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India >> Rajasthan >> Jaisalmer >> Jaisalmer - The Golden City
Jaisalmer - The Golden City Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
  Overview   Holiday Ideas 
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Jaisalmer - The Golden City, lies in the heart of the Thar Desert, located on the westernmost frontiers of India, in the state of Rajasthan. It is named after its founder Rao Jaisal, a Rajput king. The city stands on a ridge of yellowish sandstone, crowned by a fort, which houses the palace, several ornate Jain temples and numerous finely sculpted houses and temples.


The daunting fort is an example of a majestic monument with a glorious past, a Golden City of dreams that baffles its visitors. Rising high from Trikuta hill, 99 enormous bastions conceals beautiful havelis, its magical charm casts a spell on any tourist whether an Indian or a foreigner. This remote kingdom was renowned for the valour of its rulers, the ferocity of its warriors and for the exquisite architecture which reflects from the palaces and the havelis owned by wealthy merchants.



Deoraj, a famous descendant of the Bhati clan, is venerated the real founder of the Jaisalmer dynasty, and with him the title of Rawal commenced forth. In 1156 Rawal Jaisal, the sixth in succession from Deoraj, built the fort and founded the city of Jaisalmer, and made it his capital as he moved from his former capital at Lodhurva (which is situated about 15 km to the north-west of Jaisalmer).


Jaisalmer is a perfect choice during the winters. Studded with magnificent tourist haunts that reverberates the vibrant culture of this lovely desert kingdom, it is laced with beautiful forts, sacred shrines, ornate havelis reminiscent of the yester years, rippling lake, interesting museums adds on to its endless charm. It is also the site of several fairs, which makes it throb with pulsating energy. The Desert Festival is perhaps one of the most awaited festivals of this splendid city. It comes alive with the foot tapping rhythms of Dhap, Ghoomar, Gair among a host of other folk dances, with sound of melodious tunes of the Sarangi, Matka and Minla. The Gangaur festivities are also major crowd puller.


The adventure buffs have fully packed days with camel safaris and hiking across the desert. An experience of a lifetime  - enthralling , exciting and unforgettable are the vast stretches of sand dunes',  the romantic sunsets, the hikes and camel rides and  strolls down town. Desert Motor-cross is fast becoming a regular event for the adventure seekers to test man-machine endurance.


It is also a paradise for shopaholics.  One can pick beautiful traditional attires in striking hues embellished with mirrors, exquisite collector's items at the bustling bazaars. To enjoy the lovely relaxing ambience of the Golden City, minimum two days are required and topping it up with camel safaris across the golden dunes needs to extend your stay by another two days.


Jaisalmer Fort

The fort is almost 800yrs old, one of the largest forts in the world, an impressive and dominating structure rising 30 feet high amidst the yellow sands of the desert. Its massive yellow sandstone walls merges with the golden hues of the desert sand and rays of the setting sun casts colourful glow creating a magical effect. The fort is also known as the Golden Fort or Sonar Quila.


The fort was built in 1156 by Rawal Jaisal, the founder of the Jaisalmer city. The later rulers added to the edifice, it has borne the brunt of attacks by armies from Delhi and Jodhpur. Throughout its history, the fort has never been deserted by its inhabitants; this is the world’s only living fort and about a quarter of city's population live in the fort of Jaisalmer, this adds to the uniqueness of the place.


The first fort gate at Gopa Chowk, welcomes its visitors, leading through a stone-paved passage that winds through a series of massive and intricately positioned gates with yellow stone towering all around to hold a citadel with in it – teeming with life and history. The main courtyard of the fort is called the Dussehra Chowk, below the Raj-Mahal, and is reached after passing through Hawapol, the last of the gates. From here streets paved with stones and busy with touristy shops, hotels, restaurants, temples and houses lead to various parts of the fort.


The palace of the former rulers is a seven storey structure and looms large over the Dussehra Chowk, the central square. One can stand in the square and marvel at the intricate stonework on the façade of the palace building.  This former royal residence is now being restored and parts are open to the public as the Jaisalmer Fort Palace Museum and Heritage centre.


The palace was built over many generations and the various buildings are connected by low and narrow passages. Inside the fort are seven beautiful Jain temples, delicately carved in yellow sandstone and built in the 15th and 16th centuries. The temples are well maintained and were revamped in the 1970s.


There is also the Hindu temple, not of any note architecturally, but interesting because it’s the oldest temple in the fort, built by Rawal Jaisal during its construction. It was damaged during Khilji’s invasion and then renovated in the 15th century.



A water source, built in the 14th century by Rawal Gadsi Singh with the sole purpose of collecting the precious rain water and ensuring its supply to Jaisalmer. There are a number of shrines and pavilions along the periphery of the tank and with an arched pavilion to its centre.



Jaisalmer has some of the exclusively ornate residences ever built in the history, called havelis. Built by the wealthy merchants of this town between 18th and 19th centuries, when trade flourished on this lucrative trade route to Persia, Egypt, Africa and Arabia, before the rise of sea trade and Bombay harbour that made the land routes redundant. The havelis were built of yellow Jaisalmer sandstone, adorned with jaalis, carved balconies with elaborate facades, a mere reminder of ostentatious display wealth and stature


The first, the biggest and most beautiful is The Patwon-ki-Haveli. It is a collection of 5 small havelis built adjacently by five Jain brothers in the first half of the 19th century. The exteriors flaunt some extremely impressive workmanship, done so intricately that the closer you look, more is revealed. Many walls have lovely jharokhas opening out into the courtyard or onto the street below. The multi-storey buildings were constructed in the traditional style of rooms set around a central courtyard. There are remnants of fine paintings on some of the walls.


Around Jaisalmer

A tour around Jaisalmer can be done in half a day comprising of a visit to Bada bagh, Lodhurva, Amar Sagar, Mool Sagar and Kuldhara, while that to Sam and Khuri need more time. Barmer should be given a full-day tryst, with a halt en route at the Akal Woof Fossil Park.


Desert National Park



Art & Music

The rendition of folk Music in accompaniment with traditional instruments and the folk dances are very popular and invigorating. There are two communities viz. ‘Manganiars’ and ‘Langas’ who are doing a tremendous job not only in preserving this local art & music but carrying it beyond the domestic shores and have achieved in acclaiming recognition world wide. These cultural performances are an add on charm and have special attraction for the tourists.

 Getting there


Western most district in Rajasthan.


280 km northwest of Jodhpur, 350 km southwest of Bikaner and 630 west of Jaipur.

 Fast Facts
Name Jaisalmer - The Golden City Best Time To Visit October to February
Location Jaisalmer   Rajasthan   West   India  
Open From 0000-00-00  To 0000-00-00 Type Historical Desert City
Temperature Summar   44-50°C      Winter   4-8°C      Rainy   32-38°C
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