the screened windows. Yellow sandstone elephants guard the building, and even the front door is an amazing piece of art. 

Tazia Tower

The pagoda - like Tazia Tower rises from the Badal Mahal (Palace of Clouds). Each storey of this five-tiered tower, has a beautifully carved balcony. Muslim craftsmen built the tower, in the shape of a Tazia (ornately decorated bamboo, paper and tinsel replicas of a bier carried in procession during Mohurram), and gifted it to their royal patron.

Parswanath Temple

The Parswanath Temple is the oldest, and the most beautiful of the Jain temples. The walls of the sanctum are carved with animal and human figures. The shikhara, is crowned by an amalak, and a waterpot containing a lotus flower.

Lodurva Jain Temple

15 km from Jaisalmer, are the deserted ruins of this town, which was the ancient capital, previous to Jaisalmer. It is an important centre of Jain pilgrimage. The temples at Lodurva exhibit fine examples of intricate craftsmanship on yellow stone. They have ornate carved arches at the entrance, and a Kalputra, the Divine - Tree, within. In the temple, is a hole from which, a snake is said to emerge every evening, to drink an offering of milk. Only the ' blessed' can actually see it, it is said.

Gadsisar Lake

A rainwater lake, now a picnic spot - ideal for boating.

Sam

From Jaisalmer, it is possible to get an insight into desert life, by visiting the Sam sand dunes. It is a great place to see lovely patterns carved out by winds, on the sand. Camel rides on the sand dunes are a thrilling experience, as is the brilliant sunset.

Wood Fossil Park, Aakal

An impressive fossil park, bearing witness to the geologic cataclysms, that have taken place in the Thar.

Desert National Park

An extensive variety of desert birdlife, ranging from birds of prey to sandgrouse, doves, shrikes, bee-eaters, warblers and desert coursers, are to be found in the National Park. The most remarkable bird of the desert, the Great Indian Bustard can also be sighted here. Among the animals to be seen, are the desert fox, wolf, blackbuck, chinkara, nilgai, and the crusted porcupine. 

Festivals 

The vibrant Marwar festival held annually brings to life, the very essence of the magic, that is Rajasthan. 

Camel Safaris

An intriguing way of exploring the vast desert around Jaisalmer, is the Camel Safari - a prime attraction for visitors. Most safaris last 3 to 4 days, and thread their way through Amar Sagar, Ludharva, Mool Sagar, Bada Bagh and Sam, as well as several abandoned villages on the way. The best time for a safari is October to February.

The Desert Adventure 
Bikaner
Jodhpur
Jaisalmer