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Jaisalmer Travel Guide
Rising from the heart of the Thar Desert like a golden mirage is the city of Jaisalmer. A commanding fort etched in yellow sandstone stands with all its awesome splendor, dominating the amber-hued city.
Gadisar Lake, Jaisalmer Tours & Travels
The city has an interesting legend associated with it, according to which, lord Krishna- the head of Yadav clan foretold Arjuna that a remote descendent of the Yadav clan would build his kingdom atop the Trikuta Hill, His prophecy was fulfilled in 1156AD.


When Rawal Jaisal, a Bhatti Rajput abandoned his fort at Lodurva and founded a new capital Jaisalmer, perched on the Trikuta Hill Bhatti Rajputs of Jaisalmer were fedual chief who lived off the forced levy on the caravans laden with precious silks and spices that crossed the territory enroute Delhi-or Sind. These seems to be straight out of the "Tales of the Arabian Night ' still enchants.

The life within the citadel conjures up images of medieval majesty visible in its narrow lanes strewn with magnificent palaces, havelis, temples and of course skilled artisans and ubiquitous camels. the setting turn Jaisalmer into a beautiful golden brown is a spectacular sight.

The perfect time to visit the golden city is during the Desert Festival held in Jan/Feb. every year, when the city reverberates to the sound of melodious tunes and rhythms. Folk dances, exciting competitions and contest, especially the turban raying contest.

Mr. Desert contest and camel races enliven the festivals colorful craft bazars are setup for the occasion and a soundand light spectacle is organized with folk artistes performing against the spledid backdrop of the famous sam sand dunes on the full moon night. Surely a not-to-be-missed events.

Its like straight out of an Arabian Nights fable. The name Jaisalmer induces a dramatic picture of utter magic and brilliance of the desert. The hostile terrain not with standing the warmth and colour of people is simply over whelming. One of the main draws is the daunting 12th century Jaisalmer Fort.

The beautiful havelis which were built by wealthy merchants of Jaisalmer are yet another interesting aspect of the desert city. And you can let your eyes caress the sloppy sand dunes while you ramble your way in a camel safari.

The desert citadel is truly a golden fantasy in Thar Desert. Bhatti Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal, after whom the city finds its name, founded Jaisalmer in 1156. On advice of a local hermit Eesaal he chose the Tricut Hills as his new abode abandoning his vulnerable old fort at Luderwa just 16 kilometres northwest.

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 Bhatti Rajput rulers lined their coffer with gains from traditional taxes on passing by caravans and sometimes through illicit gains by rustling cattle.

Choti Chopar, Jaisalmer Holiday TravelsOver the years the remote location of Jaisalmer kept it almost untouched by outside influences. In the 13th century Ala-ud-din Khilji Emperor of Delhi besieged the fort for nine years in an effort to take back the treasure taken by the Bhatti Rajput from his imperial caravan train. When the fall of the fort was imminent the women of the fort committed Jauhar, an act of mass self-immolation, while men donned saffron robes and rode to their certain death.

Duda son of Jaitasimha, a Bhatti hero also perished in the battle. Dudas descendants continued to rule Jaisalmer. In 1541 they even fought Mughal Emperor Himayun. Though their relations with Mugshal was not always hostile. Sabala Simha won the patronage of Mughal Emperor Shaha Jahan for battle distinctions in Peshawar and the right to rule Jaisalmer. In the days of Raj, Jaisalmer was the last to sign the Instrument of Agreement with the British.

Ages have gone by and the monuments of Jaisalmer have withstood the buffeting winds of the desert all through. Jaisalmer is a marvel of beautiful culture and harsh climatic conditions, together amounting to a memorable experience. The old city was completely encircled by wall but much of it is now pulled down sadly for want of building material in recent years.

The massive golden fort, which is the essence of Jaisalmer, is entered through First Gate. Is a burrow of narrow streets complete with Jain Temples and old palaces. The main market the Bhatia Market is right below the hill. The bank, offices and several shops are also located near the Amar Sagar Gate to the west.


