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Jaisalmer

  • (worth a trip)
  • 3-5 km
  • Easy
  • Average
  • 2-3 days
  • 3 3

The "Golden City" of India andsituated amidst Thar Desert

Jaisalmer, Rajasthan India
Rajasthani local food is the show stopper no matter where you go in Rajasthan. Some of the must try dishes while in the city include 'daal baati churma', 'pyaj kachori', 'bajre ki roti', and 'garlic chutney'. If you prefer non-vegetarian delicacies, then you cannot miss relishing 'lal maans' (meat cooked in red chillies’ curry), 'khad khargosh' (wild hare cooked and roasted underground), and 'safed maans' (meat cooked in curd). If you have a sweet tooth, then enjoy a piece of 'dil kushal', 'ghewar', and 'Churma Ladoo'. Chandan Shree Restaurant (near Hanuman Circle) is a very popular choice amongst locals and offers delicious South Indian breakfasts. Saffron is another popular open-air restaurant located on the rooftop of Hotel Nachana Haveli which makes for a very romantic dinner with its candle-lit tables, an overlooking fountain courtyard, and amazing food.
If you are arriving in Jaisalmer via bus from a nearby city such as Jodhpur, be aware of the touts that swarm the bus terminal area as soon as you arrive in Jaisalmer. They try to lure you with unimaginable room rates (INR100 or so) however, it's all a part of the camel safari game where the room rates surprisingly tend to go up or double in case if you refuse the safari. They may as well tell you that the rooms are sold out. Also, if you haven't made a prior booking, at least have an idea of where you want to go, otherwise the touts may offer you cheap rooms in major localities and take you to hotels where they get a commission off of the room rate that you pay. You also may find touts and autorickshaw drivers telling you that the hotel you want to go to is closed, full, or not good, but don't believe them. It's just one of the many tricks that they have to get you to live in a hotel of their choice.
Jaisalmer fits all type of tourists - budget as well as affluent. The city houses sleeping options ranging from INR200 (Dylan Café and Guesthouse) for budget guesthouses to INR11000 for a lavish accommodation option within Jaisalmer Fort. Likewise, the city has many dining options too. A regular meal at a not-so-fancy restaurant can cost anywhere between INR50-INR300. A glass of lassi at the famous Lassi’s Shop (most-famous bhang-lassi shop in the city and perhaps in the country) can cost anywhere between INR25-60 (for simple lassi) and INR20-120 for bhang mixed lassi. Jaisalmer is also famous for bedspreads, oil lamps, embroideries, wall hangings made of beautiful mirror-work, and antiques. Jaisalmer Handloom (Court Road) has a wide variety of handloom products such as bedspreads, apparels, tapestries, and other such items. Desert Handicrafts Emporium is one of the most interesting shops in the city with its fascinating collection of jewelry, textiles and other such products.

Jaisalmer is a popular tourist city located in the west of Rajasthan. It is often known as the “Golden City” of India due to the golden sands of the Thar Desert which encompasses the majority of the city and the yellowish sandstone which is used in almost all the architectures of the city, including the famous Jaisalmer Fort. It is also a World Heritage Site. The city was named after its founder, Maharawal Jaisal Singh, a Rajput king who founded the city and forstrss in 1156 A.D. Jaisalmer literally means “the Hill Fort of Jaisal”. The district of Jaisalmer is the largest in the state of Rajasthan and also one of the largest districts of its kind in the country. Tourism is the main source of economy for the inhabitants of this city along with its many cultural music and dance performers who are famous worldwide for their folk performances.

 

The best time to visit the city of Jaisalmer is during the Desert Festival which is celebrated all over the city with much galore and glamour over a period of three days in the month of January or February. Numerous cultural activities including folk dance and music performances, camel races, snake charmers, camel polo, turban-tying contests and the most famous Mr. Desert competition is held during this festival. Attendees from all over the country and worldwide attend this magnificent festival. Pre-book your accommodation arrangements during the carnival as prices tend to be higher than normal and the city is more crowded as well so showing up and finding a hotel could be a little problematic. However, if you prefer your vacations to be quieter, you can also visit the city in the month of January to March (except the Desert festival dates) and October to December.

 

Apart from the lifelike Desert Festival, Jaisalmer is also known for its various forts, palaces, and museums. Some of the most famous ones include:

