Jaisalmer is a major tourist spot located in the northwestern state of Rajasthan in India. It is known as the ‘golden city’ due to its bounteous golden dunes and castles clad in golden honey sandstone. Jaisalmer is adorned with lakes, ornate Jain temples and havelis. Climb on to the camel saddle and make your way through this desert or camp under the night sky in this golden land for an unforgettable experience.
The Jaisalmer Fort stands as a citadel and is surrounded by narrow alleys inhabited by people residing there for generations. With shops selling colourful handicrafts and havelis that will make you travel back in time, Jaisalmer is an amalgam of exotic Indian desert culture, heritage and adventure.
Jaisalmer Fort, nestled on the golden sands of Thar Desert, is not just a fort but a mini-town with houses, temples, shops, and restaurants. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it falls under the category of ‘Hill Forts of India’. Built in 1156, Jaisalmer Fort gets its name from the former Bhati Rajput ruler Rao Jaisal. More than three thousand people live within the fort walls with multiple entrance gates on the path up top, the last of which directs you to the popular public square named Dashera Chowk. The fort stands at an impressive height of 250 ft. and is surrounded by a 30 ft. tall walls. Owing to its altitude, it offers a stunning and panoramic view of Jaisalmer city draped in golden yellow!
One of the largest forts in the world, Jaisalmer Fort is located on the southern edge of the city and is popularly known as ‘Sonar Qila’ or ‘Golden Fort’. It is a massive structure exhibiting its aesthetic beauty. The walk through the labyrinthine lanes is an experience worth having. Jaisalmer Fort was initially named ‘Trikut Garh’ since it was triangular in shape and was also built over the Trikuta Hills. ‘Sonar Qila'(Golden Fort) as it is locally referred to, houses almost quarter of Jaisalmer’s population inside the complex.
Desert Safari in Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer in Rajasthan is a place frequently visited by tourists for its large stretches of desert sand. Most of the visitors prefer going for the desert safaris and planned packages. These tours are conducted either in the early morning or during the evening to avoid the scorching heat. Also, once the desert safari in Jaisalmer gets done, you can enjoy a delicious meal alongside musical dance program that showcases the local culture of Rajasthan. The desert safari is usually conducted in jeeps or personal cars; you can also enjoy the camel safari over the dunes that will give you a feeling of having stepped back in history. Although visitors usually prefer taking these safaris early in the morning, the night time is when the desert indeed comes alive.
Jaisalmer with its soft golden sand appears all the more beautiful. It is also known as the ‘golden city of Rajasthan’ and is also the place where the ancient Jaisalmer Fort is located. There are two types of Safari offered at the place namely Camel Safari and Jeep Safari in Sam Sand Dunes.
In camel safari, a camel rider is needed for the safari tour of 90 min. The same can be hired for a ride from a local tour operator. In jeep safari, one needs to travel for 45 km to Sam Sand Dunes. The only mode of transportation provided is a private cab.
Kuldhara Village, located around 20 kilometres from the Golden City jaisalmer is one of the most interesting and intriguing attraction sites that you should absolutely include in your itinerary. The village, rich with its fair share of legends and myths, is said to be a spooky and haunted village. The abandoned and eerily beautiful appearance of it, standing solitary amidst the vast stretches of desert, lives up to its reputation. There have been stories of ghostly and paranormal activities in and around the village, but like always no one could provide any solid proof of it. Visit it, if you wish to be surrounded by an air of mystery.
Legend says that the residents of the entire area left the place overnight altogether to save their honour and lives from the hands of the tyrannical minister. Thus, the entire area is calm but eerily silent! There is nothing to do as such, but the experience itself makes up for all of it. The government with the help of some private construction companies are setting up cafes, restaurants and even lodges for the night stay to turn the place into a full-fledged tourist place.
Jain Temples in Jaisalmer
Situated in the jaisalmer fort, Jain Temples in Jaisalmer are a must-visit while you are in the city. The temples, though ancient, have a high religious significance and ancient knowledge attached to them. Built in the Dilwara style that is famous all over the world for its architecture, these temples are dedicated to Rikhabdevji and Shambhavdev Ji, the famous Jain hermits known as ‘Tirthankaras’. Being a significant pilgrimage spot, the Jain Temples are truly a treasure of the Jaisalmer city and a fun place to be at for all those tourists who are interested in history and religion. All the seven temples are connected to each other and are built using the same golden-yellow Jaisalmeri stone.
