Jaisalmer – golden city of Rajasthan amidst Thar desert

Jaisalmer – face of incredible India is an exotic fortress city situated amidst picturesque Thar Desert. The name Jaisalmer induces a dramatic picture of utter magic and brilliance of the desert, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations among Indian as well as foreign tourists. Magnificent palaces, Golden fort, ancient imposing temples and havelis provide this wonderful place a permanent spot in the tourist map of India. Considered to be the poster city of “Incredible India”, Jaisalmer with its rich and colorful cultural heritage is indeed a unique tourist destination revered both by Indians as well as foreign tourists.

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Panoramic view of the golden city – Jaisalmer

About Jaisalmer

The desert city of Jaisalmer is located at the ridge of the kingdom of golden-yellow sands of the Thar Desert at the foothills of the massive Aravalli Hills. With a huge fort made of sandstone at the centre of the city and several old mansions, better known as Havelis, this city of medieval era has a rich cultural heritage and is known for the warmth of its people. The surrounding desolate landscape, that are evidences of stark, austere beauty and the scope of undertaking Camel safaris through the nearby desert dunes makes it all the more popular among tourists.

Founded by Rao Jaisal Yadav in 1156, Jaisalmer with its huge fort having great historical significance has grown into fame as a romantic gateway for exotic enjoyments and breathtaking views. The ornate temples and many buildings are real unique specimens of the rich sculptural extravaganza of medieval Rajasthan. The amalgamation of ancient and the medieval era architecture will definitely make you spell bound.

Jaisalmer has been further enriched by its Jain community which has adorned the city with beautiful Jain temples most notably the temples dedicated to 16th Tirthankar Lord Shantinath and 23rd Tirthankar Lord Parshvanath. Jaisalmer boasts some of the oldest libraries of India which contain rarest of the manuscripts and artifacts of Jainism.

Jaisalmer Sightseeing

Jaisalmer Fort

As Taj Mahal is synonymous with Agra, Jaisalmer Fort is synonymous with Jaisalmer. Built in 1156 by the Bhatti Rajput ruler Rao Jaisal Yadav bang in the middle of the Thar Desert, the Jaisalmer Fort rises like a mirage from the sands, with its huge turrets pointing skywards. Mounted atop Trikuta, the almost triangular shaped hill, reinforced by an imposing sandstone wall 30 feet high and with as many as 99 bastions is indeed one of the most marvelous and magical structure of Rajasthan.

Made of yellow sandstone and locally known as Sonar Quila, this living fort with quarter of the city’s population is one of the largest forts of the world. Yellow sandstone lends the golden color to the fort that lures tourists from all over the world. Interior of the fort is packed with palaces, havelis, houses, temples, handicraft shops and honeycombed with narrow, winding stone paved lanes. Vehicles being not allowed inside the fort make the place very quiet. The palace of the Maharawals lie in front of the Chauhata Square is a place worth a visit. The Maharawal’s marble throne is placed over a flight of marble steps. There is also a five-storied Tazia tower constructed by Muslim craftsmen and decorated with ornate Bengali styled roofs. For the defense of the people, another wall was constructed parallel to the first wall. A pathway lies in between the two. The entrance gates are named as Ganesh Pol, Rang Pol, Bhoota Pol and the Hava Pol. The royal family resides in the Jawahar Palace. The market place in the fort is known as the Manek Chowk.

Colourful shades of the setting sun and golden hues of the desert ambience give a fairy tale look to this mega structured fort. Jaisalmer fort by nightfall is a sight to behold with all the romance and suspense of mystery. The fort looks magical when it is lit up at night. The fort walls provide superb views over the old city and surrounding desert. Strolling around the outer fort ramparts is a popular activity at sunset.

Palaces in the Jaisalmer Fort

The Main Chowk inside the Jaisalmer fort houses five palaces, Sarvottam Vilas, Akhai Vilas, Gaj Mahal, Rang Mahal and Moti Mahal, all interconnected behind the seven-storied façade. Though the palace of Jaisalmer is small as compared to the great palaces of Udaipur, Jodhpur, and Jaipur, yet it is a fine example of architectural mastery and is extremely popular among the tourists.

The Rang Mahal built by Mool Raj II has some exquisite murals painted on arches and spandrels. Music and dances soirees were held here for royal ladies. From the balconies you get a terrific view of the mammoth ramparts below guarding the small city. Balconies at the Gaj Mahal are also breathtakingly beautiful. From the rooftop 360º view of the city of Jaisalmer and the surrounding Thar Desert is simply breathtaking.

