The Golden City of India, Jaisalmer in Rajasthan is a delight to anyone who wishes to explore the rich and diverse heritage and culture of our nation.
ocated close to the capital city of Jaipur on a large elevated ridge of yellow sandstone, this small township is crowned by the famous Jaisalmer Fort and also contains various temples, museums and other structures that give the entire city the vibration of having grown around the Rajasthani culture and traditions. The city was named after its founder, Maharawal Jaisal Singh, who established the city in 1156 AD.
The city of Jaisalmer is well connected by all means of transportation. The nearest airport is the Jodhpur Airport, and the Jaisalmer airport is currently under construction. The railways connect Jaisalmer to all major cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Varanasi, Lucknow and Jaipur. Jaisalmer lies on the National Highway 15 and is thus well connected to cities of Rajasthan and the rest of India including Delhi, Mumbai etc. by roads. Luxury as well as state bus services are available.
Jaisalmer is located in Thar Desert and thus faces severe heat during summers. The winter months of November to March are thus the best time to visit Jaisalmer. The Desert Festival takes place in Jaisalmer in the months of January or February.
1. Jaisalmer Fort
Built in the 12th century by King Rawal Jaisal, the Jaisalmer Fort is one of the largest existing ancient fortifications in the world. It stands on the Trikuta Hill in the middle of the mighty Thar Desert. This Fort is built in yellow sandstone, which gives it its brightness in the middle and a mellow golden glow in the evening as the sun sets, thus lending it its nickname Sonar Quila (the Golden Fort). The ingenuity of the Fort as a military is demonstrated by the sheer number of battles and refugees it has seen over time, including those during the Mughal and British rule, and even later during the Partition of India. Today, the Fort is a popular tourist destination, and has many facilities that cater to tourists.
2. Bada Bagh
A tribute to the warrior clan of the Rajput, the Bada Bagh is a gigantic garden complex on the outskirts of Jaisalmer. Originally meant as a dam to enrich the dry desert, this area was turned into a beautiful garden by Lunkaran Singh in the 18th century. In honour of the battle tradition of the Rajputs, many cenotaphs or chhattris of Rajput rulers are present here. The first cenotaph was dedicated to Jai Singh II and the last one, which is still incomplete, was for Jawahar Singh.
3. Kuldhara Village
One of the many unexplained mysteries of India, Kuldhara Village is a deserted village 17 km away from Jaisalmer city which is also rumoured to be haunted. Visitors are advised against visiting it after dark. The legend says that in the 18th century, the Paliwal Brahmins lived here. However, the tyrannical ruler of the state Salim Singh made living conditions unbearable in the state and even desired their Chief’s daughter, due to which the residents performed an overnight exodus out of their homeland. They left a curse on the land, which made it forever uninhabitable. Visitors have reported haunting phenomenon such as whispers and feelings of unease.
4. Salim Singh Ki Haveli
One of the grandest havelis standing today, Salim Singh Ki Haveli is located in the heart of Jaisalmer. Named after and built by the formidable 17th century Prime Minister Salim Singh, the haveli has been built in the traditional Rajasthani style with many balconies and a roof that is fashioned after a peacock. Intricate designs and the glow of the yellow sandstone complete the beauty of the structure.
5. Patwon Ki Haveli
One of the largest havelis in India and the first to have been built in Jaisalmer, the Patwon Ki Haveli immediately draws your attention to the sheer magnitude of it as well as the beauty of the intricate architecture and art all around the walls, balconies, gateways etc. against the backdrop of yellow sandstone. The haveli is actually a cluster of five small havelis and was first built in the 18th century by wealthy banker and merchant Guman Chand Patwa and was added upon by his sons over the next 50 years.
6. Thar Heritage Museum
This museum gives one a fascinating insight into the lives and times of the Rajputs, especially the rulers as well as people of Jaisalmer. It’s founder, Laxmi Narayan Khatri will take you through a guided tour of the museum, showing you interesting artefacts of the Rajputs that include weapons, ornaments, , transport equipment, coins, documents and manuscripts, musical instruments, games and even displays on marriage, death and opium customs. The main attraction, however, are the sea fossils that have given archaeologists information as to the formation of the Thar Desert itself.
7. Gadisar Lake
On the outskirts of the hustle and bustle of the city of Jaisalmer, one can find peace and tranquillity at the Gadsisar Lake. This is an artificial rainwater conservation lake built in the 14th century by Maharaja Gadsi Singh. Due to its proximity to Bharatpur, this area attracts a large number of migratory birds during the winter months. Various temples have also been built over time around the perimeter of the lake.
Jaisalmer is a city bathed in a soft yellow glow, which much history and many stories to tell. Many can visit it just to get a feel of a city that has stood the test of time.