Jaisalmer – where the forts are still alive!
Shining sand dunes and royal turbans, graceful women in delicate veils and mirror-worked skirts, decorative camels and a fortress in shades of bright gold Jaisalmer in the desert state of Rajasthan where Arabian Nights fantasy come alive. Jaisalmer literally means ‘the Hill Fort of Jaisal’. The desert city is also called the Golden city thanks to the color it gets from the yellow sandstone used for the construction of the buildings.
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.
Be inspired by this list of must-see attractions and places to visit!
#1. Jaisalmer Fort and Fort Palace
One of the largest fortifications on the planet, Jaisalmer Fort is the only living fort in Rajasthan. Home to some 3,000 people, Jaisalmer Fort has within its walls houses and businesses, homestays and cafes and temples galore. In 2013, Jaisalmer Fort was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Jaisalmer is also known for the fairytale architecture of its magnificent historic havelis (mansions). Patwa Haveli is the city’s biggest and most important haveli. Built by five Jain brothers, it’s most impressive from the outside, with its breathtaking intricate stonework.
#3. Bada Bagh
It means ‘A Big Garden’. 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.
#4. Gadisar Lake
Gadisar Lake, is a huge artificial reservoir that was built by Maharawal Gadsi Singh in the 14th century. It provided the only water supply to the city until 1965. Today it’s the favoured place for paddle boats, watching migratory birds and catching wondrous views of the many golden hued temples and shrines that line its shores.
#5. Thar Heritage Museum
If you want to know more about the history and folklore of Jaisalmer, Thar Heritage Museum is the place. Traditional household items, rock-cut crockery, jewellery and statues from the 7th and 9th century AD displayed here are remnants of the city’s rich cultural heritage.
#6. Jaisalmer Camel Safaris
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. A camel safari will also give you the opportunity to witness the rustic, rural desert life of India.
#7. Jain Temples
One of the main attractions inside the Fort is a stunning series of seven interconnected Jain temples from the 15th and 16th centuries. The Parsvanath Temple dedicated to the 22nd Tirthankara with its ornate ceiling which has a sculpture of a demon-like head with four bodies arranged in a circle. As you walk around, the head seems to connect to each of the bodies.
#8. Desert National Park
Various species of animals such as blackbuck, chinkara and desert fox inhabit the Park. The highly endangered Great Indian Bustard, one of the world’s heaviest flying birds, can also be seen here. The museum presents you the history, culture, art and architecture of the famous Thar Desert.
#9. Nathmal Ki Haveli
One of the notable Jaisalmer attractions, Nathmalji-ki-Haveli primarily served as the residence of Diwan Mohata Nathmal who was the Prime Minister of the palace. There is a very interesting story regarding its construction. It is said that the two brothers started building different facets of havelis simultaneously. In those days there were no such instruments, which could keep a track on continuity and thus when this building came up finally it had the irregular shape. Other than these, there are pictures engraved on pillars and walls. It presents a harmonious blend of indigenous architectural styles of the Rajputs and Muslims.
#10. Salim Singh Ki Haveli
This haveli was built in the first half of the 18th century and a part of it is still occupied by descendants of the original residents. The high arched roof is supported by carved brackets designed in the shape of peacocks. Legend has it that there were two additional wooden storeys that made it match the Maharaja’s palace in height, but he ordered for the upper level to be demolished.
Considered haunted by locals, the historical village of Kuldhara, within 20 kilometers from the Golden City Jaisalmer, is a destination for tourists chasing thrill.
Kuldhara, maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, was abandoned over 200 years ago by the Paliwal-Brahmins following harassment by the erstwhile ‘diwan’ of Jaisalmer, Salim Singh.
Nobody knows where they went but it is believed that they settled near Jodhpur another city in western Rajasthan. Though nobody knows exactly how they did it, everybody in all of the 84 villages completely disappeared that very night.
#12. Tanot Mata Temple
Tannot Mata is a temple in the western State of Rajasthan in District Jaisalmer of India. Tannot Basically The village is close to the border with Pakistan and is very close to the battle site of Longewala of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, indeed some credit the temple for the outcome of the battle. Tourists cannot go beyond this temple to see the Indo–Pak Border.
#13. Jaisalmer War Museum
At a distance of 11 km from Jaisalmer Railway Station and 12 km from Jaisalmer Fort, Jaisalmer War Museum is situated at Military Station on the Jaisalmer – Jodhpur Highway. This unique war museum is surely a must visit place for all Indian and foreigner tourists coming to Jaisalmer. Jaisalmer War Museum was set up by the Indian Army to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of soldiers, specifically during the 1965 Indo-Pak War and the 1971 Longewala battle.
#14. Ramdevra Temple
Ramdevra temple is in a village situated about 12 km to the north of Pokhran in Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan in India. The uniqueness of Baba Ramdev Temple lies in the fact that people from both Hindu and Muslim faith come here to pay their respects to Saint Ramdevra. Hindus consider the Baba to be a reincarnation of Lord Krishna. For Muslims, he is a respected figure as the five Pirs from Mecca came to test his powers and went convinced of his divinity.
#15. Akal Wood Fossil Park
One has to go back 180 million years to understand the magnificence of the Wood Fossil Park in Akal. The park lies in Jaisalmer’s fossil belt and spreads over 21 hectares and is one of the natural wonders in India. It not only holds the remains of the prehistoric Jurassic era, but also there are around 25 numb trees, and some of the oldest fossils are about 200 years old.