Salem Singh ki Haveli

This 300 year old haveli is an Arabian Nights structure seen as the pride of Jaisalmer. Located at the eastern end of the city, this magnificent structure epitomizes the richness of the Rajasthani form of architecture and is a part of national heritage. The haveli was built by Salem Singh, who was the prime minister when Jaisalmer was the capital of the princely state. This spectacular structure which like a wild flower blossoms at the top is unique and highly admired. With beautiful arched roof, exquisite pavilion, peacock carvings on the walls and many more this haveli is one of the most popular sightseeing destinations of Jaisalmer.

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Magnificient Patwon ki haveli of Jaisalmer

Patwon ki Haveli

This truly magnificent haveli with beautifully carved stonework and enviable rooftop is actually a cluster of 5 small havelis. The five-storied Patwon ki Haveli is the largest of its kind in Jaisalmer that entices you with its hypnotic charm. This elaborate and fascinating mansion was constructed by Guman Chand Patwa and his five sons, who were famous trader of and dealt in gold, brocade and silver. Located on a narrow lane in the main Jaisalmer city, Patwon ki haveli with its five suites built between 1800 and 1860 are virtually the showpiece of Jaisalmer’s legendary architectural wealth.

An architectural marvel of the bygone era, the Patwon-ki Haveli was made of yellow sandstone, although the the main gateway is brown in color. This mega structure features a number of balconies projecting from different storeys and numerous intricately carved pillars. The balconies are so delicately chiselled that one would stand mesmerized by the splendor of it. When viewed early in the morning or in late afternoon the oblique sunrays create enchanting and dramatic shadows, highlighting the carving. This open air museum that has preserved for centuries the heritage of the rich merchant class is a popular sightseeing destination among tourists.

Nathmal ki Haveli

This Haveli, a mixture of both Rajput structural design as well as Islamic sculpture is considered the best in Jaisalmer in terms of grandeur. The Muslim artisans did a wonderful job here and left a marvelous legacy of craftsmanship that is unique in detail and flawless in conception. Constructed by the two brothers, Hathi and Lulu who were known for their unique architectural capability and imagination, the haveli used to serve as the royal residence of the then Prime Minister of region, Diwan Mohata Nathmal. One of the most recent Havelis of Jaisalmer built in 1885 AD; it has a unique story to tell about its construction. The two architect brothers took to left and right side respectively for constructing the Haveli, yet the Haveli boasts of striking symmetry.

Bada Bagh

It is a garden complex 6 Km north of Jaisalmer worthy of visit. Built in the built in memory of the city’s rulers during 16th and 17th century, the gardens are largely neglected, but the hill with the cenotaphs (chattri) is still quite an interesting sight. Tourists visits Bada Bagh to witness the intricate architectural splendor of the cenotaphs or chattris built by various Bhatti rulers as a tribute o their predecessors. Apart from cenotaphs, tourists can also see the Jait Sar tank, the Jait Bandh dam, and a Govardhan Stambh inside the park. Visitors will enjoy the beautifully carved structures at sunrise or sunset when picture perfect light abounds. Built with the famous golden stone of Jaisalmer, the sight of the cenotaphs standing in tandem makes a picture perfect postcard.

Nathmalji-ki-Haveli

This haveli today stands as one of its most famous attractions of Jaisalmer, where hundreds of curious tourist visit and feel absolutely awed by the aura and artistic brilliance of the grand structure. On the entrance of the Nathmalji ki Haveli, two life-size replicas of elephants made of yellow stones. The right and left wing of the Haveli are adorned by miniature paintings of flora, cattle and horses on its wall. The projected balconies, which seem to emerge from books of poetry needs special mention.

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Gadisar lake with golden fort at the back

Gadisar Lake

Excavated by Maharaja Gadsi Singh in 1367 AD, this man-made artificial lake situated outside the city wall on the southern side is locally called Gadsi Sagar. Gadisar Lake is one of the most important tourist attractions in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, transporting you into a different world altogether. Boating in the lake water is an experience of a lifetime. Sight of rare migratory birds is quite common, especially during winter months. The yellow sandstone banks changing its hues of ochre with the setting sun, is a delightful panorama that can hardly be described. The view of the Jaisalmer Fort from the Gadisar Lake is simply breathtaking.

The entrance to the Gadisar Lake is through a magnificent and artistically carved yellow sandstone archway that is known as the Tilon-Ki-Pol. Artistically carved Chattris, Temples, Shrines and Ghats surrounding the banks of the Lake coupled with its tranquil water make it an ideal place to spend time in a serene atmosphere.

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Interior of the Jain temple at Jaisalmer

Jain Temples

Within the fort complex of Jaisalmer lies a group of seven Jain temples highly revered by people from all religions. Constructed between 12th to 15th centuries and dedicated to prominent Jain Tirthankaras (Hermits), the temples are an important pilgrimage destination for the followers Jainism. Of the seven temples three shrines dedicated to Rikhabdevji, Paraswanathji and Sambhavnathji constitute the most important ones. Paraswanathji temple is regarded as the most stunning and magnanimous. It houses a statue of Lord Mahavira carved in emerald that is known for its divine ambience and aura of peace. The Ashtapadhi temples are equally famous and popular. A series of alleys and corridors connects the temples with each other.

