The ‘Golden city of Rajasthan’, Jaisalmer is a paradise for art lovers, adventure seekers, and historians that lies in the heart of Thar desert. It’s a land where once the courageous rulers ruled and battles were fought. With so much of history, culture, and traditions all rolled into one, Jaisalmer is the best travel destination for your first trip. It’s a place where you can walk into the Arabian night’s tale and experience the magical land in its full grandeur. Watching shops swaddled with embroidery, puppet shows organized in the evening, majestic fort, kids playing in the sand, scorching heat of the desert, narrow lanes of yellow sandstone and knowing rich history will give you the reminiscent of our glorious past. Here’s what you need to know about Jaisalmer before venturing this desert city.
The roads leading to this magical city are well-connected with other cities and properly-maintained owing to the tourism industry. One can easily catch a local bus from any major bus stand in the state. Private bus operators can also take you to the city. If you want to save time, you can reach Jaisalmer via train from Jaipur. For a luxurious journey to this beautiful place, you can also opt for ‘Palace on Wheels” train. Regular flights are also flown from Delhi and Mumbai. To sum it up, you won’t face any problem related to transportation if you want to visit Jaisalmer.
Places to explore
Jaisalmer Fort: The fort with massive walls, grand chambers, and intricate carvings standing atop the hills dominates the skyline of the city. Nestled in the heart of the city, this majestic sandstone fort with 99 turrets is among one of the few living forts in the world that houses people and has shops, palace, hotels, and temples. Watching the skyline and panoramic view of the city will make you lose yourself in the beauty of this golden city.
Bada Bagh: Bada Bagh is a garden complex where the Rajput royals and their families were cremated. The place remains isolated most of the year. However, watching sunset and sunrise from here is something to cherish forever. Surrounded by mango trees this complex with chiselled pillars, yellow sandstone laden inscription is a treat to the eyes. The greenery amidst the desert is sure to leave you spellbound.
Patwon Ki Haweli: The place is said to be the first Haveli constructed in Jaisalmer and is a famous tourist attraction in the city. Built in a cluster of five, this haveli was a home of Patwa family. The intricate architecture of the Haveli is simply unparalleled making it a popular historical site. With arches, sidewalks, decorated walls, large suites, Patwon Ki Haveli is a sight to behold for any traveller.
Sam Sand Dunes: Located in the middle of Thar desert, Sam sand dunes is a powerhouse of adventure and fun. This golden yellow stretch of sand is a popular spot among tourists to watch sunset and sunrise. It is a place where Shutterbugs can work magic on their photography skills. There are endless exciting activities you can do here for a memorable time be it- camping, bonfire, and jeep safari. In February and March, the desert festival is organised here where you get to witness the culture of Rajasthan in its true form. Cultural events like folk dance, camel race, etc are held. To sum it up, Desert festival is the limelight of this place with a fusion of music, dance and colourful attires. On your way to this adventure land, make sure to visit Kuldhara, an alleged haunted place for a one-of-a-kind experience.
Jain Temples: Dating back to 12th and 15th century, these series of 7 Jain temples are dedicated to Rikhabdevji and Shambhavdev Ji, the famous Jain ‘Tirthankaras’. These temples are an important religious place for the followers of Jain religion. All of the seven temples are connected and built using same yellow sandstone. The architecture of these temples is inspired by the famous Dilwara temple of Mount Abu. If you seek peace and tranquillity, then visiting these temples in Jaisalmer is a must!
Gadisar Lake: The lake that was once the source of drinking water for the entire Bikaner has now turned into a mere tourist spot. Situated on the outskirts of Jaisalmer, this beautiful lake offers an enthralling and picturesque view of the adjacent fort, holy shrines, Chhatris and lake. It’s a perfect spot for a picnic where you can chill and enjoy some quality time with your loved ones.
Tanot Temple: If you’re on your way to Thar desert, then paying a visit to Tanot temple is a must. The legends associated with this temple will surely leave you baffled and curious. Tanot temple is a heritage site which is protected and maintained by the Border security force since infamous Indo-Pak war of 1971. Adjacent to the temple lies a museum where all the war artefacts’ and weapons are on display. Being close to the border of Pakistan, the place has witnessed the war and heavy shelling. As per the local folklore, during the war, every place near the border got affected except the temple which also gave shelter to the soldiers and saved their lives.
Kuldhara Village: If you love mysteries and spooky adventures, then the haunted ghost town of Kuldhara in Jaisalmer will definitely leave you stumped. This abandoned village has an interesting story associated with it. According to which, somewhere around 200 years ago, there lived a Diwan who was notoriously known for debauchery and unfair tax collection. Once his eyes were set on the beautiful daughter of the village head and he became hell-bent of having her. Due to this, he gave ultimate to the Paliwal community that he would levy heavy taxes on them if anyone came into his way of having the chief’s daughter. Fearing this, the entire community abandoned the town at night but no one saw the 1000 odd locals leave the village. It is said that while leaving the place, Paliwals cursed the place that the town will never become inhabitable. The eerie atmosphere of this haunted place can scare anyone to death.
Things to do
There are wide array of things to do in Jaisalmer that you won’t get bored with the city. You can watch the aerial view of the city from the top of the fort, indulge in activities like camping, jeep safari, quad biking, parasailing, food walk, sightseeing among others.
Camping in Desert: If camping in woods sounds too clichéd then you’d love Jaisalmer. There are plenty of amazing camping sites where you can enjoy your vacation amidst the desert. Cool right? Camping in the desert of Jaisalmer is the best way to know the culture and lives of the local people. It is an ideal way to enjoy a relaxing holiday with friends and family. The traditional Rajasthani food served by camps will take you back in medieval times.
Jeep Safari: Exploring the city on a 4X4 desert beast is no less than an adventure. The bumpy ride across Thar desert will shoot up your adrenaline. Safari at night is the best experience you can ever take while in Jaisalmer.
Quad Biking: Imagine the thrill-level when riding a quad motorbike through Thar like a superhero chasing a villain. If this calls out to your adventurous soul, then don’t miss a chance to experience this quest. Jaisalmer is the best city to pamper yourself and have a great time. You can also participate in dune bashing- the bigger version of quad biking for the ultimate adventure.
Parasailing: Parasailing is the ideal way to capture the soul of the city. The view when you’re 30 feet away from the ground and watching the golden sand, tiny houses, herds of sheep and camel, and campsites will blow your mind.
Food-walk tour: When in Rajasthan, you must forget fast food as the authentic Rajasthani food is quintessential enough to enhance your taste buds. You must opt for a food-walk tour to taste the spicy dishes of the state loaded with butter. Some dishes worth devouring in Jaisalmer are- Mirchi bada, bikaneri bhujiya, daal baati churma, gattey ki sabzi, lauki ke kofte among others.
Camel Ride: If you are exhausted of sightseeing on foot, you can take a break and enjoy a relaxing camel ride. Watching sunset, while exploring different places on a long stretch of sands is an enthralling experience that you won’t ever forget.
What to Buy from Jaisalmer?
Jaisalmer is popular for its leather items made from goatskin, embroidery silk and antique items. You can buy souvenirs for your folks from the colorful markets. Be it- bronze statues, silk shawl, artificial fashion jewelry, handicrafts, colorful puppets, showpieces, wooden artifacts you name it and Jaisalmer has got it!