‘One of the most visited places in Rajasthan, the dazzling city of Jaisalmer is revered for its incredible yellow stone architecture and royal heritage.’
Visiting the golden city of Jaisalmer in Thar Desert of Rajasthan is like being a part of an Arabian Nights tale. The city, a former medieval centre, is known for its structures built in yellow sandstone. Picture Perfect! The breathtaking fort of Jaisalmer stands as a testimony to the architectural splendour of the city. The twisted and inhabited lanes of the fort are home to shops selling splendid embroideries, a royal palace and numerous other businesses. Beneath the ramparts of the fort, there is a narrow street lined with havelis carved out of the same yellow sandstone just like the fort. Jaisalmer, though remote, invokes a charm that simply cannot be missed.
Jaisalmer Fort: Popularly called the Golden Fort of Jaisalmer, it was constructed by Raja Jaisal in the year 1156 AD. The fort with a beautiful mix of golden and yellow sandstone, ranks among the largest forts in the world. It has 99 turrets and is a classic example of Rajasthani architecture.
Nathmal ki Haveli: The haveli was built by two jeweller brothers. Both the brothers began their work from opposite sides of the building which resulted in similar but not identical left and right sides. The haveli is known for its extraordinary carvings and also for its beautiful interiors with paintings and modern facilities. Nathmal Haveli is an amalgamation of Islamic and Rajputana architecture and a must-visit during your trip to Jaisalmer.
Kuldhara: Once a prosperous town occupied by Paliwal Brahmins, Kuldhara lies in ruins and is an abandoned ghost town. The reason behind why the city was abandoned is still unknown, however it is believed that this happened because the then ruler of the region, Salim Singh, wanted to marry the village chief’s daughter. He challenged the village community to accept his demands or face dire consequences. The villagers decided to abandon the village rather than give in. They cursed that the place would never have any human settlement and since then the village is known as a ghost town.
Jaisalmer War Museum: Situated at the Jaisalmer military base, the museum commemorates the sacrifices of Indian soldiers. The exhibits pay tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives in the 1965 Indo-Pak War and 1971 Longewala Battle. The museum also has a number of captured tanks and other memorabilia from the battle. There is also an audio-visual room where movies about the battle are screened. The war memorial in the museum is replete with war trophies, tanks, murals of soldiers and other vintage equipment.
For the Adventure Enthusiast
Desert National Park: The park, formed by undulating sand dunes, jagged rocks, dense salt lake bottoms and intermedial areas is home to varied wildlife. One can spot various species of animals such as black buck, chinkara and desert fox here. One of the world’s heaviest flying birds, the highly endangered Great Indian Bustard can also be seen here. The park also hosts migratory raptors such Himalayan and Eurasian Griffon Vultures, Eastern Imperial Eagle, and the Saker Falcon in winter.
Camel Safari: When in Jaisalmer, exploring Thar Desert via the camel is a must. If you love travelling off-the-beaten track and want to see the rustic side of Rajasthan, opt for one-day camel tour around the desert. One can also go for an overnight stay in the villages.
Camping in the Desert: A visit to Jaisalmer is incomplete without a stay at the desert camp. One can enjoy a wonderful evening amidst sand dunes while enjoying the cultural performances and savouring traditional Rajasthani cuisine.
For the Shopoholic
When in Jaisalmer, shop for intricately carved wooden boxes, traditional rugs, hand woven blankets and shawls in typical Rajasthani colour and weave. All these can be picked from the bylanes inside Jaisalmer fort that are home to numerous smallshops selling traditional goods. For souvenirs for your dear ones,opt for mirror work, embroideries, silver jewellery, trinkets and curios. Some of the famous shopping destinations of Jaisalmer are Sadar Bazaar, Sonaron ka Bass, Manak Chowk, Bhatia Bazaar and Pansari Bazaar.
Words: Kritika Dhawan