Each temple appears as a riddle to the visitors having its own tale to narrate. These temples dedicated to Rishabhdev, Sambhavnath, Chandraprabhu, and Parsvanath have the most exquisite carvings imprinted on them. One can enjoy the stunning sculptures around the walls which are protected by glass cupboards and pillars carved with Gods and celestial women.
If anyone is especially interested in finding the ancient remains and history of these temples, there is a place present just for that- the Gyan Bhandar. As the name suggests, the Gyan Bhandar is a very tiny and attractive library founded in 1500. Priceless old texts and manuscripts are present in the library. Jain Temples in Jaisalmer are a must-visit, especially if architecture and history interest you.
Desert National Park
Situated near the town of Jaisalmer, Desert national park is among the largest of its kind in the country, encompassing an area of 3162 sq kms. The park covers a huge area extending from Jaisalmer/Barmer all the way to the India-Pakistan border. In spite of being right in the middle of an arid, dry, and sandy desert, the desert national park presents a wonderful opportunity to see the wildlife such as camels, desert fox, Bengal fox, chinkara, wolves, desert cat, and the Blackbuck. The intriguing landmark offers everything one can expect from a desert ecosystem, craggy rocks and compact salt lake bottoms, intermedial areas and fixed dunes. The dunes consist of about 20% of the park. The entire area is covered with thorny bushes, cacti and a few desert plants. If you want to explore the majestic wildlife at the Desert National Park, then the best way to do so is by going for an adventure-filled jeep safari which will be an entirely new exciting experience.
It is located close to the mighty Thar desert and defies all stereotypical notions of the non-existence of flora and fauna in the deserts. As, even though the ecosystem is harsh and fragile, it houses an abundance of birdlife and is a haven for a variety of migratory and resident desert birds. One of the rarest species of birds, The Great Indian Bustard is found here.
Apart from that various eagles, harriers, falcons, buzzards, kestrel, vultures, Short-toed eagles, tawny eagles, spotted eagles, laggar falcons and kestrel can also be seen here. One can see the life forms continuously fighting with the harsh environment to survive and prevailing to create yet another marvel of nature. Apart from the magnificent birds, the desert park also has a collection of fossils of animals and birds, some of which are more than 180 million years old. Some 6 million-year-old fossils of dinosaurs have also been found in the area. Visiting the desert national park to witness the mighty birds soaring in the sky while marvelling the changing landscape of the desert is definitely one of the best ways to spend holidays.
On the outskirts of Jaisalmer in the arid state of Rajasthan lies the beautiful Gadisar Lake, which sits like an oasis in the heart of a desert. Back in the middle ages, there were no canals or irrigation system or other scientific methods to bring water to the arid regions of Rajasthan. This reservoir was built by Raja Rawal Jaisal keeping in mind the need of his people. Located close to the fort of Jaisalmer, the lake is an easy respite from the hot and dry desert climate. Gadisar Lake offers scenic and picturesque views of the lake and the adjacent fort, especially when the eastern sky is blood red and the sun rises, striking its rays on the top floors of jaisalmer fort.
Whether you like to spend some quiet time by yourself or have fun with your family, Gadisar Lake has a handful of experiences to offer. You can go boating in the lake or simply enjoy a walk around the embankment. If winter is your time of visit, you might just be lucky enough to see beautiful exotic migratory birds flocking in and around the lake from the nearby bird sanctuary of Bharatpur.
Sam Sand Dunes
Sam Sand Dunes in Jaisalmer is an offbeat natural tourist destination in Rajasthan right in the middle of the Thar Desert. Right in the middle of the historical forts and colourful markets, Sam Sand Dunes are among the best and most authentic in the country, some rising as tall as 30-60 metres tall. Lying around 40-42 kilometres from the golden city of Jaisalmer, the dunes are located over calm and undulating stretches of golden yellow sand stretching for around 2 kilometres along the borders of the Jaisalmer Desert National Park. Travellers often come here to witness the dramatic and sunrise and sunsets. You can also gain a close insight into the culture and tradition of Rajasthan with dances and musicals that are staged around the campfires at night.
If you have some time, do camp in the desert with the locals! There is a tradition of crackling up a bonfire with your fellow tourists and enjoying the festivities the evening brings in the campsites. In short, a visit to the Sam Sand Dunes is a once in a lifetime experience, with its uncovered and unadorned natural beauty and the true culture of the state in its unabridged authenticity.