Desert – Jaisalmer

Why To Go

Jaisalmer, a district town at the heart of the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, represents all that is opposite to what the word ‘desert’ suggests- isolated, forsaken, dull and boring. Jaisalmer is the land of hospitable people- colourful ghagra clad women and moustached men in vivid turbans. Most of the city’s architecture is made of yellow sandstone which glistens as gold in the sun, and therefore Jaisalmer is called, ‘The Golden City’. Well, the iconic Jaisalmer Fort is called, ‘Sonar Kella’, after the famous movie by Satyajit Ray. Not a single moment is boring in the hustle and bustle of the fort city, with street side shopkeepers calling you in for a bargain. You can’t miss buying souvenirs, mostly fabrics with tie and die, jewellery and handicrafts using wood, stones, glass, mirrors, silver, camel leather as they are so bright. There are folk musicians here and there, singing and playing local indigenous musical instruments and/or even dancing. They may even instantly compose and sing a song for you with your name in it. Do not forget to tip them. You will be allured by women who would paint amazing designs with mehendi on your palm.You can see camels here and there inside the city.

Jaisalmer is situated in the extreme west of Rajasthan and it is hugged on the West and South West by Pakistani borders. It is 550kms away from Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan and 800kms from New Delhi, the capital of India. Jaisalmer district is the largest district of Rajasthan and the third largest in India, in terms of territorial region. Jaisalmer was formed by the Bhati Rajput ruler in 1156AD.

Jaisalmer is famous for its regal city tour comprising of architectural gems like the magnificent fort, havelis and Jain temples and a lake. This is the cultural and heritage part of the city.Jaisalmer also boasts of providing the offbeat desert experiences with dune bashing and camel safari which reveals more of the adventurous side of the city.

Travel Tips

Jaisalmer is extremely arid. Summers are scorching and should be avoided for travelling as temperatures may rise even above 50 degrees Celsius at times. October to March is the best time to visit Jaisalmer. Winter temperatures are 7-9 degrees Celsius, at times temperatures going sub-zero too. Carry and drink enough water. Keep yourself hydrated. Carry sunscreen, sunglasses, caps, hats or scarves. Wear light cotton clothing. If you visit in December and/or January please carry warm clothes. There is scarcity of water in the desert region and so please be careful enough not to waste. Jaisalmer Desert Festival in the month of February is the major festival in Jaisalmer which attracts people from all over the world. Besides World famous Rajasthani folk music, ghoomar, gair and fire dancers, there are events like camel racing, turban tying and Mr. Desert contest which includes tug of war and the longest moustache competitions. The kalbelia dancers with their dazzling attire and jewellery will steal the show. This festival is all about the extravaganza and fun.

