Jaisalmer,  Rajasthan

“Jaisalmer…” the city which has the only ‘Living Fort’ in India..

“🙏🙏🙏 Padharo Mhare Desh… 🙏🙏🙏”… is a local phrase of Rajasthan which means ‘Welcome to my land’. Yes, Jaisalmer, the sparkling colourful city embraces you with their rich culture, affability and commendable hospitality. It is the city, which has the only living fort in India. The elegance of Rajput life style, great etiquette, and marvelous architecture will make you crazy and will drag you to come to the city again and again. The whole city is shrouded by their ethnic culture. The captivating beauty of the city is very difficult to describe in words. To experience the royal culture and the alluring city life, you must visit the ‘Golden City’ of India, “Jaisalmer”. I assure you that the charming beauty of ‘Jaisalmer’ will never fade from your memory.

Sonar Kella

Jaisalmer, also known as ‘Golden City ‘of India, has a distinctive place in the heart of all travelers because of its rich culture, marvelous architecture, and intricate design. It is one of the most elegant, gorgeous and immensely beautiful city of Rajasthan. It is the most precious and exquisite jewel of India, whose shimmering beauty attracts travelers from all over the world.

Google Map Location

The city is founded by King Maharawal Jaisal Singh and thus the city was named as ‘Jaisalmer’. It is a place of splendid architectural wonders. The exquisite handicrafts, scrumptious local cuisine, camel ride in Thar Desert, breathtaking shimmering golden fort, magnificently adorned havelis, local folk music and dance drag the tourist from all over the world. Due to extensive use of yellow sandstone in the construction of forts and buildings, havelis and homes, the city sparkles like gold and gained its popularity as Golden City.

The traditional puppet show, the Ghoomar dance and music, camel festival, desert tent stays etc. are all an integral part of the Rajasthani culture. The Kalbeliya dance of Jaisalmer is world famous. Staying in the desert city is an unforgettable experience. There is a influx of tourist from all over the world. Each and every corner of the city reflects its indigenous culture. 

So, to experience the royal culture, we decided to spend our Durga puja vacation (October 2019), in different parts of Rajasthan. We started our journey from Jaisalmer, visited Jodhpur and ended up in Jaipur.

Day 01

We boarded Sealdah Rajdhani train and landed Delhi on morning. As our train from Jaisalmer to Delhi was in the evening, we got ample time to explore some of the famous monument of our capital. So, we hired a cab from the station and decided to visit India gate, lotus temple and other famous monuments of the city.

Within 3.30 pm we reached Delhi station and boarded our train to Jaisalmer at evening. The train journey was very comfortable and we slept well at night.

Day 02

We reached Jaisalmer station around 1pm. The culture of Rajasthan has been portrayed very well in Jaisalmer station. The entire station area is beautifully decorated and there is ample space at the entrance of the station. We booked our cab from the resort and driver dada was waiting for us outside the station.

At a road side restaurant we completed our lunch with the famous local cuisine” Dal bati Churma”. For the first time we tasted this. When the waiter brought the thali, I was searching for bowl as in Bengal bati means bowl, but couldn’t find it. Then I asked the waiter where the bati is?? He smiled and replied that bati is like a stuffed puri. Then I realized what bati really is.

Its taste is amazing. The stuffing of the Bati is very heavy. So I couldn’t enjoy it more than one piece. After completing lunch, we started our journey again.

After few minutes of journey, desert area started. On the road we saw some beautiful ornate homes focusing the majestic architecture of Rajasthan. There were windmills also.

About Thar Desert
It is also known as ‘Great Indian Desert which creates a natural boundary between India and Pakistan. It is one of the world largest deserts. About 85% of the desert falls in India and 15% in Pakistan.  About 60% of the desert of India lies in Rajasthan.
 The soil of the desert remains dry for almost the year and is prone to wind erosion. Here, wind blows with high velocity due to which sands get deposited in the neighboring part.
It is the most densely populated desert in the world. In Rajasthan, about 40% of its population lives in the desert. Agriculture and animal husbandry are the main occupation of the people living in the desert.

Overall the journey towards the resort was pleasant and we reached the resort around 3.30pm. Our package booking at Sam and Dune resort was done 2 months earlier. The package includes food, lodging and camel ride.  The resort is very beautiful, neat and clean and well decorated. There is a big swimming pool. The blue water of the pool will drag you to jump over it.