  1. Jaisalmer Fort – Perched atop Trikuta Hills, Jaisalmer Fort, founded by Rawal Jaisal Singh (founder of Jaisalmer) in 1156 A.D., is also known as “Sonar Quila” (Fort of Gold) and is one of the largest forts of its kind in the world. The fort stands firmly in between the Thar Desert and claims witness to many battles since its construction. The fort was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with five other forts of Rajasthan, in 2013, at the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). The fort comprises three layers of walls. The lowest wall or layer is made out of solid stone blocks and it supports the loose concrete of Trikuta Hill. The middle one wraps around the fort like a snake. The innermost or the final layer of wall is where the Rajput soldiers once threw boiling hot oil and water at their enemies along with large rock boulders. The fort has a total of 99 bastions, of which, 92 were constructed between 1633-47. The entrance to the fort is from its east gate which leads you to four gigantic gates. Through the fourth gate, you step into Dashera Chowk, which is the living section of the fort where approximately 3000 inhabitants reside. It is also the area where you would find a large number of guesthouses, handicraft shops, restaurants, and beauty salons. Jaisalmer Fort has been a part of many movies, novels, and Hindi sitcoms. One of the most famous detective novels later a movie is Sonar Quila which was written by the famous ace director-writer Satyajit Ray. The fort has been through major threatening near-death issues over the years such as water seepage, seismic activity, inadequate civic amenities, and derelict houses. However, considering it’s important to the tourism industry and to the state of Rajasthan, the government has taken many restoration initiatives and now keeps a close eye on the fort.
  2. Fort Palace – Within the walls of Jaisalmer Fort, partly built over the fort’s fourth gate Hawa Pol, is the seven storey palace of the former ruler. Entrance to the fort is INR50 for Indians and INR300 for others which include a compulsory audio guide. You can bring your camera and video equipments for an additional fee of INR100 and INR200, respectively. The palace timings are 08:00 A.M. to 06:00 P.M between April and October and 09:00 A.M. to 06:00 P.M. during November to March. The audio tour highlights consists of a tour of rang Mahal (a mirrored and painted bedroom of ruler Mulraj II from the 18th century), a gallery full of 15th century sculptures, a room full of stamps from all former Rajput states, and a 360 degree panoramic view from the rooftop.
  3. Patwa Ki Haveli – The biggest and the most famous amongst the havelis (palaces) in the city is the Patwa ki Haveli which is located down a narrow alley near the Patwa complex. The two factors that makes this haveli so famous and interesting is, that, first, it was the first haveli to be built in the district of Jaisalmer, and second, that it is not actually one haveli but a cluster of five havelis which were built by Guman Chand Patwa, a very affluent trader of the time, for his five sons. The first haveli to be built was constructed in 1805 and is the most elaborate and the most ostentatious of the bunch. The haveli is not owned by the government and the palace also houses the offices of the Archeological Survey of India and State art and craft department. Like every other monument and building in the city, the haveli is also built out of yellow sandstone; however, the entrance to the haveli is surprisingly brown in color. The entrance to the haveli is INR20 for Indians and INR50 for foreigners and it is open from 10:00 A.M till 05:00 P.M. It is important to note here, the first of the five havelis is now privately owned by the family of Kothari’s and is known as Kothari’s Patwa ki Haveli. As per legends, the original owner and his sons abandoned the havelis and left the city when their business started going down and left the property to the caretakers. It is then that the caretaker of the first haveli approached Mr. Jeevanlalji Kothari, a native of Jaisalmer, to buy the first haveli. It has now ben transformed into a museum that showcases exclusive handicrafts, textiles, and furnishing from the patwas, and also has a shop that sells authentic Rajasthani products. There is also a separate entrance fee for the museum which is INR50 for Indians and INR150 for camera others plus INR50 and 70 for cameras and videos, respectively. While at Patwa ki haveli, keep an eye for the intricate architecture, interesting miniatures, and elaborate balconies.
  4. Desert Cultural Centre and Museum – Located next to the Tourist Information Centre, Desert Cultural Centre and Museum is for all the history buffs that are keen on exploring the ancient history, culture, and customs of Jaisalmer. You can see rare coins and collections from not only early Jaisalmer but also from the state of Rajasthan. The museum also has a rare and interesting collection of Rajasthani textiles, handicrafts, weaponries, utensils, and musical instruments. One of the most popular items on display at the museum is karal the traditional mixing box used for mixing opium. The timings for the museum are 09:00 Am to 08:00 Pm. There are two puppet shows which are organized at 06:30 P.M and 07:30 P.M. The entrance fee for the museum is INR20 for Indians and INR 50 for foreigners. The ticket price for the puppet show is INR30 for Indians and INR50 for foreigners. You can buy a combined ticket (museum plus puppet show) for a price of INR70. Taking a camera costs about INR20 and video costs about INR50.

 

There are also a few important tourist spots a few kilometers away from Jaisalmer such as the Gadsisar Lake, Bada Bag, and of course the sand dunes. It is almost impossible and insensible to leave the beautiful city of Jaisalmer without indulging into a splendid camel ride experience through the vast expanses of the Thar Desert while in taking in the mesmerizing view of the sunset. There are plenty of camel safari organizers and the competition is cut throat but some of the most popular and trusted companies include Trotters, Thar Desert Tours, and Sahara Travels.



How to get there

Jaisalmer doesn't have its own airport and the nearest one is the Domestic airport of Jodhpur which ahs connecting flights from Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur and Udaipur. You can take a connecting bus from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer. There are bus services from other nearby cities as well such as Delhi, Ajmer, Jaipur, Pushkar, Bikaner, and Udaipur. Jaisalmer is connected to some of the above-mentioned cities such as Bikaner, Delhi, Jaipur and Jodhpur via the railways as well.

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