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Jaisalmer

Founded by the Bhatti Rajput chieftain Rawal Jaisal in the year 1156, Jaisalmer is an important city of the western state of India, Rajasthan. It is popular for camel safaris & it's living "Golden Fort". It was a major trading center in the medieval times. In medieval times, its prosperity was due to its location on the main trade route linking India to Egypt, Arabia, Persia, Africa and the West. The glory of Jaisalmer faded when sea trade replaced the old land routes. But there is still an 'Arabian Nights' quality about the town. The narrow streets in the walled city preserve a traditional way of life : the craftsmen still work at the ancient crafts of weaving and stone carving, the making of silver jewellery and embroidery. And the stately, nonchalant camel is everywhere. The perfect time to visit the golden city is during the Desert Festival. Jaisalmer is popularly known as 'Golden City' due to the extensive use of yellow sandstone that glows under the setting sun.

Fairs and Festivals


The Desert Festival takes place in January-February of each year. Camel races and dances, folk music, desert ballads, puppeteers - they're all part of the activity. At the full moon night, a sound and light drama is performed at Sam.

Shopping

Jaisalmer is famous for mirror work, embroidered articles, woollen pattu and other items made of good quality, locally produced wood, wooden boxes, trinklets, silver jewellery and curios. The main shopping areas are Sadar Bazaar and Sonaron Ka Bas, Manak Chowk, Pansari Bazaar and also Rajasthali - Government shop for handicrafts and Khadi Gramodyog.

How to reach

By Train

Jaisalmer is 290 km from Jodhpur via Pokhran, Dechu and Balesar or 330 km from Bikaner via Pokhran and Phalodi. It is well connected by train with Jodhpur and other major cities of the country by a meter gauge line.

By Road
A good network of roads joins Jaisalmer with Jodhpur and many other destinations in and around Rajasthan.

Distance from Jaisalmer to :
Bikaner 330 Km
Bhenswara 360 Km
Barmer 155 Km
Phalodi 165 Km
Gajner 289 Km
Jodhpur 280 Km
Khimsar 320 Km
Khuri 50 Km
Manwar 170 Km
Osian 245 Km
Pokran 110 Km
Rohet 335 Km
Sam 40 Km

Climate

Jaisalmer has got extreme climate. Best time to visit from October to February.

Jaisalmer at a glance :
Area 126.27 sq. km
Population 46,500
Altitude 250 m above sea level
Languages Marwari, Rajasthani, English and Hindi
Best Time to Visit October-March
STD Code 02992
Festive Attraction Desert Festival

Places of Interest

Forts and Palaces
The Jaisalmer Fort
Manak Chowk and Havelis
Patwon Ki Haveli
Salim Singh Ki Haveli
Nathmal Ki Haveli

Lakes
Gadsisar Sagar Tank

Temples
Jain Temples

Museums
Gyan Bhandar or Library
The Desert Culture Centre and Museum
Jaisalmer Folklore Museum
Jaisalmer - Government Museum

Places of Interest around Jaisalmer

Cities
Akal (16 kms from Jaisalmer)
Barmer (153 kms from Jaisalmer )
Lodurva (17 kms from Jaisalmer)
Khuri Village (40 Km)
Manvar
Pokhran (112 Km)
Lodruva (15 km)
Kuldhera
Khurri and Samm
Ramdeora and Kheechan

Wildlife
Desert National Park (40 km from Jaisalmer)

Gardens
Bada Bagh (6 km from Jaisalmer)

Museums
Camel Safaris
Sam Sand Dunes (42 km from Jaisalmer)

Forts and Palaces

The Jaisalmer Fort

The golden - hued Jaisalmer Fort 'Sonar Kila' is located on the top of the Trikuta Hill and it is visible from a distance of about 15 kilometres from Jaisalmer. From a distance, the Jaisalmer fort seemed to be rising from the heart of the Thar Desert. The ramparts, bastions and the long-stretching walls of the fort dazzle gloriously during early morning and at sunset. Clothes, quilt and puppet shops dot the stone path to the courtyard. Atop the fort, stand two cannons, least intimidating. The view of the entire toy-like golden town was enchanting.

Manak Chowk and Havelis
A main marketplace outside the fort leads to the narrow lanes dotted with famous 'havelis'.