We stayed at the beautiful tent. The timing for camel ride was from 5 pm. So, we freshened up quickly and got ready for the real desert adventure.

Camel ride at Thar Desert

The best way to enjoy the desert is on the back of a dromedary. So, our magical journey to the amazing Thar Desert started with camel ride.

When I saw the camel standing in front of us, I just couldn’t understand how I hill climb up to his top? But the camel instructor guided us properly and helped us to mount the camel.  I felt very scary and started screaming. The instructor assured us there is no need to be afraid.

As per the guidance of the instructor, the camel started moving with long steps.

I also started to enjoy the ride. But I tumbled on the descent as I didn’t hold the saddle tightly. You will have to be very careful about this. Don’t forget to hold the saddle tightly. 

And within few minutes, we reached the stunning dunes.Our instructor helped us to get down from the camel. The sun was getting ready to set. The spectacular vibrant views of nature made me aghast.

I can’t stop clicking my lens though I am not a professional photograph. But I tried hard to capture each and every moment of the changing of color of the sun. 

There were local folk who were singing and dancing wearing colorful Rajasthani attire.  We also participated with them. The fascinating beauty of the whole atmosphere was very appealing.  

The beautiful sunset taught me that there is always a ray of hope for a better tomorrow and we can bring happiness in our life despite of many obstacles. We can make our life beautiful with our positive thoughts. “

We returned from the desert safely. The resort organizes cultural event from 7 pm every evening. There were evening snacks also. The cultural event was fabulous. The local folks were singing and dancing in Rajasthani attire. They danced over a thali, the famous dance of Rajasthan. The sound of the instrument, the beautiful voice of the singer, the stunning dance of them, will compel you to shake your body following their rhythm.

After the fascinating cultural event, dinner was served. In daily meals, I generally prefer non-veg meal. But after tasting their scrumptious vegetarian thali, I became great fan of them.

After dinner, we sat under the star, looking aghast on the beautiful sky. Nature is the most beautiful thing in the universe.

Tips for camel ride
1.     While mounting in camel, lean yourself back.
2.     When the camel stands up, hold the saddle tightly and firmly and lean back.
3.     Don’t forget to hold the saddle while the camel is moving.
4.     Slather sunscreen before the ride. Use sun-glass and carry water.
Cover your head with scarf otherwise sun rays will beat you like hammer

Day 03

On the next morning we experienced the bumpy jeep ride to witness the beautiful sunrise.

It was another marvelous experience. The sun rays seemed like kissing the sand. The sand becomes sparkling gold during sunrise. The serenity of the desert embraced my consciousness.

There was a tea stall amidst in the Desert.

We returned from the desert around 8 am and completed our breakfast and got ready for exploring the Golden City of India. Our target was to complete the four places, namely Jaisalmer Fort / Sonar Kela, Patwon ki haveli, Mandir palace and Gadisar Lake.

About Sam and Dunes
It is a resort with tent facilities near to Thar desert. They organize camel and jeep rides in the desert. The cultural event organized by them is very entertaining which comprises local dance and song by trained performer.
Prior booking can be done from their website where detailed information regarding the whole package is available. It is a wonderful resort and their hospitality is truly commendable. The link of the site is given below.

http://www.samsanddunesdesertsafarijaisalmer.com/

Sightseeing

i)Jaisalmer fortOur first destination was Jaisalmer fort. It is also known as ‘Sonar Kella’. It is a UNESCO World heritage site.

There is a sentimental attachment of all Bengali’s with Sonar Kella. This immensely beautiful fort has an especial place in the heart of all Begali’s. The world famous film director Satyajit Ray directed his classic film ‘Sonar Kella’.  This is a very famous Bengali film and we grew up by watching the film for many times. It is almost every Bengali’s dream destination to come here.

The dilapidated house of ” Nokul” from the Bengali film Sonar Kella

I was astonished when I first saw the massive golden structure. I was feeling lucky that I got the opportunity to experience the world that the great film director Satyajit Ray portrayed in his film.

It is built in 1155AD by Rajput Rawal Jaisal and it is the second oldest fort in RajasthanIt is built by yellow sand stone which fades its colour to honey-gold during sunsets.

