Jaisalmer - the golden desert city of Rajasthan. It still bears
the look of a quaint medieval town where chivalary and honour were
the order of the day.
275 Kms from Jodhpur, also called "Golden City" was founded
by Rao Jaisal. Famous for the Jaisalmer Fort, Patwon-ki-haveli,
sand dunes, and ideal for camel rides and safaris.
The city has an interesting legend associated with it, according
to which, Lord Krishna-the head of the Yadav Clan, foretold Arjuna
that a remote descendent of the Yadav Clan would built his kingdom
atop the Trikuta Hill. His prophecy was fulfilled in 1156 A.D. when
Rawal Jaisal, a descendent of the Yadav Clan and a Bhatti Rajput,
abandoned hisfort at Lodurva and founded a new capital - Jaisalmer,
perched on the Trikuta Hill.
Bahti Rajputs of Jaisalmer were fedual chiefs who lived off the
forced levy on the caravans laden with precious silks and spices
that crossed the territory enroute Delhi-or-Sind. These caravans
earned the town great wealth.
The life within the citadel conjures up images of medieval majesty
visible in its narrow lanes stewn with magnificent palace, havelis,
temples and of course skilled artisans and ubiquitous camels. Folk
dances, exciting competitions an contests, especially the turban-tying
contest. Mr. Desert contest and camel races enliven the festivities.
Colorful craft bazaars are set up for the occasion and a sound
and light spectacle is organized wit folk artists performing against
the splendid backdrop of the famous Sam sand dunes on the full moon
night. Surely a not-to-be missed event.
Built in 1156 by the Bahtti Rajput ruler Jaisala, and reinforced
by later rulers, the fort crowns the 80m - high Trikuta Hill. Over
the centuries it was the focus of many battles between the Bhatties,
the Mughals of Delhi and the Rathores of Jodhpur. This is one of
the planets only living forts, with one quarter of the old city's
population residing in it. The fort has 99 bastions around its circumference
and is protected by three walls. The lower wall is of solid stone
blocks which reinforce the loose rubble of which Trikuta hill is
composed. The second wall snakes around the fort, and between this
and the third, of inner, wall, the warrior Rajputs hurled boiling
oil and water, and massive round missiles on their unwitting enemies
Above the fort flies the Jaisalmer standard, which features a chatri
against a red and yellow background. The fort looks especially magical
when it is lit up at night.
It is fascinating to9 wander around this living fort. It is packed
with houses, temples, handicraft shops and honeycombed with narrow,
winding lanes, all of them paved in stone. It is also quite as vehicles
are not allowed up here. Even building materials have to be carried
up by camel cart. The fort walls provide superb views over the old
city and surrounding desert. Strolling around the outer fort ramparts
is a popular activity at sunset.
The fort is entered from First Fort gate tough it is forbidding
series of massive gates via an enormous stone paved ramp, which
leads to a large courtyard. The former Maharaja's seven storeys
Palace, Rajmahal, fronts onto this. The square was formerly used
to review troops, hear petitions and present extravagant entertainment
for important visitors.
The haveli built between 1800 and 1860, was built by five Jain brothers
who made their fortunes by trading jwellery and fine brocades.This
haveli is divided into five aparments.
The first haveli is a private museum and shop, featuring displays
of old furnishings and household items. The second and fifth havelis
are government run. They are empty but you can wander around and
soak in the atmosphere. Only the ground floor is open on the second
haveli. The third haveli is an antique shop and the fourth, a private
residence, is not open for public.
The delicate pagoda like Tazia Tower rises from Badal Mahal (Cloud
Palace). Rising in its five-tiered splendor, with each storey graced
by a delicately carved balcony, the tower is of historical significance.
Muslim craftsmen built it in the shape of a Tazia and gifted to
their royal patron. Tazias are ornately decorated bamboo, paper
and tinsel replicas of a bier carried in procession during Mohurram.
A artificial lake built by Maharaja Gadsi Singh, Gadisar lake once
held the town's water supply.
This tank outside the city walls, once held the town's water supply,
and, befitting its importance in providing precious water to the
inhabitants of this arid city, is surrounded by small temples and
shrines. A wide variety of waterfowl flock here in winter. The tank
was built by Maharaja Gadsi Singh, taking the advantage of a natural
declivity that already retained some water.