Patwon Ki Haveli
The Patwon ki haveli is the grandest mansion in Jaisalmer, having ceiling supported by exquisitely carved pillars. The delicately chiselled balconies and extensive corridors and chambers of this haveli also present an impressive sight.

Salim Singh Ki Haveli
Located at the eastern end of the city, the Salim Singh ki Haveli is an interesting site to visit in Jaisalmer. Built around 300 year ago, this haveli belonged to Salim Singh, the Prime Minister to then Maharaja of Jaisalmer, Maharaja Rawal Gaj Singh. The Salim Singh ki Haveli is characterised by yellow stone that is covered with intricate carvings, elaborate balcony and beautiful blue cupola roof.

Nathmal Ki Haveli
Nathmal-ki-Haveli is the third of its kind supposedly built in AD 1885. Characterised by intricate architecture and craftsmanship, it belonged to later-day prime minister Nathmal, who gifted it to the Rawal. The haveli has two wings left and right, which were carved by two brothers with splendid miniature paintings. The jharokhas are the speciality of the haveli as they seem to emerge from a book of poetry because of the fine stone carvings.

Lakes

Gadsisar Sagar Tank

A scenic rain water lake with numerous beautiful shrines around. The lake is an idyllic spot for outings. The sight of countless birds flocking over the water is enchanting here.

Temples

Jain Temples

Within the palace there were three exquisitely carved Jain temples dedicated to the Jain Tirthankaras- Rishabhdev, Sambhavnath and Parshwamnath. There was also a library with a huge collection of some extremely old manuscripts.

Museums

Gyan Bhandar or Library

Some of the oldest manuscripts of India are found in this library established as a part of Jain temples.

The Desert Culture Centre and Museum
The Desert Culture Centre and Museum is another important place to visit in Jaisalmer. One can see a good collection of historical as well as contemporary objects of interest here giving a clear insight into past and present of the place. The museum has a good collection of old coins, different kinds of textiles, traditional Rajasthani instruments and some fossils discovered in the desert.

Jaisalmer Folklore Museum
Situated on the bank of Gadsisar lake in Mehar Bagh garden, this museum was established in 1984 by N.K.Sharma, a local connoisseur. The museum divided into six sections and has a rich collection of paintings, photographs, costumes, hairstyles and jewellry, utility articles of rural life, camel and horse decorations, fossils, ornamental arches, as well as articles connected with folk and cultural lifestyles.

Jaisalmer - Government Museum
The Govt. museum in Jaisalmer was opened in 1984 and is situated on Police Line Road near Moomal Hotel. It houses a large collection of wood and marine fossils and gives an insight into the geological past of the area. Sculptures from the ancient townships of Kiradu and Lodurva dating back to the 12th century pulsate with youth and grace and depict the skill of the time.

Places of Interest around Jaisalmer

Cities

Akal (16 kms from Jaisalmer)

This is the site having the fossilized remains of a 180 million years old forest.

Barmer (153 Km from Jaisalmer)
Barmer is situated at a distance of 224 km from Jodhpur on the Luni-Munabao section of the Northern Railways. Located atop a hill as so many of the cities of western Rajasthan are, it houses the remains of an old fort called Garh right on its peak. The name Barmer is derived from the ruler Bahada Rao or Bar Rao who is said to have founded the town in the 13th century. Initially called 'Bahada-mer' it was later shortened to Barmer. To the immediate west of the city lie the remains of Juna or Juna Barmer and to the south are the ruins of three Jain temples. There is an inscription dated 1295AD on one of the pillars of the hall of the largest temple at Juna. This mentions a Maharajakula Sri Samanta Sinha Deva ruling Barmer at the time. Being a barren wasteland, the people of Barmer have learnt the hard way that they needed to develop exceptional skills in order to survive. Barmer is known for its folk music and dance. There are several major festivals held in Barmer, the most famous of which is a cattle fair held every year at Tilwara village situated on the banks of the Luni river. The fair goes on for a fortnight in the months of March April. The other major festival is the Barmer Thar Festival, which was a creation of the tourist office, started as a practice to enhance the tourism potential of this town. This festival too is held in early March every year. A major yearly religious fair is held at Khed on every Poornima (full moon) at the Ranchor Rai Mandir there. Another fair is held at a village called Nagar Meva which is about 8 km from the town of Balotara. There is a Jain temple there dedicated to the Jain prophet Parasvanath, and the fair is held every year on Posh Badi (Dec-Jan) to celebrate his birth. The town has population around 67000 and its STD Code is 02982.