The fort is 1500ft long and 750ft wide with a height that raises 250ft above the surrounding area. The whole fort is protected by 15ft tall wall. It has four gateways. The fort is made with yellow sand stone.

Guides are available to take you for a tour of the fort. If you don’t want to take guide, then you can opt for headphone guidance. It is one of the living forts in the world. Nearly 1/4th of the old city’s population still resides here. There are numerous havelies and palaces inside the fort and rickshaw, autos are also available. 

There are many museums, one of them is Baa Ri Haveli.

A beautifully decorated corner in the haveli has been provided for the tourist where they can do photo shoot.

Inside the fort
i)          The Raj Mahal Palace, former residence of Maharawal of Jaisalmer is located inside the fort.
ii)         There are seven Jain temples also.
iii)        The famous Laxminath temple, dedicated to worship gods Lakshmi and Vishnu is located here.
iv)       Numerous havelis with ornate balconies, decorated door and window, archways, some of which are more than 100 years old.
v)        The drainage system of the fort is called ghut nali which helps in removing the rain water from the fort.

There are enormous eateries and shops inside the fort. Varieties of things are available in the shop for sale like precisely designed handicraft, traditional attire, , bags and many more. Traditional antique jewelleries are available here like jhumkas, kamar bandhan, bangles etc. It is a paradise for women who love to adorn themselves with jewelleries.

Amazing rajasthani puppets are also available for sale. The puppetry art is called ‘Kathputli’ which means dolls made with wood and filled with cotton. They are adorned with decorative colourful clothes and beautiful make up which makes the very attractive.

Festivals or any kind of social gathering is incomplete without puppets. Puppets are integral part of their culture. Puppet show is one of the most popular performing arts of Rajasthan. The performance of the puppeteers using the colourful puppet with their fingers always succeeded to entertain the visitors.

There are many shops who sales different kind of turban. In Rajasthan, they are called ‘pagri’ of varying size, colour and size. It is a symbol of honour, respect. Turban has many practical functions. It is used as a pillow or a blanket by the travelers. They also help in protecting the head from injury, sand and scorching heat. They are also used to fetch water from the well.

Decorative items, exquisite jewellery, furnishing, shawls, bags, everything is available inside the fort. It is a paradise for shopaholic. The fort will enthrall them for many hours.

Inside the fort, local plays musical instruments and sings Rajasthani folk songs.

There is a influx of foreign tourist here.

It is a labyrinth of havelis, palace, shops, and temples and is the only ‘living fort ‘in India which is the most significant landmark of Jaisalmer. The palaces, temples inside are filigreed with unbelievable intricate details.

The sheer grandeur of it seemed unfathomable. The fort looks like a fairy tale palace. It looks stunning at night especially in full moon. The views of sunset from the fort are spectacular and enchanting.

Visitor’s information
i)          Timing – 9 am to 6 pm daily.
ii)         Best time to visit – during winter due to comfortable weather.
iii)        Entry fee- there is entry fees for museums.

ii) “Patwon Ki Haveli”After visiting Sonar Kela, our next destination was “Patwon Ki Haveli” which is a heritage museum of Jaisalmer which houses accessories and furnishing of the patwas that truly evokes the royal luxurious lifestyle of Rajput of 19th century.

The palace is built in 1805 by Gunman Chand Patwa, who was a trader of brocade and jewellery and it took almost 60 years to complete the first haveli.  It is a masterpiece of splendid architecture which proves that the craftsmen involved in erecting the haveli were the finest craftsman in the world.

It is amalgamation of 5 havelis among them patwa ki haveli is the largest and finest. It is the first haveli erected in Jaisalmer which precise architecture will spellbound you. It is the most ostentatious and historical significant haveli of Jaisalmer.

The museum is very beautiful and there is as section in the haveli where Rajasthani textiles, handicrafts are available for visitors for buying.

The lane leading to haveli is very narrow. There are multiple shops on both side of the lane which sales gorgeous Rajasthani attire, precisely designed handicraft and many more. You can roam here for many hours and can do shopping.

Patwon ki haveli ‘represents Jaisalmer. The photographs of this mansion have been published in any travel magazines. It is a paradise for those who love to take photographs of architectural monument.

