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Jaisalmer

The sun seems like the holy red dot on the forehead of the sky, as it descends beyond the sand dunes turning the whole sky into a riot of colours and the city of Jaisalmer turns in for the day. There is a magical aura and serenity fused with traditions, culture, music, food and wilderness. A majestic fort, a multitude of temples, Havelis, a national park and very hospitable local people make it a dream destination for any traveller.

Sitting in the sand watching the dunes fade with the setting sun and the traditional ballads of love, valour and tragedy playing in the background, the time seems to stand still in the Sam sand dunes of Jaisalmer. It is hard not to fall in love with the haunting beauty of the Desert and its wilderness. The night brings a cool breeze and a star lit sky and nothing to disturb the meditative gaze into the sky. One is transported to the time when traders used caravans to cross treacherous desert routes and rested for the night in the middle of the desert.  To experience the desert and its life in true colours, visit Jaisalmer the land of the Golden Fort, the Golden Desert and elegant Havelis. The name Jaisalmer (Jaisal and Meru) literally means "Fort of King Jaisa on the hill".  Jaisalmer is known as the "Golden City" because of its impressive yellow fort and many yellow sandstone buildings. 

Jaisalmer is on the western boundary of India separated from Pakistan by the Thar Desert. The city was built when the warrior clans or Rajputs were pushed out from Punjab towards the south and Rawal Jaisal founded the fort and city of Jaisalmer in the 11th Century. The city is full of history and tradition, folk music and dance, medieval architecture and temples.

 

Tragedy of Jauhar:

Jaisalmer was founded by Rawal Jaisal of the Bhatti Rajputs in 1156. The town has been witness to many tragedies when Jauhar or self immolation was initiated to avoid subjugation by Muslim invaders - first in 1315 when Allauddin Khilji vanquished Jaisalmer and then again in 1325 under Feroz Shah Tughluq.

However the most tragic incident happened when Amir Ali, a Pathan from Afghanistan tried to attack the fort by entering Jaisalmer in disguise. Due to the sudden attack, the Rajputs were on the verge of defeat in the fight and there was no time to light a fire for Jauhar, so the Maharaja Maharawal Lunakaran decided to cut off the heads of the women with his own hands. Ironically soon afterwards, other Rajput warriors entered and recaptured the fort.

  

The Sonar Quila or the Golden Fort

 

Standing tall over the city on top of a hill, the Golden Fort is the main landmark of Jaisalmer. Built of yellow sandstone this majestic and historical structure used to house the entire population of Jaisalmer; it probably is the only remaining fort which is a living fort. It served traders as a resting place in the desert and protected them against enemies. Due to the yellow sandstone and hues of the desert in the background, it looks golden in the sun - hence its name Sobriquet. Despite the grandeur, enigma and royalty of the fort during the day, the fort's atmosphere in a moon lit night brings out many romantics to marvel at its splendour. For the architecturally inclined, it is a melange of Rajput and Mughal architecture and the carvings and paintings are marvellous.

 

Camel Safaris

One of the highlights of coming to Jaisalmer is to go on a camel safari in the desert. A Camel safari into the Thar desert with kilometers of sand in all the direction is an overwhelming experience, which shows the beauty and difficulty of desert life. It is an amazing way to explore the desert, stargazing around a campfire at night, staying in tented accommodation and just relaxing. Most camel safaris go to the beautiful Sam Sand Dunes, stopping at villages and sites along the way. 

  

Desert National Park

 

Desert National Park gives a good glimpse of the Thar Desert and its Fauna. Common animals to be found are Black Buck, Chinkara, Wolf, Bengal Fox, and Desert Cat. The Avian fauna includes the Great Indian Bustard, Snadgrouse, Patridges, and Larks as endemic birds while Demoiselle Crane and Hobard arrive in winter as migratory birds. The Sudashri forest post is the most ideal place for observing wildlife in the park.

 

Temples and Havelis

 

For those who want to visit the exquisite and ornate temples and Havelis, there are plenty around the town. Miniature paintings, carved stones and grand architecture epitomises the Havelis which are now owned and run for tourism and have craft shops inside. Many palaces and Havelis are now turned into hotels and provide a glimpse into a maharaja's life travelling through time. The Jain temples around Jaisalmer are equally famous for pilgrimage and architecture.

 

 

Besides all its history, architecture and sand dunes, the city is also very enjoyable wonderful, rich culture, traditional colourful clothes and hospitality. Since tourism is the main industry, it's not uncommon to find a great number of hotels and people who work as tour guides for Desert safaris.

