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Shubhyatra >> Rajasthan Yatra >> Jaisalmer

JAISALMER

Location : 285 km from Jodhpur
Renowned As : Desert Destination of Thar
Must Visit : Fort (Golden Fortress), Havelis
When To Go : During Desert Festival (February)

Jaisalmer Fort
The Golden Fort of Jaisalmer



FACT FILE
To See : Jaisalmer Fort, Rajmahal, Parsvanath Jain Temple, Chandraprabhu Temple, Gadisar Lake, Salim Singh-ki-Haveli, Nathmal-ki-Haveli
Famous Festivals : Desert Festival - a Prime Attraction, celebrated in Month of February.
Don't Miss : Boat Ride and Feeding of numerous Catfish in Gadisar Tank, Viewing Exquisite Paintings Patwon-ki-Haveli, Camel Safari on Sand Dunes.
Getting Around : Baisakhi 16 km, Luderwa 16 km, Mool Sagar 8 km, Kuldhara and Khabha Villages 30 km, Sam sand dunes 45 km.
To Shop : Rajmahal - Embroidery and mirror work, Jain Temples Lane - Mineral Specimens like Zeolites, Rajasthali at Gandhi Chowk - Handicrafts, Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan - Woolen Blankets
Getting There : Air : 5 km in the cantonment area, operational only in September to March. Alternative Jodhpur Airport - 300 km
Rail :Railway Station is10 minutes drive from Gadi Sagar Pol.
Road : 18 hrs drive from Delhi, 14 hrs from Jaipur, 6 ½ hrs - Bikaner, 5 hrs- Jodhpur.
Inside Tip : Visit to Sam dunes and watch the Sun set in the evening. Explore desert on your own but always within the proximity of your tour.
Important Distances : 280 km from NW of Jodhpur, 352 km SW of Bikaner, 624 km W of Jaipur via Jodhpur, 884 km SW of Delhi, Pokran 110 km, Barmer 153 km, Agra - 802 km, Mumbai - 1140 km.
Eating Options : Ristorabte Italiano La Purezza a rooftop restaurant - Beer, Pizzas, Pastas, Trio - Indian and Western Cuisine, Rang Mahal Hotel - Traditional Rajasthani Cuisine.
Staying Options : Hotel Fort Rajwada, Hotel Rawal Kot, Hotel Killa Bhawan, Hotel Jaisal Castle, Narayan Niwas Palace.

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Jaisalmer - Where 'The Tales of The Arabian Nights' Come To Life

The name Jaisalmer, itself evokes a lucid picture of pure brilliance and magic of the sun kissed desert. This enchanting city of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan has been credited as the 'Golden City' because of the honey colour imparted to its yellow sandstone ramparts by the setting sun of Rajasthan. The view of Jaisalmer's colossal fort thrusting heavenwards out of the barren desert scape is impressive, and the mirage doesn't diminish, even as you approach the bastions, and lose yourself in the labyrinthine streets and bazaars snaking around. Local colour and conviviality prevail over the rustic and solitary terrain, moistening the medieval town with special drops of history. The first half of the story wander around the imposing 12th century Jaisalmer Fort and the ambrosial havelis built by wealthy merchants of Jaisalmer. The second half is, of course, about the romantic sand dunes, the best way of exploring their unbelievable charisma is by a camel safari.

The Jaisalmer Chronicle

Jaisalmer's strategic location on the camel train contours, between India and Central Asia, brought it great wealth. The Jaisalmer Rajputs brimmed their treasure chests with immoral gain, won through cattle maneuvering and by more orthodox methods such as imposing excise duties on the caravans, which passed through their kingdom to Delhi. They were renowned both for their chivalry and their treachery, as they fought to enlarge and secure their territories. The Jaisalmer city, with its omnipresent golden hue, spilled down from the majestic fort sometime in the 16th century, and stretched itself outside the fort ramparts, around four centuries after Rawal Jaisal founded his golden city on Trikuta Hills. At Independence, partition and slashing of trade routes through to Pakistan, apparently sealed the city's fate, resulting in massive water shortage. However, the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars brought the strategic location of Jaisalmer into limelight, and the Indira Gandhi Canal, to the north, restored life to the barren heart of desert.

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Sonar Kila - Genesis of Gold In Stone
The diamond of the necklace is obviously the 'Golden Fortress', atop the Trikuta Hill. The glorious fort of Jaisalmer seems to rise out of the desert haze, its yellow sandstone walls and bastions taking on a golden hue in the afternoon sun. In fact, at whatever time of the day you look at the 'Sonar Kila' (golden fortress), it looks like a fairy tale creation dominating the amber tinted city. This magnificent fort, with its 99 bastions, is probably the planet's only living fort, with about a quarter of the old city's population dwelling in it. It is fun to wander around in this living fort, packed with houses, temples, handicraft shops, beauty parlours, and honeycombed with slender winding lanes, in same or different incarnations of stone.