The interior and the murals are inspired by Rajput, Mughal & Victorian architecture. The stunning façade, stone carving, grandeur, ornate balconies, wall paintings, intricate design, creative mirror work is a marvelous example of finest architecture.

Your visit to Jaisalmer will be incomplete without the Haveli tour.

Information for visitors
i)                   Entry fee- Rs 50 (for Indian) and Rs 200(for foreigner)
Rs 30 For camera Rs 40 for video.
ii)                 Timing – 9 am -5 pm
iii) Time taken – around 2 hrs

iii) Mandir Palace– The intricate architectural design, royal grandeur, splendid stone carving is attracting tourists from all over the world and in recent days has become one of the prominent landmarks of the city. 

 It is a 5-star premier heritage hotel and some part of the hotels has been opened for tourist to experience the lifestyle of royal people. The foundation stone was laid by ‘Maharawal Moolrajji’. It is a great example of Indo- Saracen architecture which is a blend of a blend of the Islamic and Rajput style.

 It has ornate balconies, delicately carved screens and has a tower at its top called ‘Badal Vilas’, which is The Tallest Structure below the Hill-Top City Fort.

In 20th century, the most beautiful portion of the palace is ‘Jawahir Vilas’ was built by Maharawal Jawahir Singhji and his son Maharaja Hukum Singhji transformed this palace into a heritage hotel.

It is a must visit place for all those who have great affinity towards architecture.  It is an exquisitely marvelous architecture that represents the fine and pure work of local craftsmanship.

Information for visitors:
i)                   There is entry fee.– Part A- Jawahir Vilas-Rs1000, Part B- Zanana Mahal- Rs80, Joint entry(A+B)-Rs160, Camera/Video-Rs 30
ii)                 For booking in Mandir Palace, follow the given link

https://www.welcomheritagehotels.in/hotel-details/mandir-palace-jaisalmer#details

iv) Gadisar lake – In the evening we reached our last destination of Jaisalmer , Gadisar Lake. It is an artificial lake which is built by Raja Rawal Jaisal. The main purpose of the lake was to conserve rain water and was the only water source of Jaisalmer.

At the entrance to the lake, their is a portion which has been kept for tourist so that tourist can take beautiful photographs of them in authentic Rajasthani attire and adorn themselves with exquisite Rajasthani jewellery.

Boat riding facilities are available in the lake. At the main gate there is a counter for booking tickets for boat ride.

Boat ride at the Lake is very blissful experience. It is place for complete relaxation of mind and soul after a tiresome day.

The lake is surrounded by many temples shrines.

To enjoy the utmost beauty of the lake, visit it during winters as migrated birds use to come here and you will not have to confront the scorching heat of summer.  

This is a paradise for bird’s lovers. The lake looks stunning in the evening. To enjoy the boat ride and the stunning sunset, I will recommend visiting the lake in the evening. The lake will keep everyone occupied. It was a blissful experience of boat riding in Gadisar Lake.  It is a place to seat back, relax and enjoy the beauty of nature.  

Information for visitors:
i) Entry fee – free but boat ride is chargeable.
Boat Rides:
 100 for Peddle Boat (2 Seater)
 200 for Peddle Boat (4 Seater)
 300 for Row Boat (6 Seater)
ii) Timing- 8 am -8 pm
iii) Famous for – natural beauty, boating.
iv) Best time to visit: In winter

Our city tour ended with blissful boating experience in Gadisar Lake. The bumpy jeep and the unique experience of camel ride during the sunrise and sunset are the main tourist attractions of Thar Desert.  The sand becomes sparkling gold during sunrise and sunset. The striking deep blue sky along with golden sand, the singing and dancing of the local folk, the mesmerizing experience of camel ride, the astonishing sunrise and sunset, the shimmering Golden fort, the extravagant lifestyles of Rajput, Rajasthani culture, desert festival will definately compel you to revisit the place again.

We were fully content by the eternal beauty of Jaisalmer. Our ecstatic was palpable. We will love to experience the royal culture again and again.

If you have one more day in your hand, then you can visit Longewala, Indo-Pak border at Tanot village that separates India from Pakistan. There is Tanot mata temple where Goddess Aavad is worshiped as Tanot mata.  Tourists are not allowed to go beyond the temple to see the border. It has now become a tourist destination of Jaisalmer especially those who admires army life. It takes around 2-2.5 hrs to reach the place.