Places to see :

Fort & Palaces :

Jaisalmer Fort
Known as SONAR QUILA, rising from the sand , the mega structure merges with the golden hues of the desert ambience and the setting suns in its most colourful shades gives it a fairy tale look. Its simply a magic, the bastions envelops a whole townships that consist of palace complex various security sources and the havelis of rich merchants carved with an incredibly light touch, several temples and the residential complexes of the armies and traders placed strategically on the trade route, from where the ancient caravans passed en-route passing all the riches for the prosperity to an otherwise non source full kingdom.

Jaisalmer Fort, Jaisalmer Holiday PackageThese merchants served and acquire a great deal of power and noble status in the royal courts of Bhatti Rajputs who founded the state in the 12th century and proceeded further. But the rich merchant inspired by the classic style of the royals , constructed huge mansions (havelis) adjacent to each other in the nature of medieval culture and profusely decorated walls and ceilings and intricately carved outdoors and interiors. The colourful art forms and some how side kind the royal heritage and made it appear more pale in comparison . The craftsmen were usually muslims who were induced on their journey to exhibit their skills. The results was architectural purity that cannot be seen elsewhere.

Deep in the heart of the Thar Desert is Jaisalmer, one of the last princely bastions in the region. Founded on what was the cross - road of lucrative trade routes, this remote settlement came to be celebrated for the valour of its rulers, and for the aesthetic sense represented by their palaces and havelis.

The rich merchants engaged stone - craftsmen who worked delicately on the sandstone mansions they built, filling up facades with sculptural filigree, screen windows, delicate pavilions and beautiful balconies. Today, these veritable art - museums are still inhabited, and their colourful celebrations and festivals have placed Jaisalmer Fort firmly on the world tourism map.

The golden - yellow sandstone of Jaisalmer Fort, over 800 years old, crowns the Trikuta Hill. Within its walls, defended by 99 turrets, lies the old city, nearly a quarter of modern Jaisalmer. Seen from outside, the sight must be almost identical to what was seen by merchants on their overland camel caravans to central Asia. Once this desert outpost was an important gate for the trade route, and Jaisalmer grew wealthy on the proceeds. But the advent of commercial shipping relegated the town to relative obscurity.

The fort stands almost 30 metres over the city and houses an entire living area within huge ramparts. Walking through the narrow lanes is an experience worth savouring.

It is approached through Ganesh Pol, Suraj Pol, Bhoot Pol and Hawa Pol. Also, within it are many beautiful havelies and a group of Jain temples dating from the 12th to the 15th centuries.

Being part of the Desert Triangle and the venue of Desert Festival, the place is accessible by rail, road and air and has tourist accommodation ranging from high budget to low budget. The city is also covered by the "Palace on Wheels" a train-cum-road package, which needs no description. This place too witnesses large flow of tourist traffic in winters.

Thar Desert, Jaisalmer Tours & TravelsDeep in the heart of the Thar Desert is Jaisalmer, one of the last princely bastions in the region. Founded on what was the cross - road of lucrative trade routes, this remote settlement came to be celebrated for the valour of its rulers, and for the aesthetic sense represented by their palaces and havelis.

The rich merchants engaged stone - craftsmen who worked delicately on the sandstone mansions they built, filling up facades with sculptural filigree, screen windows, delicate pavilions and beautiful balconies. Today, these veritable art - museums are still inhabited, and their colourful celebrations and festivals have placed Jaisalmer Fort firmly on the world tourism map.

The golden - yellow sandstone of Jaisalmer Fort, over 800 years old, crowns the Trikuta Hill. Within its walls, defended by 99 turrets, lies the old city, nearly a quarter of modern Jaisalmer. Seen from outside, the sight must be almost identical to what was seen by merchants on their overland camel caravans to central Asia. Once this desert outpost was an important gate for the trade route, and Jaisalmer grew wealthy on the proceeds. But the advent of commercial shipping relegated the town to relative obscurity.


Havelis in Jaisalmer

Nathmal Ji Ki Haveli
Two architect brothers built it in the 19th century. Interestingly, while one concentrated on the right, the other concentrated on the left and the result is a symphony epitomising the side by side symmetry during construction. Paintings in miniature style monopolise the walls in the interior. Mighty tuskers carved out of yellow sandstone stand guard to the haveli.

