Westernmost in Rajasthan
Go there for :
25°-41°C (Sum); 7.9°-23.6°C
When to Go:
Oct - Feb
STD Code :
+91 - 2922
Jaisalmer is blue-blood of the desertland - Rajasthan.
And without flipping the pages of the Government records, we can stick to
the statement for here is the true Thar city replete with a 250 ft yellowed
Fort guarding a city where sand dunes roll to the plaintive strain of
Rudaalis (a Rajasthani mourner) and the slush of embroidered skirts as women
frolic about amidst mighty havelis (mansions).
Tale of the City
The princely city was once a busy sea-port during the British era.
But with Bombay shooting into limelight, replaced the traditional land
routes. And finally the partition of India in 1947 spelled the end
for this desertland with the closing of all the trade routes on the Indo-Pak
border and Jaisalmer turned into a drought-prone forgotten desert backwater
on the international border. This continued till the Tourism industry turned
their flashlights to its treasure trove of forts and palaces and the rest is
This 12th century Fort, standing tall and
aloof almost 30m above the city on Trikuta Hill, emanates a golden-yellow
halo, further accentuated by the 30 ft high sandstone walls and 99 turrets.
The Ganesh Pol, Suraj Pol, Bhoot Pol, Hawa Pol are its many entrances.
Antiquity apart, what makes it a fort with a difference, a site that
inspired famed Indian director Satyajit Ray for the novel-turned-movie Sonar
Kella (the Golden Fortress), is an alive city pulsating in its interiors
along Jain temples, shops, Jaisalmers oldest seven story palace (Raj
Mahal), and what not. The lanes inside are twisting and at times so narrow
that it can be blocked by a single cow. Amongst the Jain temples, the best
ones, Rishabnath and Sambhavnath, are open to non-Jains between 7am and
noon. Head for the Toap Khana (Place of Cannon) and from there let your eyes
sashay the entire locality. If you hear bhajans (Hindu spiritual songs) loud
and clear, then that must be from the Laxminath Temple nearby. A visit there
too is recommended.
Incase you are wondering what is this hung-ho about
havelis, they are basically ethnic, ornate sandstone mansions of the
Jaisalmer wealthy merchants with spacious courtyards, relief carvings,
filigreed windows, and lacelike screens and jarokhas (small projecting
balconies). The Jaisalmer Fort encloses a handful of havelis, but the best
ones are there dotted down in the town. The most infatuating ones are the
Patwon ki Haveli (five-story, largest of all), Salim Singh ki Haveli (with a
beautifully arched roof capped with blue cupolas and carved brackets in the
form of peacocks), and Nathmalji ki Haveli (ornate with interesting
carvings). Some of the havelis are as old as 300 years and one will be but
awed to witness the freshness they still exude.
Gadi Sagar Tank:
South of the city walls is this once water source
of the entire town. The legion of temples and shrines around this water-hole
and the multi-colored avian invaders that make a foray every winter, make
this place a fine rejuvenatory. The beautiful arched gateway to the tank is
believed to have been built by a prostitute who also added a Krishna temple
so that the then king could not tear it down.
The Jaisalmer Folklore Museum is a private Museum that
boasts of an interesting heirloom of handicrafts, depiction of the love
story of Princess Moomal and King Mahendra and so on. The other Museums you
can drop by are the Government Museum and the Desert Culture Center &
Camping amidst endless sands, frolicking the locales
on the bestial camel, trekking to the sites, bonfires at night - are
activities that make your desert tour stand apart from the rest other then
the sun-tan and the dust. You can check out our exciting desert safari
packages that are a fine enmesh of such activities and sightseeing.
The best buys at Jaisalmer are wooden boxes with intricate
carvings, ethnic rugs, hand-woven blankets, shawls woven in typical
Rajasthani handiwork with mirror-works, silver jewelery, trinkets and
dextrous embroidered fabrics. The major shopping arcades are Sadar Bazar,
Sonaron ka Bas, Manak Chowk, Pansari Bazar and so on. The Govt. Emporiums
are the safest bets anytime. Khadi Gram Udyog Emporiums are also
recommended. Barmer Embroidery House (near Patwon ki Haveli) owned by
Abhimanyu Rathi, legendary for his fine eye for antique textiles is another
place you should not miss.
Once there, instead of opting for your continental palate, you must
dare the typically fiery Rajasthani cuisine. Tango your taste buds with the
the famed gatta curry, macchi/maas sulas, lal/safed maas and the ever
present ker-sangri. Add to it the local musicians playing some exotic tune
that take you right in the midst of rolling sand dunes and caravans with
eyes closed. For desserts you have a variety of sweetmeats to devour. The
Trio Restaurant, Gopa Chowk, Kalpana Khana, Monica Restaurant, Saffron,
Bikaner, Natraj Restaurants, Top Deck are some of the best and safe bets for
delectable dishes. And the escapade inside the Fort leaves you hungry, you
can drop by at 8 July Restaurant and Little Tibet.
Held over three days in Jan/Feb every
year, this is when the Kalbelia dances (gypsies and snake charmers), folk
songs, fire dancers - all benchmark traditional performances, can be
enjoyed. Besides, turban-tying contest, camel races, Mr. Desert contest are
other spicy add-ons to this already popular festival.
Bollywood take on Jaisalmer: Director Samir Karnik (of Kyun Ho Gaya Na
fame) is coming up with a Bobby Deol starer flick called Nanhe
Jaisalmer, about a kid who calls himself Nanhe Jaisalmer (little
Jaisalmer), and spreads the news that his camel is the best out there. What
else lies in store remains a mystery, but it sure will be a good virtual
tour of the place once released.
(6 km NW): A dilapidated Jain Temple stands
amidst the ruins of an erstwhile palatial garden.
(15 km NW): Beyond Amar Sagar is the once capital-city of
Jaisalmer founded by the Lodra Rajputs. The ornate Jain Temples and Kalputra
(the divine tree) are attractions to look out for.
Sam Sand Dunes
(42 km): An hour long jeep safari will take you to
this locale of rolling sand-dunes. Even better if you jaunt on the camel to
watch the vermilion sky engulfing the blazing desert sun with a Sahara
lok-a-like spread before you.
(7 km N): An oasis with a huge old dam awaits you at Bada
Bagh which feeds Jaisalmer most of its vegetables and other products. Around
the dam are gardens with royal cenotaphs and equestrian statues of former
rulers. And if you have reached this place at sunset, turn your head to see
Jaisalmer turn a warm golden brown.
(110 km): A yellow sandstone fort on the junction of
Jaisalmer-Bikaner and Jaisalmer-Jodhpur roads marks this quiet town that was
flooded with limelight when India carried out her first nuclear tests here.
The furniture here is awesome and even better if you can arrange to ferry
Hop Next to: Jodhpur
(300 km), Bikaner