Festival of Jaisalmer-
Desert festival of Jaisalmer is an event which is organized three days prior to full moon in the month of ‘Magh’ (January –February). The festival is celebrated amidst in the enchanting Thar Desert. The exuberant festival hosts camel races, puppeteers, turban tying competitions and many more events which entertains the tourist to the utmost. Men with long mustache, in traditional Rajasthani attire wearing vibrant turban looks amazing in the festival.

Food to taste

Dal bati churma, Authentic Rajasthani vegetarian thali, Famous Ghotunwa sweets

Famous Dal Bati Churma
Rajasthani thali..
Ghotunwa… The famous sweet..

We bought the sweets from one of the famous Sweet shop of Jaisalmer.

Can be reached

By Air – Jaisalmer has a small airport from where only domestic flights operate to only few states of India. So, the nearest airport is Jodhpur Airport. Jodhpur Airport, located some 285 km away from Jaisalmer. Jaisalmer can be easily reached from Jodhpur by hiring cabs.
 

By TrainNearest railway station is Jaisalmer.  Direct trains from Delhi, Jaipur and Jodhpur are available. Tourist can also avail the luxury train ‘Palace on Wheels’ to reach Jaisalmer. On reaching the station, visitors can avail auto rickshaws and cabs.

By road – Jaisalmer is well connected with neighboring states by road . Deluxe and normal buses runs regularly.

Trip cost

  1. The package at Dam and Dunes for two person- Rs 4500
  2. The cab fare includes pick up from Jaisalmer staion, full sightseeing of the city and drop again at Jaisalmer station – Rs 4000

Tour itinerary-

For 02 day:-

Day 01- Welcome to the city, go to hotel/resort and at evening enjoy the camel ride at Thar Desert.

Day 02- explore the city tour which include Jaisalmer fort, Patwon ki haveli, mandir palace and Gadisar Lake. Departure at night or next morning.

For 03 day

Day 01- Welcome to the city, go to hotel/resort and at evening enjoy the camel ride at Thar Desert.

Day 02- At morning visit Jaisalmer fort and Patwon ki haveli. Evening is free to stroll around the city. Departure at night or next morning.

Day 03 – At morning visit Jain temple at Lodurva village, mandir palace and Gadisar Lake. Departure at night or next morning…

or

Day 01- Welcome to the city, go to hotel/resort and at evening enjoy the camel ride at Thar Desert.

Day 02 – At the morning, can visit Kuldhara village to experience the rural life. Evening is your leisure time. At evening, you can also enjoy puppet show conducted at Thar museum.

Day 03- Explore the city tour which include Jaisalmer fort, Patwon ki haveli, mandir palace and Gadisar Lake. Departure at night or next morning..

For 04 day

Day 01- Welcome to the city, go to hotel resort and at evening enjoy the camel ride at Thar Desert.

Day 02 – At the morning, can visit Laungewala, Indo-Pak bordr at Tanot villahge. Evening is your leisure time.

Day 03- Explore the city tour which include Jaisalmer fort, Patwon ki haveli, mandir palace and Gadisar Lake.

Day 04- At the morning can visit Kuldhara village to experience the rural life. Departure at night or next morning.

My travel tips

  1. To witness the stunning sunrise and sunset of Thar Desert, reach the desert before sunrise and sunset timings.
  2. While visiting the desert, be very carefully with your gadgets (especially mobiles) and all other stuff that you are carrying. Don’t let them fall in the sand. In fraction of seconds, they will get covered by the layers of sand and it is almost impossible to find it by digging in the sand.
  3. If you are shopaholic, then Golden fort is the right place for you. It has everything to sale.
  4. Please visit Jaisalmer in winter to avoid the scorching heat of summer.
  5. Taste the scrumptious local cuisine.
  6. To experience the royal lifestyle and if money is not a constraint, then try to stay at the heritage hotel, Mandir Palace.
  7. At leisure time in evening, you can enjoy the puppet show conducted by Thar museum. You can also buy hand made puppets from the museum.

If you have any questions, want to know more info or want a guidence regarding the city tour, then please do contact me.. It will be a great pleasure for me. 🙏🙏🙏🙏

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