Religion and fine arts flourished under the rulers of Jaisalmer, and although professing Hinduism, they were liberal to Jainism, building up beautiful temples with exquisite carvings, which now bedeck the old city within the fort walls. Sculptural depictions of both Hindu and Jain deities are bounteous, and holy men stand side by side on the walls of these fine edifices.

Havelis - Symphony In Stone
The main attraction of Jaisalmer's architecture lies in the decorative latticework covering their sandstone facades. The merchants built magnificent mansions (Havelis), all carved from wood and yellow sandstone. These havelis are perhaps, the last truly Indian buildings, designed without a tint of European architecture. These colossal residences can be found elsewhere in Rajasthan (as in Shekhawati), but nowhere are they as attractive as in Jaisalmer. Walk along the cobbled stone pathways to reach the most elaborate and magnificent of all the Jaisalmer havelis, Patwon ki Haveli (1800-1860), an opulent relic of lost pleasures, Some of the rooms are empty, topped with gilt ceilings. In others, the walls are embellished by faded paintings of women, men with broad moustaches and colorful turbans, battles and hunting trips.

Next one can visit Salim Singh ki Haveli (1815). The most impressive feature of this mansion is a pavilion that seems to float on top of the building and a beautifully arched roof with superb carved brackets in the shape of peacocks. Walk outside to the voluminous courtyard, a rugged staircase leads up to the room on top, still bedazzling with its walls of blackened, befogged mirror; the Moti Mahal, where dancing damsels once created newer harmony every evening.

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Shielding The Treasure
Unfortunately, the Jaisalmer fort is listed among the 100 most endangered sites of the World Monument Fund. Recently, several walls and bastions have collapsed outright to raise concern of the Rajasthan Government and media. The cause is attributed to the constitution of Trikuta Hill; fine sandstone and bentonite (multani mitti), which allows enough water to drain in, which in turn swells up the soil thereby putting pressure on the fort's structural foundations. Maharawal Brijraj Singh, being the local representative of INTACH, has taken a few satisfying initiatives to restore the ramparts, esp. the Rani ka Mahal and Hawa Pol. The work is done with extreme precaution, stones are taken down, numbered and replaced in correct order, to strengthen the foundation.

Unsung Enchantments Splashed Around Jaisalmer

Camel Safari at Jaisalmer
Camel Safari at Jaisalmer

The Shimmering Lakes And Chaste Gardens
Jaisalmer India tourism can be undertaken to visit the Gadisagar Lake, situated at a stone's throw from the city centre, once a major channel of water source to the Jaisalmer city. The lake attracts both the avian guests as well as their watchers during winters. Enclosed within lush green gardens and housing a domed pavilion in the centre, the lake portrays alluring colours all the day. Tourists can enjoy boating with paddleboats on the lake, thanks to RDTC. Drive 6 km west of the downtown to visit another picturesque lake, surrounded by dense copse of trees. Walk along the banks and observe the ornate carvings on the royal cenotaphs. There is also an effigy of a former ruler on a horseback, which attracts quite a lot of travellers.

Plunge The Sand Mirages At Sam Dunes
About an hour drive to the west and towards the international border with Pakistan, Jaisalmer in Rajasthan is the fairly extensive shifting sand dunes of Sam (42 km). Hop on to a camel for an hour around sunset, and wander over the virgin sands of Sam. Give the holiday tours an impetus of adventure camping in Rajasthan and meet the Thar from a completely different angle. The terrain which was once rugged, have been modified into deluxe dwells; portable Swiss tents, electrified and, complete with bath and running water facilities will make one's stay on the dunes a truly comfortable and memorable experience. Dinner with delicious barbecue is accompanied by music from the folk musicians, creating melodies with their 'dholaks' and 'sarangis'. The tourist reception centre near Garhisar Circle on the National Highway can help travellers to find a safari, by car or camel on request, to match respective budgets and interests. One can find travel agencies near the Akshaypol at the fort entrance. Generally these are organised from 8 am- 12 noon in summer and 9 am- 1 pm in winters.

The Jain Lantern of Illumination
Drive 15 km northwest of the Jaisalmer city to reach Lodhruva, erstwhile capital of the 'Bhattis'. Lodhruva's main attraction is a Jain temple dedicated to Tirthankar Parsavanath. Festooned by an elaborate 'toran', its grand shrine is shaped like a lantern, its neatly carved 'jaalis' looks as if being handicrafted using scissors on a paper.

