This was not my first trip to Rajasthan. Having travelled to Jaipur, Ajmer and Jodhpur before, Jaisalmer had been on my wish list for a very long time. Already seen in historical places, hill stations and mountains, the desert still remained to be explored. Finally as decided to celebrate New Year again and reached Rajasthan. I wrote about my visit to Blue City Jodhpur & after finished we were on the way to Golden city by road from Jodhpur. Looking beyond the colour the desolate road from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer is peaceful in its seclusion; the sense is one of pastoral calm, not brooding melancholy. Cows settle on the roads like bitter gossips, loath to get up even when goaded by a booted foot. Camels, managing to look both regal and dim-witted at the same time, wander aimlessly down the streets, pulling low carts and frustrated owners behind them.
on the way
Jaisalmer, the Golden City, the heart of the famous Thar Desert is considered to be the poster city of “Incredible India”, Jaisalmer with its rich and colourful cultural heritage is indeed a unique tourist destination revered both by Indians as well as foreign tourists. Jaisalmer is known for its enchanting sand dunes, marvellous golden palace, ornate Jain temples and the myriad lists of places to visit. The finely sculptured monuments in this city have successfully retained all their glory, cultural diversity, vibrant glory and the richness of a bygone era. Be it the camel safaris, or the ascetic beauty of the surrounding, the city reflects the timeless beauty of a legacy left behind by the rulers. We had an excellent driver cum Guide Salim drove us through the beautiful journey of the city to the Desert & depicted the history of the city in all aspects.
A complete view of Sonar Quila
Jaisalmer fort is one of the largest forts around the world. Located on Tirukuta Hill, this fort was built by Rao Jaisal, one of the mightiest rulers of Jaislamer. Due to its location at the golden stretches of the Thar Desert, made of yellow sandstone this fort is also known as the ‘Sonar Quila’ or the ‘Golden Fort’, this living fort with a quarter of the city’s population is one of the largest forts of the world. The golden colour of the fort lures tourists from all over the world. The interior of the fort is packed with palaces, Havelis, temples, and handicraft shops with winding stone-paved lanes.
Jaisalmer fort by nightfall is a sight breathtaking with all the romance and mystery. The fort looks magical when it is lit up at night. The fort walls provide superb views over the old city and surrounding desert. Strolling around the outer fort ramparts is a popular activity at sunset. Jaisalmer Fort rises like a mirage from the sands, with its huge turrets pointing skywards. 30 feet high wall with as many as 99 bastions is indeed one of the most marvellous and magical structures of Rajasthan.
Shooting place of Sonar Quila movie
Jain temple is located within the boundaries of the Jaisalmer fort. This temple is a must-visit on a Jaisalmer tour. Craved of yellow sandstones and built in the Dilwara style these Jain temples stand as a testimony to cities glorious past, religious fervour and splendorous architectural skills. Carved lotus symbols on the temple domes, a number of stone sculptures and captions on the temple walls, rich carvings of animal and human figures and the sense of calmness and serenity make the Jain temples one of the most popular and sought-after tourist destinations of Jaisalmer.
The famous Gadisar Lake when we visited turned into a pond surrounded by dirty water & the smell of cow dung. I was a bit surprised to see the condition of the symbol of peace and prosperity. It was once a water reservoir to the whole of Rajasthan & now tourists hardly pay attention here.
The entrance to Gadisar Lake is through a magnificent and artistically carved yellow sandstone archway that is known as the Tilon-Ki-Pol. Artistically carved Chattris, Temples, Shrines and Ghats surrounding the banks of the Lake coupled with its tranquil water make it an ideal place to spend time in a serene atmosphere.
The Patwon ki Haveli is considered to be one of the most important Havelis of Jaisalmer because of two important things: it was the first Haveli to be ever built in Jaisalmer and it is a cluster of 5 different havelis making it one of the biggest Havelis. The other name given to this Haveli is the “mansion of brocade merchants” because the Patwa family used to deal in gold and silver. The exteriors and interiors of this haveli are expositions of fine craftsmanship. The walls of the haveli are decorated with intricate carvings and murals and are painted in golden colour.
Inside the haveli there is a large collection of t-shirts, bangles, earrings, Kundan pieces of jewellery, key rings, hats, vibrant umbrellas, and multi-colour mirror-oriented dresses with an unbelievable price that will surely leave you spellbound!