The Jain Temple
Within the fort walls,
there are seven beautifully carved Jain Temples built between the
12th and 15th centuries. The cluster of temples is connected by
a series of corridors and walkways. Shoes and all leather items
must be removed before entering the temple.
The first temple you come around is the one dedicated to Chandraprabhu,
the eighth tirthankar (Jain Teacher), whose symbol is the moon.
It was built in 1509 and features fine sandstone sculpture in sandstone
in Mandapa (Fore chamber of the inner sanctum of the temple).
To the right of the Chandraprabhu Temple is Rikhabdev temple. There
are some fine sculptures around the walls protected by glass cabinets,
and the pillars are beautifully sculpted with apsaras (Celestial
Maiden) and gods. This temple has a lovely and tranquil atmosphere.
Other temples which may be currently closed to the non - Jains,
include the temple dedicated to Parasnath, a few steps behind Chandraprabhu.
Entry is via an enormous and beautifully carved torana (Gateway)
that culminates the image of the Jain tirthankara its apex. There
is a voluptuous carving of an apsara balancing a set of balls on
her raised forearm.
A door to the south side of the temple leads to the small Shitalnath
Temple, dedicated to the 10th tinrthankar. The image of Shitalnath
enshrined here is composed of eight precious metals. A door in the
north wall leads to the beautiful Sambhavnath Temple.
Steps lead from the courtyard before the Sambhavnath temple to
the Shantinath Temple, which was built in1536. The enclosed gallery
around the temple is flanked by hundreds of images of saints, some
of marble and some of Jaisalmer sandstone. Steps lead below the
temple to Kunthunath Temple, which was also built in 1536.
Desert National Sanctuary
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.
Sam Sand Dunes
Sam village is on the edge of the Desert National Park. One of the
most popular excursions is to the sand dunes on the edge of the
park, 42 km from Jaisalmer along a very good sealed road.
It is best to be here at sunrise or sunset, , and many camel safaris
spend a night at the dunes. Just before the sunset jeep carrying
loads of day-trippers arrive from Jaisalmer to be chased across
the sands by tenacious camel owners.
Despite of the tourist hype, it is still quite a magical place,
and it is possible to frame pictures of solitary camels against
lonely dunes. The desert dung beetles are fascinating to watch.
The ancient capital of Jaisalmer and an important pilgrim spot of
the Jain community with some magnificent Jain temple.
"Toran’ or the ornate arches at the main entrance and
splendid carvings are noteworthy. A ‘Kalptaru’ or a
divine tree within is the main attraction of the temple.
Furthur beyond Amar Sagar, 15 km northwest fo Jaisalmer, are the
deserted ruins of Lodhurva, which was the ancient capital before
the move to Jaisalmer. It was prbably founded by the Lodhra Rajputs,
and passed to the rular of Devagarh, Bhatti Devaraja, in 10th century.
In 1025, Mahmud of Ghazni laid seige to the town, and it was sacked
various times over subsequant decades, prompting Jaisala to shift
the capital to a new location, resulting in the foundation of Jaisalmer
The Jain Temples, rebuilt in the late 1970s, are the only remindres
of the city's formar magnificance. The main temple enshrines an
image of Parasnath, the 23rd tirthankar, and is finely wrought in
silver and surrounded by fine sculptures.
This 300 year old haveli of Jaisalmer’s Prime Minister 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.
This private haveli was built by Salim Singh who was the prime minister
when Jaisalmer was the capital of a princely state. A part of the
haveli is still occupied.
There are stone elephants befor the haveli; these were traditionally
erected before the homes of the prime ministers. This mansion is
erected with no mortar or cement - the stones are connected with
Jaisalmer is famous for embroidery, Rajasthani mirror work, rugs,
blankets, old stonework and antique. The dye and other fabrics are
made at Kadi Bundar, north of the city.
The nearest airport that caters to Jaisalmer - bounded travellers
is at Jodhpur. Jodhpur is connected to many other indian cities
Rajasthan Roadways run very comfortable deluxe & air conditioned
buses from Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner. The roads are very good and
The nearest railway station that caters to Jaisalmer - bounded travellers
is at Jodhpur. Jodhpur is connected to many other indian cities
Rajasthan Tourist Development Corporation sets up a special 'Tourist
Village' at the time of Desert Festival. The festival take place
between late January and mid - February, depending on the Lunar
General Information & Accomdation info on Jaisalmer city of Rajasthan