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The Colourful Festive Extravaganza

Desert Festival , Jaisalmer
Desert Festival , Jaisalmer

The four-day Desert Festival is a colourful extravaganza of culture, art and entertainment, held every year in February coinciding with the full moon is one of the major attractions of thi desert city. The festival reverberates with folk music and dance, handicraft display and sale, Mr. Desert contest and other interesting merrymakings like camel polo and fire dances.

Shopping Junctions

Proficient weavers, who spin magic with threads, find ready markets in Jaisalmer, and hence crowd from the nearby regions, like the Kutch. The lanes inside the fort are packed with shops selling fabrics, adorned with embroidery and mirror work, but at an unimaginably low price. One can also go for camel leather goods like bags, hats, wallets and jootis (embroidered shoes). While in Jaisalmer for a holiday vacation, don't forget to get a few pieces of the golden artifacts, made from the same material as the fort itself. Tourists can also visit the government run Rajasthali Emporium or the Khadi Gramodyog Bhandar, near the Amar Sagar Gate. Take up a Jaisalmer India tourism visit the numerous stalls lined up at Sadar Bazaar, displaying carved panels in stone, or the Sonaron ka Bas, to take home chunky silver jewelleries, available in appealing range. These are some of the major attractions of Jaisalmer.

Dining Delight

Famous desert city of Jaisalmer has a new introduction to the dining circle is of the Jaisalmer Junction, spread over a nearly half-acre plot on the spacious grounds of the Jodhpur highway, at Air Force Circle. The terrain is adorned with colourful canopies and grass-roof shelters. The meal contains many mouth-watering delicacies of the Indian cuisine (veg. and non-veg.) and snacks with a sprinkling of Chinese and Continental. One can also visit the Jawahar Niwas, earlier a guest house of the royal family, now converted into a hotel owned by the current Maharawal. Give your palate a tint of 'ker sangri' (desert beans and capers), a speciality of Jaisalmer cuisine.

News You Can Use

The airport, earlier a military base with a recent civil terminal, is about 5 km from downtown. Jagson Airlines (office is at Gandhi Chowk) has recently started its services, linking this sand city with Delhi, Jaipur and Jodhpur, on a tri-weekly basis. Travellers can avail taxis or private cabs to come to the city centre.

Tourists can also catch a train from Sarai Rohilla in Delhi, the railway junction at Jaisalmer being 2 km from the city centre. The Rajasthan Sampark Kranti Express (2463) leaves Sarai Rohilla at 8:50 am in the morning and reaches Bikaner Junction at 9 pm in the evening. One can also avail the Delhi Jaisalmer Express (4059), which departs from Delhi Junction at 5:25 pm and reaches straight to Jaisalmer at 1:30 pm in the afternoon, providing ample time to the tourists to check into respective hotels and sight seeing.

There are no yellow-top taxis in town and tourists have to travel in private cabs, available near fort parking and opposite Poonam stadium. One can also hire auto-rickshaws for local commutation within the city and nearby areas of tourist interest. For travel related more information, one can contact the Tourist Reception Centre, Deptt. Of Tourism, Rajasthan, near Gahrisar Circle on Jodhpur Highway, between 9 am- 6 pm on working days.

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Jaisalmer - Rajasthan

The Golden Chapter of Glory
Plan a holiday trip to Jaisalmer and you will be amazed to see the genesis of gold in stone. Made up of yellow sandstone, the Jaisalmer fort radiates a golden hue in the evening which surely enthralls every traveller.


The Festival of Sands
Major attractions of Jaisalmer includes the grand carnival that displays some chosen and cherished moments of the glorious past and affluent traditional culture of Rajasthan. Rajasthani men and tall beautiful women dressed in their brightly colored and embroidered attires dance and sing lingering ballads of chivalry, romance and tragedy while caparisoned camels show their utmost skills of dancing and merriment.


Mansions of Fortune
Take a Jaisalmer India tour and visit the numerous havelis, Jaisalmer is famous for. The main attraction of Jaisalmer's architecture lies in the decorative latticework covering their sandstone facades all carved from wood and yellow sandstone. These havelis are perhaps, the last truly Indian buildings, designed without a tint of European architecture.


Shop Till You Drop
While in Jaisalmer for a holiday vacation, don't forget to get a few pieces of the golden artifacts - bowls, glasses and other decorative items - made from the same material as the fort itself. Look for exquisite fabrics, adorned with embroidery and mirror work, but at an unimaginably low price.


On The Dunes
Enjoy dinner with delicious barbecue, accompanied by music from the folk musicians, creating melodies with their 'dholaks' and 'sarangis', in the famous desert city of Jaisalmer. Sip a beer and chill down under the vast canopy of stars at Sam Sand dunes.


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