Welcome to Jaisalmer
If geology interests you, then Jaisalmer is where you need to journey. The Wood Fossil Park or Aakal is located about 15 kilometres away from the city. Here, one can discover and trace geologic tragedies that occurred in the Thar Desert 180 million years ago. The city of Jaisalmer also acts as the guard to western Rajasthan (and India’s) frontier. This ‘Golden City’ is located close to the Pakistan border and in close proximity to the Thar Desert. The city’s most prominent landmark is the Jaisalmer Fort, also called Sonar Qila (Golden Fort). Unlike most other forts in India, Jaisalmer Fort is not just a tourist attraction. It houses shops, hotels and ancient havelis (homes) where generations continue to live.
Jaisalmer traces its inception to the 12th century. History tells us of Rawal Jaisal, the eldest heir of the Rawal of Deoraj, was passed over for the throne of Lodurva and a younger half-brother was crowned king. Rawal Jaisal went looking for a new location to set up his capital when he came across sage Eesul. The sage told him about Krishna’s prophecy which said that a descendant of his Yaduvanshi clan would found a new kingdom at this same spot. It was in 1156 that Rawal Jaisal constructed a mud fort, named it Jaisalmer after himself and declared it his capital.
Things to do in Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer is known for its magnificent havelis, golden sandy deserts and its mesmerizing lakes. But what you might not know is that there are innumerous thrilling things to do in Jaisalmer to turn your vacation into a memorable one. With a plethora of monuments, palaces, lakes and not to forget the mighty desert, there is no dearth of exciting things to do in Jaisalmer. From Dune Bashing to Paragliding, Desert Safaris and Camping, you will be overwhelmed by the number and variety of options and activities this place has to offer you. Besides these top things to do in Jaisalmer, you can also visit the majestic havelis, ride a boat, browse the markets and the like… the options are endless. Check from our elaborate list of things to do in Jaisalmer given below.
Jaisalmer Fort is famously known as Golden Fort of Rajasthan. It was constructed by Raja Jaisal, Rajput ruler in the year 1156 AD. It ranks amongst the largest forts in the world. The golden and yellow mixed sandstone offer magical look to the Fort. Rising from the desert sands like a mirage, the fort is a real sight with its 99 turrets during night. The Fort stands tall and proud displaying the magic of Rajasthani architecture.
Bada Bagh means ‘Huge Garden’. Maharawal Jait Singh’s period saw its construction, which was in the beginning of 16th century. His son Lunakaran completed the construction after the death of his father. The garden served as a memorial where the nobles and their families were cremated. The garden offers a stunning view. The place is isolated. If you visit the place during sunrise and sunset, you are guaranteed of beautiful moments, which you cannot avoid clicking.
Patwon-Ki-Haveli is located in the main city. It was built by a famous trader named Guman Chand and his sons. This massive five-storied construction has five intricately decorated huge suites. The large corridors and the decorated walls are excellent representations of the art form that prevailed. The entire construction is made of yellow sandstone. The grandeur and the architecture of the monument add immense value to the cultural heritage of the city. Out of the five havelis, one is converted into a museum. The third haveli houses the works of local craftsmen of the bygone era.
To have a feel of the desert, you need to undertake Desert Safari. Sam Sand Dunes is the ideal location to set off for the Desert Safari. You will love the safari on camelback that would take you along crests and troughs and you could watch the picturesque sunset on the desert. Jeep safaris are available as well. Desert festival is organized in the months of February and March. If you are around this time, you would not want to miss the folk dances, camel races and other cultural events conducted here.
Gadisar Lake is located a kilometer away from the fort. It was constructed by the first ruler of the land, Raja Rawal Jaisal and later reconstructed by Maharawal Garsi in the year 1367 AD. The people of the desert city depended on this tank for their water needs. You will find temples, Holy shrines and Chattris around the banks of this lake. The artistically carved entrance made of yellow sandstone offers breathtaking view.
Nathmal Ki Haveli was built by two Muslim jeweller brothers not stone carvers on the order of the then prime minister. The brothers started working on the opposite sides of the building which lead to a similar but non-identical left and right side. Apart from its extraordinary outer carvings, this haveli is known for its beautiful interiors filled with paintings and equipped with modern facilities. An amalgamation of Islamic and Rajputana architecture, Nathmal Ki Haveli is well justified as being one of the most beautiful haveli in Jaisalmer.
Located inside Jaisalmer Fort, Jain temples are a series of temples dedicated to Jain Tirthankaras and can be traced back to the 12th century. The temples are are known for their distinctive architectural style modelled after the Dilwara temple of Mt. Abu. Beautifully carved and well interconnected, these temples are a vision to behold and are completely made up of yellow sandstone.
Among all the havelis in Jaisalmer, Salim Singh Ki Haveli is known for its distinctive and eye catching architecture. It was built by the then minister, Salim Singh who wanted to make as high as the fort but was prohibited by the king. It has 38 balconies with their own distinctive style of architecture and a peacock-shaped roof. This haveli provides a good glimpse in the past and the photographs taken here would be awe inspiring.
An abandoned ghost town, Kuldhara was once a prosperous town occupied by Paliwal Brahmins. The reasons for why a whole city was abandoned within a night is not clear but the popular belief holds the then state minister Salim Singh responsible for the same. The minister wanted to marry the village chief’s daughter and therefore delivered an ultimatum to the village chief to accept his demands or let the whole community face dire consequences. Rather than giving in to the minister’s demands, the whole village decided to move away. Before leaving, they cursed this place to never have any kind of human settlement and this has been proven true to this date. Visit Kuldhara to get a glimpse of the past and get spooked by its tales.