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Explore Western Rajasthan

The west is in some ways quintessential Rajasthan, with all the romance of desert dunes, majestic forts and camel caravans. Most of the region is covered by the Thar Desert, which also extends into Punjab, Gujarat and Pakistan. The Thar is the world’s most populous arid zone, mostly covered by scrub vegetation, with plentiful villages eking out a living from their animals and maintaining a richly colourful desert culture. Three ancient and atmospheric cities form the focus of travel here, each with a monumental fort at its heart. Proud Jodhpur is a halfway house between the relatively urbane cities of eastern Rajasthan and the state’s wild west. Bikaner and above all Jaisalmer are relatively remote desert cities and popular starting points for desert safaris. You won’t quickly forget nights sleeping under the desert stars or your camel’s rhythmic progress across the landscape.

Mehrangarh

Situated at an altitude of about 125 metres, the Mehrangarh Fort is spread over an area of 5 sq. km in the heart of the city. The fort has seven gates of which the noted ones are the Jayapol, built by Maharaja Man Singh in 1806; Fatehpol or the Victory Gate built by Maharaja Ajit Singh; and the Lohapol or the Iron Gate. The 15 handprints, the sati marks of Maharaja Man Singh’s widows who threw themselves upon his funeral pyre in 1843, can be seen beside the Lohapol. On the wall, one can see the strategically located cannons.

Inside the fort, a series of courtyards and palaces greet the visitor. The palace apartments house a splendid collection of the trappings of the Indian royalty. The fort is visited by thousands of tourists every year who come to have a glimpse of the artillery system of the Rajput warriors. One can have a bird’s eye view of the city from the fort.

Magnificent Mehrangarh, one of Rajasthan’s finest forts, looks down protectively over the city, from the hilltop. The fort is situated at an altitude of about 125 metres and is spread over an area of 5 sq. km with seven gates. One could drive up or walk to the top of the small and not so steep hill. Driving or walking up, the sheer rock face from where emerges the tall and massive sandstone wall of Mehrangarh looks awesome indeed.

Timing

9 AM to 5 PM Open all day

Places near Mehrangarh Fort

  • Jaswant Thada
  • Gayatri Shri shaktipeeth Shri Chamunda Devi Temple
  • Rao Jodha Desert
  • Sheesh palace
  • Ghanta Ghar
  • Mehrangarh Museum Trust
  • Mehrangarh Fort
  • Mehran Terrace

Junagarh

Junagarh Fort is located amidst the Thar Desert and was built by Raja Rai Singh in 1594. Located on a sprawling land of 5.28 hectare, this place is studded with temples, palaces and pavilions. Its 986m-long wall, with 37 bastions, is surrounded by a (now dry) moat. Within the vicinity of fort, there are 7 palaces, viz. Bikaneri Havelies, Phool Mahal (“Flower Palace”), Anup Mahal, Chandra Mahal, Ganga Mahal, Badal Mahal and Bikaneri Havelies. Bikaner tour is incomplete without witnessing these grand palace and huge walls.

A temple of the royal family called “Ratan Behari temple” is also housed in Junagarh Fort; this shrine is a must visit during Gangaur festival and Dussehra. There is a museum as well which was established in 1961 by Maharaja Dr. Karni Singhji. It exhibits many Persian and Sanskrit manuscripts, jewels, royal costumes, farmans (royal orders), portrait galleries, costumes

Timing

10 AM to 4:30 PM

Places near Junagarh Fort

  • Prachina Museum
  • Lallgarh Palace
  • Sardul Singh Statue
  • Ratan Behari Temple
  • Ganga Singh Statue
  • Gopi Nathji Mandir

Bhandasar Jain Temple

Jain temple is one of the oldest temples in Bikaner, and was built in the 15th century. It is decorated with mirror work, frescoes and leaf paintings. The temple is built of red sandstone and is divided into three floors. One can see the skyline of Bikaner by climbing to the topmost floor of this temple. It is believed that the temple was made with 40,000 kilograms of ghee instead of mortar, which locals insist seeps through the walls on hot days.

One of the oldest Jain temples in Bikaner, Jain temple Bhandasar is known for its beautiful leaf paintings, frescoes and ornamented mirror work. The temple has three floors and is a red sand stone structure. Dedicated to the fifth tirthankar, Sumtinath, it was commissioned by Bhandasa Oswal, a rich Jain merchant. The construction of the temple started in 1468 but got completed in 1554, after his demise.

The first floor of Jain temple Bhandasar has stunning miniatures of the gods’ carriers. Visitors can climb up to the third floor to savor wonderful views of the city surroundings. It is said that 40,000 kilograms of ghee was used in the construction of this temple in the place of water in mortar. Locals state that this ghee (clarified butter) leaks through temple walls when the days are hot.

The colorful paintings and yellow-stone carvings make the interior look splendid. Arabesques in floral shapes adorn the pillars. There are interesting illustrations showcasing the lives of the 24 Jain trithankars.

Timing

 05:00 AM – 01:00 PM and 05.30 PM – 11.30 PM

Jaisalmer Fort

Counted amongst the largest fortifications on this planet, Jaislamer fort is the true pride of the the Rajput legacy which once governed Jaisalmer. It was the time of 1156 AD, when this majestic fort came in to existence and that too under the reign of a Rajput ruler.

This world heritage site boasts of huge yellow sandstone walls, owing to which, it is also known as Golden fort (Sonar Quila). Highly reminiscent of the Arabian night fables, the imposing fort stands mighty high right in the middle of the Thar, overlooking the whole city. Such a majestic stance makes it the most prominent tourist attraction in Jaisalmer.

How to Reach ?

Jaisalmer city in the south-western part of Rajasthan resides in the heart of the Thar Desert and is well accessible from various parts of the state and the country. Following are the means to reach Jaisalmer

By Air: Jaisalmer do not have a commercial airport, only a military airport that allows only chartered flights. Thus, one can rely on Jodhpur domestic airport for this, which is the closest and is well connected with the major cities of India.  

By Rail: However, Jaisalmer do have a well-established network of railway system that covers most of the prominent Indian cities like Delhi, Jaipur and Jodhpur. Regular trains that run to and fro here are the Howrah Jaisalmer Express, Lalgarh Jaisalmer Special and Delhi Jaisalmer Express.

Br Road: Road travelers can make use of bus service from Jaipur, as there are no direct buses from New Delhi.

Timing

9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

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