Located in the heart of the Rajasthan desert, Jaisalmer is a city famous for cobbled streets scattered with forts, palaces, havelis and temples.
Situated at the border of India and Pakistan, Jaisalmer is a sandy city that offers breathtaking views during sunrise and sunset. Often referred to as the 'Museum City', even the houses in Jaisalmer are extensions of the wonderful architecture that the city boasts of. Dating back to the 12th century, most of the houses are exquisitely carved and have filigree work all over.
Jaisalmer is also described as the golden city owing to its strategic location as a trading center. The merchants of the 19th century built havelis that were exquisitely carved from golden-yellow sandstone and are in good condition even today.
Its forts, havelis, gardens, temples, fairs and festivals are a tourist's delight. Check out these spots:
The Jaisalmer Fort blends perfectly with the golden hues of the desert and it looks breathtaking during sunset. The fort was built in the 12th century, and has four approach gateways and several entrances. The main market place in Jaisalmer, the Manak Chowk, is located outside the fort. Also known as the Sonar Quila or the Golden Fort, the fort has massive sandstone walls that turn into a magical golden color as the sun sets. Almost a quarter of the city's population still resides inside and the fort is often referred to as the living fort. The main attractions are the Royal Palace (the Raj Mahal), various Jain temples and the Laxminath temple.
Jaisalmer's havelis display intricate architecture and exquisite craftsmanship. Nathmalji ki Haveli was built in the late 19th century, and has splendid miniature paintings on its inside walls. Patwon ki Haveli is the largest and one of the most elaborate havelis in Jaisalmer. It has five floors with carved pillars and extensive corridors and chambers. Constructed around 300 years ago, Salim Singh ki Haveli was once the residence of the ministers of the Jaisalmer rulers. The striking feature of this haveli is its blue roof adorned with carved brackets in the form of peacocks.
The Sam Sand Dunes, situated around 40 kilometers away, are a must. These dunes stretch three kilometers and are very high. A photographer's delight, they offer a picturesque view especially when the wind creates ripples on them. Take a camel rides on the sand dunes for a thrilling experience.
The Desert Festival is an important event in Jaisalmer. Held in the months of January and February, the festival displays the glorious past and affluent culture of Rajasthan. Folk dances, camel rides and turban-tying competitions add pomp and gaiety to the event.
Manak Chowk is the popular shopping area in Jaisalmer. Look for embroidery, Rajasthani mirror work, rugs, blankets, antiques and old stone work. Other things to check out include tie-dye fabrics, camel-skin slippers, traditional shawls, etc.
How to reach
Jaisalmer is accessible by air, rail or road. The airport is located five kilometers from the city center and is managed by the Indian Air Force. One can also get to the Jodhpur airport (located 285 kilometers away) and travel by road to Jaisalmer. Daily trains are available to and from Jodhpur. Buses also ply to and from Jaisalmer with connections to all the major cities in Rajasthan.
Choose from luxurious five star hotels (heritage buildings and forts converted into hotels) or business hotels rated two or three star. Budget hotels are also available.
- The perfect time to visit the golden city is during the Desert Festival, held in January-February every year.
- Common modes of transport in Jaisalmer are the auto rickshaw and bicycles. This is the best way to get around the narrow lanes and by lanes in the city.