Jaisalmer Fort
Jaisalmer Fort: It is also known as Sonar Quilla or the Golden Fort due to its golden hue from the desert ambience and the yellow sand stone; it is bound to be the most remarkable structure in the city. Built in 1156, it is nearly 800 years old. 250Ft tall and reinforced by a 30 foot high sandstone wall, it has 99 bastions which were built between 1633 and 1647. The fort contains a series of lanes packed with old houses, Havelis and temples, a fascinating place to wander around. The entrance
Sam Dunes
The best way to enjoy the Sam Sand Dunes of Jaisalmer is through an overnight trip. One of the most pleasurable moments comes at sunset. Watching the sand dunes in the faint orange glow of the sun with the ballads of the legendary lovers playing in the background leaves you completely speechless. The night is spent sleeping in the open under the cover of a star-studded sky. This is the closest place from where you can lose yourself in "the Great Thar Desert". Sam has a truly magnificent stretch
Desert National Park
Desert National Park gives a good glimpse of the Thar Desert and its Fauna. Common animals to be found are Black Buck, Chinkara, Wolf, Bengal Fox, and Desert Cat. The Avian fauna includes the Great Indian Bustard, Sandgrouse, Patridges, and Larks as endemic birds, while Demoiselle Crane and Hobard arrive in winter as migratory birds. The Sudashri forest post is the most ideal place to observe wildlife in the park.
Gadi Sagar Lake
Gadi Sagar Lake is an artificial lake built around the same time as the Fort as a reservoir of water for the whole town. Surprisingly it never went dry and served as oasis for travellers and people living there. Now there are temples built alongside the perimeter of the lake.
Patwon Ji ki Havali and Salim Singh ki Haveli
Patwon Ji ki Havali and Salim Singh ki Haveli are very famous for their architecture, miniature paintings and carvings and are situated in the heart of the town in narrow lanes. One of the outstanding Havelis in the entire Rajasthan it is a epitome to the grandeur of another era in history - images of this history are vividly displayed in the architecture and intricate decorations of the rooms that provide a glimpse of the luxury of the ruling class life.
Kuldhara Village ruins
18 km west of Jaisalmer is the village of Kuldhara, which holds the remains of a historic village that was once inhabited by Paliwal Brahmins. In a unique mode of protest to oppose imposition of unreasonable taxes on them by the king, all the residents of Kuldhara and 83 nearby villages left suddenly one night in 1825 and never came back. The deserted ruins of Kuldhara village is strewn with temples, step-wells and other structures, which quite well preserved through active restoration work und
Handicrafts from the Rajasthani Desert tribes are sold in shops all over the place, especially inside the Havelis. They make for perfect souvenirs.

Desert Festival:

This festival is held over three days in January/February every year. This is the best time to visit Jaisalmer to witness performing arts like Kalbelia dances, folk songs and music, as well as various competitions like turban tying, camel races and the longest moustache. The festival is kelidoscope of traditional music, colour and revelry, as performers from all parts of Rajasthan descend on the small desert town to celebrate.

Nearby places Train stations Airports
JODHPUR 273 Km 04H 12m
Jaisalmer 2 Km 00H 04m
Nearby major cities
Name Distance Duration
33 Km 00H 38m
171 Km 02H 12m
262 Km 04H 04m
329 Km 04H 15m
33 Km 00H 38m
171 Km 02H 12m
Khichan is a small village which has a unique practice of feeding Demoiselle Cranes which arrive here in huge numbers during winter months. These cranes make one of the toughest migrations in the world by crossing the Himalayas to arrive at Khichan.
262 Km 04H 04m
Strewn with forts and palaces that date back to the 15th century, Jodhpur was the capital of the princely state of Marwar where the Rathor clan ruled. On top of a hill, at the edge of the town, looms the Mehrangarh Fort, giving it a touch of medieval majesty. Jodhpur is also home to the Bishnoi Tribals, the fierce custodians of nature.
329 Km 04H 15m
Amidst the majestic sand dunes of the Thar desert lies the endearing city of Bikaner. It is the third city of the captivating desert triangle, completed by Jaisalmer and Jodhpur. Supporting its description as the “camel country”, the city is distinguished for the best riding camels in the world and hence boasts of having one of the largest Camel Research and Breeding farms in the world.
570 Km 08H 14m
Holding the grand legacy of a royal past, Jaipur is an integral part of the world famous Golden Triangle alongside Delhi and Agra. The famous Pink City of Rajasthan is a vibrant collage of grand palaces, desert culture and a rich history of Rajputana.
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Weather
Season Min. Temp. Max. Temp.
Summer 25 °C 45 °C
Winter 6 °C 26 °C
Very hot in Summer with the mercury shooting up to 45°C at times. Starting from pre Winter months till the Summer arrives (October - March ) is the best time to visit.
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