“It is not only the sand that is golden in Jaisalmer but this city has a golden heart and history too.”
With nine century old fort telling the royal stories and marvelous Havelis echoing the sound from the past, you are bound to be mesmerized by this city nicknamed as ‘The Golden City’. You will be humbled with its rich heritage, simple and down to earth people and the vastness of its desert and are going to miss those moments even after returning from Jaisalmer. Based on our experience , here is the list of top 8 things that you can explore on your Jaisalmer trip –
1. Jaisalmer Fort: Jewel of Desert Land
Made of yellow sandstone and with a fortified wall of five kilometers, Jaisalmer fort stands tall on top of a hill and is easily visible even from a far off point. It is a live fort with entire population of Jaisalmer stayed inside it at one point. With time, people moving outside, there are still around 4000 people who stay inside the fort. There is also a Museum and Jain temples inside the fort. Views from the periphery of the fort are stunning with whole Jaisalmer city unfolding in front of you as you sit next to those old yet impressive canons.
2. Richness of Jaisalmer Havelis
Jaisalmer has a number of old havelis and they are impressive not only in the scale but also the intricate details of their stone work. Salim Singh ki Haweli and Nathmal ji ki Haweli are superb but Patwon ki Haweli, situated in a narrow street, tops the list. As you walk upstairs in this five-storey building, a marvelous history through its architecture and artifacts is bound to engulf your senses.
3. Calmness of Gadisar Lake
Be it any time of the day, you will have a sense of utter calmness at Gadisar lake. Sit by the side of the lake or inside the temple on the bank, it is all calm and peaceful. You can also try boating or feed fishes in the lake.
4. Sun set at Sam Sand Dunes
Your visit to Jaisalmer can not be marked completed if you do not visit to its sand dunes. For us, it was our first touch of the desert as we reached Sam Sand Dunes, on the outskirts of Jaisalmer (~36 kilometers). There are many desert camps who provide accommodation on these sand dunes along with local Rajasthani cultural programs. You can go to a far off sand dune to watch the sun setting behind you in solitude and then sleep under the sky gazing the twinkling stars.
5. Go for Camel Safari
It is an experience in itself as you sit on top of a camel holding tight and then your heart comes to your mouth as camel gets up pushing you to the front. You really have to put all your power and tighten your grip to avoid falling off. But, once you are set and camel is up, it is such a pleasure to move back and forth as this ship of desert takes you to far off sand dunes. Be it on sand dunes or inside Jaisalmer city, you will find ample Camel Safari options who will give you a quick ride charging anything from 50 to 200 rupees.
6. Secrets of Kuldhara Village
Kuldhara village, en route Sam Sand dunes, has its own secrets which no one knows till date. Kuldhara is one of 84 medieval villages which were abandoned by Paliwal Brahmins overnight. There are children from nearby villages who serve as guide and tell you quick 10 minute story (charging 10 rupees only) of how a Diwan of Jaisalmer (Salim Singh) wanted to forcefully marry the daughter of village chief and then whole village vanished overnight leaving everything behind. No one knows the truth behind these stories but this place is still considered to be cursed by locals.
7. Jain Temples of Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer is also famous for rich heritage of its Jain temples. Jain Temples inside the Jaisalmer Fort date back to 12th and 15th century and have preserved old manuscripts. You may request the priest who can take you for a quick tour to a basement room where old coins, statues and manuscripts are still preserved. Aman Sagar jain Temple is another beautiful temple that you can visit en route Sam Sand dunes and Kuldahara Village.
8. Jaisalmer Desert festival
Best time to visit Jaisalmer is during its famous Desert Festival. It is an amazing 3-day festival which is organized every year in the month of February. Vibrant with colours and cultural competitions, these festivities mesmerize locals and tourists alike as different facets of Rajasthani culture unfold on a sand dune stage under the full moon light. While traditional dances, cultural competitions, camel races and dare devil acrobatics mark the first 2 days, festival ends on a full moon night with folk dance and music display at Sam Sand dunes.
We visited Jaisalmer during Desert Festival only and you can find our experience of the Desert Festival here. Jaisalmer offers a wonderful mix of experiences to keep you completely engaged. Do enjoy your desert experience and as we always say, Happy Exploration !!