Khuri Village (40 Km)
The village is known for its camel rides, shifting sand dunes that are about 80 metres high and exceptionally beautiful sunset, which could be followed by an exclusive dinner. One can also experience the desert solitude and beautifully decorated houses of mud and straw.

Manvar
The place is famous for its amazing mustard and red chilli fields in the middle of the desert, craftsmen at work, cobblers making jutti, unexplored sand dunes, desert fox, chinkara, peacocks, desert camp with all the facilities, camel safaris and the sunset. A stay in a traditional farmer's hut here gives a glimpse of rural Rajasthan.

Pokhran (112 Km)
Pokhran is famous as a place where India conducted its nuclear tests. India conducted its first nuclear test here on 18 May 1974. Later on 11 May 1998 India carried out five more nuclear tests here. However, Pokhran also attracts the attention as a tourist spot. Located just 112 kilometres from Jaisalmer, the place has some interesting mythological legends related to it. According to the legend, Ram once fitted his bow with a powerful arrow, which generated great heat, in order to dry up the seas of Sri Lanka. Cajoled not to do so, he instead fired it into the mythical river Saraswati as a result of which the river dried up making the place a barren desert The Maheshwari havelis, colourful Rajasthani dresses, cenotaphs and temples and the Pokhran Museum are some of the other sites that one can see in Pokhran.

Lodruva (15 km)
This is the former capital of the Jaisalmer kings that was attacked several times by Islamic invaders. It now has a beautiful Jain temple with eqxuisite sculptures and ornate torana.

Kuldhera
A haunting village deserted en masse by its Paliwal residents in one night some 400 years ago due to the immoral intentions of the Prime Minister of Jaisalmer at that time. The ruins are now a great tourist attraction.

Khurri and Samm
Just a short drive from Jaisalmer are the ideal stretches of perfect sand dunes perfect for camel safaris and watching sunsets.

Ramdeora and Kheechan
Though not near Jaisalmer, these places do come on the way while traveling to Jaisalmer. Ramdeora has the shrine of Baba Ramdev and is the site of a colorful fair every year. Kheechan village near Phalodi town attracts large numbers of migratory Demoiselle Cranes every winter.

Wildlife

Desert National Park (40 km from Jaisalmer)

A large area of Thar Desert has been declared National Park to protect the amazingly large variety of animals found here. The Desert National Park is an excellent example of the ecosystem of the Thar desert and its diverse fauna. Sand dunes form around 20% of the Park. The major landform consists of craggy rocks and compact salt lake bottoms, intermedial areas and fixed dunes which are quite suitable for the chinkara to move at high speed. The blackbuck is another common antelope of this region. Its other notable inhabitants are the desert fox, Bengal fox, wolf and desert cat. Sudashri forest post is the ideal place for observing the wildlife of Desert National Park and is the most suitable in the entire 3162 sq. kms. of this park for watching and photographing the activities of the animals from behind cover. Birdlife in this sandy habitat is vivid and spectacular. Birds such as the sandgrouse, partridges, bee-eaters, larks and shrikes are commonly seen. Demoiselle crane and houbara arrive in the winter. The birds of prey seen here are tawny and steppe eagles, long legged and honey buzzards, falcons and kestrels. But the most outstanding of the avifauna is the great Indian bustard. This tall, heavy bird is an epitome of confidence and grace. It is good to see five or six bustards near Sudashri water hole. This park is also very rich in reptiles. Spiny tail lizard, monitor lizard, saw sealed viper, Russel's viper, Sind krait, toad agama and sandfish are found in large numbers.

Gardens

Bada Bagh (6 km from Jaisalmer)

A fertile oasis on the bank of an artificial lake. Much of the city's fruits and vegetables are grown here. Surrounded by dense trees are the royal cenotaphs with beautifully carved ceilings and equestrian statues of the former rulers.

Others

Camel Safaris
These are conducted on many routes.

Sam Sand Dunes (42 km from Jaisalmer)

Located at a distance of 42 kilometres from Jaisalmer, Sam Sand Dunes is the closest point to witness the total sandy desert. One can see the patterns and motifs created by the shifting sands and air. Moreover, Sam Sand Dunes also provide you with an unforgettable experience of camel rides and the sunset.