Unlike the other national parks in India, this park lies barren and is formed by sand dunes, rocky surfaces and salt lake bottoms. The park also has some fixed dunes spreading throughout its length and breadth around 3100 square kilometres. Chinkara, Indian Fox, Blackbuck, Peacocks, Hare and Desert Cat are some of the most commonly found animals in this park. A considerable number of sand grouses can also be seen near the water holes. During the mornings, you can witness the abundant activity of early birds such as the grey partridge for instance. Amongst the birds, the Great Indian Bustard or the state bird of Rajasthan is found in abundance in this park.
View of the cursed village
Located 18 km away from Jaisalmer, the way to desert Kuldhara village is known as the ghost village. Lying abandoned for the past few centuries, this village has no signs of human life and is also known as one of the haunted places in Rajasthan. A clan of eighty-five villages, Kuldhara was once inhabited by the Paliwal Brahmins, but due to some adverse happenings, the natives evacuated the village within a night. It is also said that while leaving the village, the villagers put a curse on it. According to the curse, anyone dwelling within the village will have to meet a fearful fate, death in the worst cases! (Read more: Kuldhara Village)
A must-visit this place reveals a lot about the people and their cultures of this region. Abundant with artefacts and items of cultural interest, the museum displays rare Rajasthani textiles, utensils, and weapons. There is also a collection of musical instruments which are rarely seen today. The museum displays ‘Karal’, an opium mixing box that is one of the most popular attractions among tourists. It is believed that the use of opium was common several centuries ago in Rajasthan where it was used as a substance to relax and rejuvenate. The museum also has some of the ancient scriptures written by ancient poets and litterateurs.
Rajasthanis love their food and it is evident in their preparations. Dal Bati Churma, ker sangria and Laal Maas are the most famous dishes from the state. Every food enthusiast must have tasted them at least once. One sweet name still watering mouth is Godwa. Your trip to Rajasthan is incomplete if you haven’t experienced their scrumptious dishes.
On each & every travel I always love to buy many things which mesmerize me with the smell of that region. So as a shopaholic I must say shopping in Jaisalmer is a unique experience. The markets at Sadar Bazaar, Sonaron Ka Bas, Manak Chowk and Pansari Bazaar are quite good. Look for camel leather goods and Rajasthani embroidery. You can also head to the government-run shops – Khadi gramodyog bhandar, and Rajasthali. They have a beautiful collection of authentic Rajasthani goods with exorbitant price tags that appear to fleece tourists.
A visit to Jaisalmer is seldom complete without a visit to the khuri in the Thar Desert. Among the many enchanting places to see in Jaisalmer, the sand dunes in the desert are the most striking sites to behold. Appearing to be itsy-bitsy mountains in the heart of the Thar Desert, these sand dunes are the ideal places to relinquish oneself into the vicinity of the desert and admire its delightfulness. Located on the outskirts of Jaisalmer, Khuri sand dunes are a popular visiting spot. Khuri village is one of the best places to visit in Jaisalmer to witness how people live in the desert. You can see the many mud and straw houses at Khuri. These homes have impressive exterior decorations. Camel riding is one of the main activities in this village and while visiting this village, you can explore the vast expanses of the desert outskirts on a camelback. The crests and troughs of the dunes will intrigue you. Some dunes reach mesmerizing heights. Whilst experiencing the terrain of the desert, you can also visit the local settlements to experience the culture. Sit in the verandas of the straw-thatched homes. The music of the Kalbeliyas is something you should not miss when at the Khuri Sand Dunes.
Sunset at desert
The vast expanse of the Khuri Sand Dunes stretches into the horizon. It is a unique adventure activity where you feel like a nomad wandering through the desert in search of an oasis. Campfires with folk dance at night are one of the main attractions in this region. During sunset the place becomes magical. Watching the sand dunes in the faint orange glow of the sun with the ballads of the legendary lovers playing in the background is bound to make you completely speechless.
“We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.” -John Hope Franklin
I have created a compiled video on Jaisalmer and in this video, I have shown you a complete Jaisalmer city view with all its hidden gems (best sunset and sunrise points), what to buy, where to eat and also some untouristed places.
I had a lasting impression on Jaisalmer. Even as the Jaisalmer fort became smaller in the mirror of the car, the impression on my mind made its mark forever.