It’s the ‘Golden City’ in this majestic land of kings, exquisite palaces, forts & more…one that’s straight out of an Arabian Nights fable. Sounds interesting? Read up on this golden gem in the Thar Desert.

Jaisalmer, yet another exquisite attraction that Rajasthan has for its tourists, a city known for its colorfully clad  joyful desert people, one that is known for its havelis, forts, sand dunes and camel rides.

Founded in 1156 A.D by Rawal Jaisal, a Rajput king,  Jaisalmer is a town with a grand past,  and a rich heritage, which is even today mirrored in its lifestyles  and festivals. Home to some of Rajasthan’s most magnificent monuments, though historical monuments are scattered all over the city, the Jaisalmer Fort here is one that immediately commands your attention and transports you a mesmerizing city.

Standing about 100 m over the city, this 12th century fort also known as Sonar Quila, crowns the Trikuta Hill. Rising from the desert sands, it merges with the golden hues of the desert ambience, the setting sun giving it a fairy tale appearance.

Housing a fortress within its huge walls, inside this massive fort one can find the palace complex, the intricately carved havelis of rich merchants, several temples and residential complexes of armies and traders. The Jain temple also situated inside the fort is a place worth visiting. Built between the 12th and 15th century, it is known for its unique Rajasthani artistry.  The havelis here boast of intricate craftsmanship and are beyond comparison, known for their intricate latticework and bracket-shaped decoration of peacocks; some must visits include the Patwon-ki-Haveli and Salim-Singh-ki-Haveli. Today owners of these private havelis along with the Department of Archaeology have taken over the task of preserving the murals and art treasures on some of the most noted havelis here.

Another must visit inside the Jaisalmer Fort are its Jain Temples, which are said to be very old and have archeological value attached to them. Dating back to the 12th and 15th centuries, these temples are dedicated to various Jain Tirthankars (Hermits), and are known for their architecture – similar to the Dilawara temples of Mt.Abu. Here one can find several carvings of animals & human figures and like all other structures in Jaisalmer, these temples too are craved of yellow sandstones. The Astapadhi Temples that are situated in the same complex are a must visit too.

Also found on the campus is the Gyan Bhandar library, a wonderful place to view, are some rare manuscripts available in India

The most beautiful and also the oldest Jain Temple here is the Parswanath Temple, with exquisite carvings of animals and humans decorating the walls of its sanctum, is its dome,  crowned by an amalak and a waterpot containing a lotus flower.

One the ancient capital of Bhattis, Lodurva was a flourishing city that lost most of the splendor when the Bhattis shifted their capital to Jaisalmer. The Jain temples here are nevertheless worth visiting. Built from bright yellow sandstones, though the temples are in ruins, their splendors are clearly visible. These temples are known for their beautiful paintings of Lord Parsvanath, the 23rd Jain Tirthankar, that decorate the walls. The Jaali works and the arches are truly pieces of art.

For a clear insight to this beautiful place, the Desert Culture Center and Museum is a place worth visiting. Here visitors can find a number of old coins, traditional Rajasthani instruments, different kinds of textiles, even fossils that were found in the desert.

Built by a courtesan, the Gadsisar Sagar Tank is a wonderful place for an outing. It is  flanked by shrines and well laid out gardens and flower beds. Once the source of water for the entire city, today the place is known for the numerous migratory birds that flock to this place during the winters.

Literally translating ‘Big Garden’, the Baba Bagh is an oasis at the bank of a man-made dam, providing greenery all around. Here one can find a pillar (Govardhan Stambh) constructed to commemorate the construction of the Dam and the tank. In local dialect the Dam and the tank are known as Jait Bandh and the Jait Sar respectively, believed to be named after the person who constructed them. Built out of solid blocks of stone, the Jait Bandh is a dominating structure, about 1,200 feet in length and 350 feet in width.

Adjacent to a 17th Century palace called the Amar Singh Palace, built by Maharawal Akhai Singh in honor of one of his predecessors Amar Singh, is a small but beautiful lake cum Oasis called Amar Sagar. A five storey haveli constructed here is famous for its delicate murals and old Shiva temple in the complex.

A trip to the Desert National Park will take you to what’s considered not only the largest in the state of Rajasthan but among the largest in India. Found here is vegetation that survives in dry and arid soil, such as cactus, thorny trees and shrubs that grow easily without being taken care of. One can also see a few animal species like the monitor lizard, desert foxes, porcupines and black bucks, etc. This place is also known to attract large hoard of migratory birds due to its close proximity to Bharatpur.

Delighting kids and adults alike is a fossil park 17 km from Jaisalmer along the road to Barmer that takes you back to pre-historic times! The fossil park stands where a forest stood 180 million years ago. Found here are fossilized remains of tree trunks of various sizes with the largest being 13 meters in length and 1.5 meters in width.

Last but not the least is a visit to the Sam Sand Dunes, the closest point to witness the total sandy desert. Located at a distance of 42 kilometers from Jaisalmer, this is an unforgettable experience, where one can enjoy camel rides, sunsets, and also see the patterns and motifs created by the shifting sands and air. Khuri, is another impressive place in this glittering golden sand, known for its mud houses and straw roofs.

Just outside the fort is the Manakchowk, the famous marketplace of Jaisalmer, a great place to bargain if you’re looking at carrying back some local products. Shopping in Jaisalmer is truly a fascinating experience, as the narrow lanes here still retain a medieval charm. Look out for embroidery work, blankets, Rajasthani mirror work, rugs, antiques and old stonework that Jaisalmer is famous for.

Also making good souvenirs are the puppets and joothies (handmade leather shoes), camel leather items, beautiful fabrics, woven jackets, and wooden boxes found here. While the intricately designed ornaments of Jaisalmer are irresistible, another popular item available here are the bandhini (tie and dye) fabrics. A shopper’s paradise, do visit Jaisalmer Embroidery House and the Kahdi Gramudyog Bhavan for handicrafts.

While there are hotels here to suit every budget, the heritage hotels here are a must mention as they transport you to the bygone days of a glorious past.

Described as the ‘Golden city of India’ Jaisalmer can be easily assessed by road, rail or air. While its airport is located 5km from the city center, the nearest railhead at Jodhpur is well connected to other major cities of India.

A beautiful city, the best time to visit this Golden paradise is during the camel fair, also known as the desert fair, where one can get a true feel of the place, when this golden city sparkles with its amazing camel dances, camel races, folk dance and music.

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