Craved of yellow sandstones and built in the Dilwara style these Jain temples stands as a testimony to cities glorious past, religious fervor and splendorous architectural skills. Carved lotus symbols on the temple domes, number of stone sculptures and captions of on the temple walls, rich carvings of animal and human figures and the sense of calmness and serenity makes the Jain temples one of the most popular and sought after tourist destinations of Jaisalmer.

Sam Sand Dunes

Situated at a distance of approximately 42 km from the city of Jaisalmer in the midst of the Thar Desert, Sam sand dunes has developed into a major tourist attraction in recent years. The unique experience of enjoying a desert safari on a camel back along the breathtaking crests and troughs and an overnight stay at Sam is an experience of a lifetime.

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Cultural show at Sam Sand Dunes

During sunset the place the place becomes magical. Watching the sand dunes in the faint orange glow of the sun with the ballads of the legendary lovers playing in the background is bound to make you completely speechless. The night spent sleeping in the open under the cover of the star-studded sky has a definite aura of romance that remain vivid in memory all throughout the life.

In the month of February – March, this whole place turns into a cultural hub. The desert festival organized amid these dunes showcasing the Rajasthani culture has became a major attraction for foreign and domestic tourists. During these two months Jaisalmer witnesses the largest tourist influx. Light and sound show, gala spectacles of dance and music, open-air cultural extravaganzas, puppet shows, folk dance performances, camel races, competitions and general festivities is the highlight of the festival.

There are quite a number of other places in and around Jaisalmer that are quite fascinating and are worth visiting. Some of them are : Amar Sagar Lake (beautiful lake cum Oasis), Amar Singh Palace (five story high haveli adjacent to Amar Sagar Lake and is famous for its murals), Tazia Tower (built by Muslim craftsmen on the shape of Tazia, it is a 5-storied structure where each story has significance of its own), Lodhurva (15 km northwest of Jaisalmer, are the deserted ruins of Lodhurva, which was the ancient capital of the Bhattis Rajputs. Lodurva is also known for its Jain temples made of bright yellow sandstones. Though in ruins, the splendors of these Jain temples are clearly visible), Desert National Sanctuary (excellent example of the ecosystem of the Thar Desert and its diverse fauna where sand dunes covers around 20% of the area. Black Buck, Desert Fox, Bengal Fox, Wolf and Desert Cat are the predominant inhabitants of the sanctuary), Bada Bagh (16th century garden on the Ramgarh road has a tank and a dam. In the vicinity is the Govardhan Stambh) and many more.

How to reach Jaisalmer?

By Air

The city of Jaisalmer does have an airport, which is primarily a base of Indian Air Force. Only very recently Jaisalmer Airport (JSA) is served by limited civilian flights. Kingfisher Airlines has recently started flight service from Delhi to Jaisalmer Airport. But the flights are not regular and mostly available in peak season only.

Airport at Jodhpur at a distance of about 285 Km is thus the better option. Jodhpur is well connected to all the major metros of India by national as well as private airlines. From Jodhpur one can hire Cabs, Pre-paid taxi or take a train journey according to his wish and preference.

By Rail

Jaisalmer has its own railway station at a distance of about 2 Km east of the city. Being an important railway station of the western zone, it is well connected to Jodhpur as well as other major cities of India including Agra, Jaipur, New Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai.

By Road

Jaisalmer is well connected to the rest of state and cities of neighboring states by well-maintained roads. Deluxe, semi deluxe, AC buses, Ordinary buses of Rajasthan Roadways and Private companies operates between Jaisalmer and Jodhpur, Jaipur, Bikaner, Barmer, Mount Abu, Jalore, Ahemdabad etc. at regular intervals.

Where to stay at Jaisalmer?

Jaisalmer, over the years has grown into a popular tourist destination of India not only because of its unique and charming beauty, but also because of its hospitality as well. Here tourists are treated as Gods. Jaisalmer has a large number of hotels of various categories and range. Heritage hotel, deluxe hotels, budget hotels and cheap hotels are ample in numbers. Only the name of some of the best hotels of Jaisalmer is mentioned here. There are quite a large number of other hotels as well.

Golden Haveli Hotel

With unrivaled views of Jaisalmer Fort on one side and the open expanse of the desert on the other, this family-run hotel offers a picture-perfect retreat for the weary traveler. Situated in a peaceful location, yet with the Fort just a short walk away, the Golden Haveli offers all the modern amenities that the international traveler requires. All the rooms are tastefully decorated and are air-conditioned. Seated bay windows offer cozy nooks to relax and enjoy the views.