Things To Do

The Jaisalmer Fort (Sonar Kella) is a majesticyellow sand stone fort or castle built on a 250 feet high sprawling hill top citadel buttressed by 99 bastions with three ringed defence system and thirty feet high walls. Behind those massive walls is a city with in a city spread across 5 square Kilometres, with Maharaja’s palace- Rajmahal, now converted into a museum, seven Jain temples, houses, souvenir shops, shops selling and exhibiting puppet shows, handicrafts, jewellery and fabric stores with colourful displays and even restaurants. It is the oldest living fort in India. Soak into the ambiance as you enter through the first gate at Gopa Chowk, onto the winding stone-paved alley with massive stone towers all around. After passing through the Hawaprol, the last ofthe gates, you reach the central square,Dussehra Chowk, below the Rajmahal, from where the lanes with touristy shops and restaurants wind up in different directions inside the fort. The Rajmahalis a seven storey palace with intricate stone carvings and it was the palace of the rulers, now converted to the Jaisalmer Fort Palace Museum and Heritage Centre. Do climb to the roof top, the highest point in the vicinity to have a bird’s eye view of the area. Do not miss the roof top restaurant too for a splendid view and good food. Out of the seven Jain Temples, the Parsvanath Temple, dedicated to the 23rd Tirthankara, is the largest and the most impressive with the marvellous art work and stone carvings of Dilwara style. Do not miss the ceiling of the temple. Chandraprabhu Temple is the first temple that you have to enter and the rest are Rishabdev temple, Shitalnath Temple, Kunthanath Temple, and Shantinath Temple.These temples also store numerous rare and ancient manuscripts. Patwon-ki-Haveli, an ornate residence built by five merchant brothers in the early 19th Century is the largest haveli. It is grand and comprises of five buildings, built of yellow sand stone, adorned with elaborate façade and intricate jails. Some of the rooms still have the remnants of exquisite paintings on their walls. The Nathmal-ki-Haveli, famous for its exquisite detailing in curving and architecture, is very close to Patwonki Haveli. Another beautiful haveli is Salim Sing-ki-Haveli with noticeable upper storeys and their balconies which appear like an impressive pavilion floating on the building. Gadisar Lake, an artificial lake built in 14th Century to serve as a water tank, is a beautiful breezy spot where you can enjoy boating in the lake with the splendid view of the mighty Fort, glistening in the sun. The lake is surrounded by different small temples and shrines. There are a few even standing on the lake. Sunrise and/or sunset from here looks gorgeous. BadaBagh is renowned for the architecture and historical significance. It is a garden amidst the arid lands with royal cenotaphs in the centre. It was a crematoria of the Regal Rajput Maharajas. Jaisalmer is meant for an offbeat desert experience which is out of the world. Visit the Sam Sand dunes (42kms from Jaisalmer)and/orKhuri(40kms from Jaisalmer). From the base of the dunes a bumpy camel ride takes you to the dunes. The splendour of observing the vast expanse of the desert sands at the dunes is amazing. At the base of the dunes you can indulge in parasailing and quad biking. Staying in the comfortable tents at Sam or thatched mud huts in Khuriand spending the evening star gazing with bon fire, folk music and dance is an experience of a life time. The dunes in Khuri are even higher than that of Sam. At Khuri do hike around the village and the see the beautiful mandana art(paintngs of birds, animals and flowers using lime paste and mud) on the walls of the thatched village huts and enjoy the feel of authentic life style of the desert folks.

What to Eat & Where
to Eat

Little Italy inside the fort, at the main fort gate serves good food and occupies a great location. Enjoy the sunset and the view at the roof top restaurant on the ramparts, Ristorante Italiano. Do not miss theMakhanialassifrom Kanchan Shree located inside the fort. For an authentic Rajasthani experience, do visit the Desert Boys. They serve the best Dal BatiChurma. Trio is famous for serving authentic Rajasthani dishes like Mutton Saagand Mur-e-subz. Vegetarian dishes like GattekiSabzi is mouth watering too. Pyaaz (Onion) kiKachori is available on every road side food stall. For the satisfaction of your sweet tooth do have desserts at desert. DhanrajRanmalBhatiaya’sGhotuaLadoos, with a century old recipe and creamy Kalakand made from milk of local cattle are delicious.

Getting Around

Auto rickshaws are the best for exploring the city. Cycling is also a possibility. However, while visiting the sand dunes, one has to take a car into the desert till the base. To reach the dunes you have to ride a camel. If you want to avoid the bumpy ride you can take a camel drawn cart to reach the dunes.

How To Reach

FLIGHT

Jodhpur Airport is the nearest airport to Jaisalmer. From Jodhpur you can travel by road or by train.

TRAIN

Jaisalmer Railway Station is well connected by trains from Delhi, Jaipur and Jodhpur. However, from Jodhpur it takes 5hours 30 minutes which is the least time to reach Jaisalmerin comparison to Jaipur or Delhi which takes more than 12 hours. From the station, you can take an auto rickshaw or car to reach the centre of the city.

ROAD

Rajasthan Parivahan Nigam Bus stand (Vyas Colony) is the most popular bus stand in Jaisalmer connecting Jodhpur, Jaipur, Bikaner and Delhi. From Jodhpur (282kms) it takes 4.5 hours by car and 5 hours by bus viaNH125 and NH11 which is the shortest to reach Jaisalmer in comparison to the time taken and distance travelled from Bikaner, Jaipur or Delhi.

Find out a perfect

Surrounding Attractions

Jain temples at Lodhruva, Brahmasav and Pokharan are not only sites of religious importance but also of architectural splendour. Desert National Park(3162square Kilometres), situated in between Jaisalmer and Barmer, is one of the largest and houses a variety of birds, in spite of the fragile ecosystem. The landform is arid, composed mainly of sand and rocks. 6 million years’ old fossil of dinosaurs has been found in this region. Akal Fossil Park with its fossils from the Jurassic Age could also intrigue you.

More Destinations

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *