Jaisalmer is a
popular tourist destination, one of the most important in India. It is a
pretty enough place but exactly what is it about this far-flung desert
town that makes the tourist make the long journey there? Jaisalmer is a
phenomenal 900 kilometres from Delhi and no closer than 275 kilometres
from Jodhpur, the nearest big city. The weather is either
hot or pretty cold given that Jaisalmer is located in the desert region
of Rajasthan. Besides, it's very close to the trouble-prone Indian
border with Pakistan. And yet, none of this deters the tourist; if you
don't believe this, consider the stats - one foreign tourist out of
three visits Jaisalmer. You look into your guide book, ponder the
information and still wonder what makes this place such a hot
Here are the facts. Jaisalmer lies in the heart of
the Thar Desert near Rajasthan's remote western border, surrounded by
sand dunes. It would be just any Rajasthani town but, looming over the
city, towering nearly 100 metres over the city and apparently rising out
of the desert haze, is the spectacular golden Jaisalmer Fort. Made of
yellow sandstone, the fort inspires wonder at its beauty like perhaps
none other in India. It has the appearance of a giant sandcastle
shimmering in the desert heat like a mirage that will soon disappear.
Contrary to expectation though, the Jaisalmer Fort is a living breathing
entity. The fort actually functions as intended, and is still the site
of an entire living area, home to a quarter of the city's population.
modern Jaisalmer has a medieval feel to it - 'jharokhas' look down into
cobbled streets, veiled women walk a pace behind their turbaned,
strapping moustachioed men folk; undulating sand dunes and camel trains
drink from an ancient water trough in the main market square. Hardly
surprising that Jaisalmer retains an untouched aura, given its remote
location and inaccessibility. To travel to Jaisalmer was a tough call
till the first proper road was built only in 1958 and the town found a
place on India's railway map barely 30 years ago. Now there's even an
airport, which serves air traffic from Delhi and Bombay, but the essence
of Jaisalmer as a place in a historical coffee book remains untouched by
these developments.Attractions in Jaisalmer
- Jaisalmer Fort
The golden hued fort is a sentinel to
the bleak desertscape from its 80 metre high perch on the
hill,housing the entire township within its ramparts.It has an
enchanting cow-web of narrow lanes dotted with some lovely
havelis,three beautifully sculptured Jain Temples of the 12th-15th
century A.D. and five interconnected palaces.The fort is approached
through four gateways-Akhaiyal,Ganesh Pol,Suraj Pol and Hava Pol.
- Manak Chowk and Havelis
A main marketplace outside
the fort leads to the narrow lanes dotted with famous havelis.
- Gadsisar Lake
A scenic rain water lake with numerous
beautiful shrines around and a spectacular avian variety. The lake
is an idyllic spot for outings.
- Tazia Tower
A pagoda like structure looming up from
the Badal Mahal with beautiful Taazias-ornately
decorated bamboo,paper and tinsel replicas of a bier, carried out in
procession during Moharram by the Muslims.
Some of the most exotic mansions or
havelis,all intricately latticed are strew all over Jaisalmer-each
with a different facade.
The late 19th century haveli with
intricate architecture a display of sheer craftsmanship. The left
and right wings of the mansion which were carved by two brothers are
not identical but very similar and balanced in design. The interior
walls are ornate with splendid miniature paintings.
- Patwon -ki-Haveli
The most elaborate and magnificent
of all the Jaisalmer havelis. It has exquisitely carved pillars and
extensive corridors and chambers.One of the apartments of this five
storey high haveli is painted with beautiful murals.
- Salim Singh-ki-Haveli
This 300 year old haveli of
Jaisalmers Prime Minister to Maharaja Rawal Gaj Singh-Salim
Singh, has a beautiful blue cupola roof with superbly carved
brackets in the form of peacocks.This extraordinary mansion in
yellow stone is covered with intricate carvings and has an elaborate
projecting balcony on the top storey.The mansion is one of the most
notable of the array of havelis.
- Jain Temple
The fort has three exquisitely carved
jain temples dedicated to the Jain
Tirthankars-Rishabhdev,Sambhavnath and Paraswanath.
- Gyan Bhandar or Library
Some of the oldest
manuscripts of India are found in this library established as a part
of Jain temples.