For booking contact at : 02992 250821/2, 9414149464. To know more about this hotel and to know its status of accommodation availability or to avail the online booking facility, just click HERE.

Hotel The Royale Jaisalmer

This centrally located modern hotel with royal touch is distinctively different in its hospitality and service. Tastefully designed suites and cottages reflect a rich heritage. Presence of swimming pool is another of its crowning glory.

For booking this hotel, contact at : 02992 – 252601/252605, 09001870870, 09252808707, 09252 870870. To know more about this hotel and to know its status of accommodation availability or to avail the online booking facility, just click HERE.

Hotel Narain Niwas Palace

This heritage hotel in the heart of the golden city Jaisalmer was restored and converted into a hotel in 1982. Its golden sandstone structures and intricate carvings are a tribute to the talent of the master craftsmen of the bygone era. With 50 air conditioned rooms each bearing testimony to the ethnic grandeur and beauty of Rajasthan, the hotel is one of the most sought after hotels of Jaisalmer. With the “Golden Fort” of Jaisalmer in the background, the roof top restaurant and bar offer the most spectacular sight of the Thar Desert. An all weather indoor swimming pool or bawri coupled by a gymnasium and sauna add to the charm.

For booking, contact at : 02992 – 251901-906, 9024586868. To know more about this hotel and to know its status of accommodation availability or to avail the online booking facility, just click HERE.

Hotel Shreenath Palace

This 450-year-old beautiful Haveli, once inhabited by the Prime Minister under the Maharaja has been partly converted to a hotel. The gorgeous archways, alluring alcoves, sizable rooms opening onto small balconies and rich ambiance are bound to give you the feeling of a Maharaja. With spectacular views all around the Fort, the city and to the desert beyond it is one of the sought after hotels of Jaisalmer. As there are only 5 rooms available, prior and advance booking is a must.

For booking, contact at : 02992 – 252907, 9214429307. To know more about this hotel and to know its status of accommodation availability or to avail the online booking facility, just click HERE.

Hotel Rang Mahal

This centrally located palace hotel of Jaisalmer is where traditional hospitality of India can be experienced at its very best. Get a taste of royal hospitality in Hotel Rang Mahal, one of the most palatial hotels in Jaisalmer. With 60 Royal rooms, 58 deluxe rooms, 1 Royal suite and 2 Tower suite, this heritage hotel is all set to lighten up the spirit and essence of Rajasthani culture. Luxuriate and impressive interiors of Hotel Rangmahal is truly classy and royal in nature.

For booking, contact at : 02992 – 251095, 251485. To know more about this hotel and to know its status of accommodation availability or to avail the online booking facility, just click HERE.

Hotel Jaisalgarh

The landmark hotel is situated on Ramgarh Bypass on Jodhpur-Jaisalmer National Highway No. 15, on a sprawling plot of 5100 sq. meters. Designed like a castle in the sandy terrain of Jaisalmer, Hotel Jaisalgarh affords a grand view of Jaisalmer Fort. Considered as one of the best Budget Hotels of Jaisalmer, it is a treasure trove of architectural features of Rajasthan style. With Jharokhas (carved balconies), sit-in chhatris (pavilion with domes) and jaalis (latticed screens), this perfect accommodation successfully creates an ambiance of bygone, opulent era.

For booking this majestic hotel, contact at : 0124 – 4055552, 2354546, 93106 56571. To know more about this hotel and to know its status of accommodation availability or to avail the online booking facility, just click HERE.

Hotel Moonlight

It is a newly constructed hotel with all large deluxe rooms built in the traditional architectural style giving it a regal look with modern amenities. It has beautiful Charkhas, Gokharas, Tibaris and Fountains, that are characteristic feature of Rajasthani form of architecture. Hotel Moon Light currently has 11 beautifully appointed air conditioned rooms, all of which are very spacious and well furnished.

For booking this hotel, contact at : 02992 – 250267, 254359, 9829939999, 9414149594. To know more about this hotel and to know its status of accommodation availability or to avail the online booking facility, just click HERE.

Hotel Jaisal Palace

Situated in the heart of the city just behind the Palace of Maharaja of Jaisalmer, this is one of the best budget accommodation of the city. Presently the hotel has 4 beautifully appointed air conditioned rooms and 10 non AC room. All the rooms are well furnished and have balconies which offers excellent view of the fort and Maharaja palace from the rooms. For booking this budget hotel, contact at : 02992 – 252717, 251417, 9829939999, 9414149594.

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About the Author: Hi! friends, travelling is my passion and my only hobby. High mountains to deep seas, lush green forests to barren deserts, holy places to sites of historical importance, - every beautiful place attracts me the same way. I want everyone to feel the same and so through my writing I intend to take you all to a virtual trip to all those lovely places that I have visited.

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