Today a remote army post in the Thar Desert and a tourist hot spot , Jaisalmer was founded in 12th century by Maharawal Jaisal and was a flourishing trade centre strategically located on the trade rote of Afganisthan- India- Central Asia. The wealthy traders and rulers vied with each other to beautify the austere desert surroundings with splendid golden coloured palaces and havelis. Mostly made of local golden -yellow sandstone , these till date are the most spectacular examples of Rajasthani stonemason’s art.
Main Attractions of ”Golden City” Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer Fort rises like a spectacular mirage out out of the sand of the Thar with 99 awesome turrets. Built in 1156 AD this palace stands on the peak of the 80 m high Trikuta Hills. During earlier times the entire population lived within this fort and even today thousands of people live here making it India’s only living fort. Royal palaces, hotels, shops and temples all the there within the walls of this magnificent fort.
The havelis of Patwon , Nathmalji and Salim Singh are the most famed and must see havelis here. These havels boast of some of finest architecture with their golden stone facades so finely craved that it seems to be made of lace. The opulence and the architecture these monuments add enormous value to the cultural heritage of Jaisalmer.
Gadisagar Lake here is a rainwater reservoir built in 1367 and was once the only source of water for the whole city. Lined with ghats and temples this place come alive during Gangaur festival.
Jaisalmer is best explored on a camel safari. There are few hours to two day safaris that take you to the historic sights and the villages of sheep and camel herders. Overnight stays in middle of desert at tents will make you witness the most magical dawns and sunsets.
Sam Sand Dunes are the best location for a desert safari on a camel with rippling sand dunes that stretch on all sides as far as the eyes can see. You can take a camel or a jeep safari here.
Another interesting place here is Bada Bagh situated 7 kms away from the main city. Its an area huge with cenotaphs of the royal families from the 16th century to 20th century. Its beautiful and intricate architecture is sure to make remember you camera.
One of the largest national park of India , The Desert National Park near Jaisalmer is spread over 3,162 sq kms of sandy and scrubby wasteland. Its greatest attraction is the Great Indian Bustard, a large bird that is 4ft tall. Visit this park on a jeep safari to enjoy the arid landscape and exotic flaura and fauna.
One of the least explored sites near Jaisalmer , is Kuldhara, the haunted villages of India. Dating back to 13th century the lore goes that all the villagers of this beautiful village just vanished overnight. Locals still consider this place cursed and no one ever stays here. But the houses and the temples with fabulous architecture are worth exploring.
Plan a tour to this exotic and most unusual desert town this winters, as the best time to visit Jaisalmer is from mid October to March, and you will surely not regret it.
Stay and Food
There are many resorts, heritage hotels, budget hotels and even desert camps that offer a comfortable and luxurious stay in Jaisalmer.
As for food you can get the best of Indian, continental, Chinese ot Italian food here but do not forget to try the local Rajasthani delicacies like Dal-Batti-Curma, ker sangri , murgh-e-subz, or lal maas.
Jaisalmer does not have any airport . The nearest airport is Jodhpur Airportat a distance of around 275 kilometers. Jaisalmer is well connected with many cities like Delhi and Jaipur through railways. The ‘Palace on Wheels’ also stops at Jaisalmer. Jaisalmer has a good road connectivity from many cities of Rajasthan and Gujarat.