Salim Singh Ki Haveli
This haveli was built about 300 years ago and a part of it is still occupied. Salim Singh was the prime minister when Jaisalmer was the capital of the princely state and his mansion has a beautifully arched roof with superb carved brackets in the form of Peacocks. The mansion is just below the hill and it is said that once it had two additional wooden storeys in an attempt to make it as high as the maharaja's palace, but the maharaja had the upper storey torn down.

Patwon-Ji-Ki-Haveli
This is one of the largest and most elaborate Haveli in Jaisalmer and stands in a narrow lane. It is five storeys high and is extensively carved. It is divided into six apartments, two owned by archaeological Survey of India, two by families who operate craft-shops and two private homes. There are remnants of paintings on some of the inside walls as well as some mirror work.


Parks in Jaisalmer

Badal Vilas, Jaisalmer Holiday VacationDesert National Park
The Desert National Park is an excellent example of the ecosystem of the Thar Desert and its rich fauna. The Sudashri forest post is the most ideal place for observing wildlife in the Desert National Park. Sand dunes form less than 20 percent of the Park, which consists of craggy rocks, pavements and compact salt lake bottoms, intermedial areas and fixed dunes.

Its inhabitants include the blackbuck, chinkara, wolf, Indian fox, desert fox, hare and desert cat. Flights of sandfrouse start coming to waterholes from sunrise onwards. One also hear the morning call of the grey partridge. Blue tailed and green bee-eaters, drongos, common and bush quail and Indian rollers are birds, which are commonly found around waterholes. the park is also home to the great Indian Bustard which is peril of extinction..

Akal Wood Fossil Park
Just 17 kms from Jaisalmer and a kilometre away from the Barmer Road are fossilised remains of 180 million-year-old forests. These are beautiful forest vistas and any forester around can show you. There is a ticket to visit the Park for foreigners Rs 20 and locals Rs 5 plus Rs 10 for vehicle.


Lakes in Jaisalmer

Gadi Sagar
This tank, south of the city walls, once held the town water supply, and befitting its importance in providing precious water to the inhabitants of this arid city, it is sourrounded by small temples and shrines. The beautiful yellow sandstone gateway arching across the road down to the tank is the Tilon-ki-Pol, and is said to have been built by a famous prostitute, Tilon . When she offered to pay to have this gateway constructed, the Maharaja refused permission under it to go down to the tank and he felt that this would be beneath his dignity. While he was away, she built the gate , adding a Krishna temple on top so that king could not tear it down.


Fairs & Festivals in Jaisalmer

Desert Festival, Jaisalmer Fair & Festival ToursDesert Festival ( JAN - FEB )
Once a year in winters and on the middle of the continually rising and falling stark yellow sands of the great Thar Desert, the empty sands around Jaisalmer come alive with the brilliant colour, music and laughter of the Desert Festival. The festival is organised by the tourist authorities as tourist entertainment around January-February.

The very rich and colourful Rajasthani folk culture is on show here for a few days. Rajasthani men and tall beautiful women dressed in their brightly costumes dance and sing lingering ballads of valour, romance and tragedy. Traditional musicians attempt to outdo each other in their musical superiority.

The high points of the festival are - snake charmers, puppeteers, acrobats, folk performers do rapid trade. Camels, the lifeline of the desert, play a foremost role. Proud moustached villagers, dressed in their ethnic best come astride their picturesquely caparisoned camels to join in the camel dances and competitions of camel acrobatics, camel races and décor, camel polo, tug of war and the like.

The tourist dances, turban tying competitions and tug of war are big draws and laughter. The Mr Desert competitions, which are focused around the length of moustaches by and large, attract many hopefuls.


How to Reach

Air:
Jodhpur 285km is the convenient airport.

Rail:
A good connection with major cities of the country through Jodhpur.

Road:
A good network of roads joins Jaisalmer with many destination in and around Rajasthan.

Dining:
The best cuisine is available in the hotel restaurants.

Shopping:

Mirror work embroidery articles, woolen pattue and other items like wooden boxes trickles silver jewelry and curios are available.



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