In December 2016, I went to Jaisalmer with my husband and inlaws. It was my second visit here and I can never get enough of the crude beauty of this city. There is something magical about the vibe of Jaisalmer which is just indescribable. From Royal families, historic places, forts, desert, traditionally dressed people, and amazing food, this city offers all!!
Jaisalmer is named after Maharawal Jaisal Singh, a Rajput king who founded the city in 1156 AD. It is also called the “Golden City of India” because the yellow sand and the yellow sandstone used in every architecture of the city gives a yellowish-golden tinge to the city and its surrounding area. Jaisalmer lies in the heart of the Thar Desert, is the largest district of Rajasthan and one of the largest in the country, surrounded on the west & south-west by the Pakistani border.
Being an arid desert region, the temperatures in Jaisalmer can get rather extreme. The temperature also varies from day to night. Make sure to check the weather before you plan your visit here.
Itinerary of my trip
First day of Jaisalmer we spent relaxing in our hotel. Read more about my hotel experience in my post about Suryagarh Hotel.
In the afternoon, we head out to the Jaisalmer War museum. Here you will be able to see various war planes and tanks. An ‘army wife’ was our guide who gave us information about the various wars Indian army had fought. There is also a short audio-visual film which talks about the Indian army.
Post breakfast in our hotel, we began our day by visiting the Jaisalmer fort in the main city. The fort was built in 1156 AD by the Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal and is named after him. It is also called as the Sonar Kila or Golden fort as its made of yellow sandstone. The fort is situated at a hilltop overlooking the entire city. Jaisalmer fort was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Inside the fort, you will be able to see the Royal palace, many Jain temples, Lakshminath temple and merchant Havelis.
You will need to leave you car at the base of the fort and take a local autorikshaw ride uphill to reach the fort. On the way, you will see many small shops and local houses giving a hint of the flavor of the city.
We roamed around the local markets in the narrow lanes where we visited a Jain temple. Photography is not allowed in the temples.
From here, we went to see the Patwon ki Haveli which is the first havelis to be built in Jaisalmer. It is a cluster of 5 havelis. The walls of Patwon ki Haveli are encrusted with stunning mirror work and beautiful paintings. Many local guides are available near the ticket counter. Make sure you get one, who will explain the various chambers and history of this beautiful haveli.
Post lunch, we headed towards Sam Sand dunes in the Thar desert where had a night camp arranged for us. Visit to Jaisalmer is incomplete without spending atleast one night in the desert. Read more about my desert camp in my post about ‘A night in Thar desert‘.
Our last day in Jaisalmer, started with a long drive to visit the Tannot village. On the way, we stopped at the Longewala war memorial site. Just about 19 kms from the Indo-Pak border, this site is a reminder of the 1971 war between India and Pakistan. A small audio-visual film arranged by the authorities here, will explain about the war. Tanks, barracks, bunkers are placed here to recreate the scene how Indian soldiers defended the attacks of opposite army. A definite must-go when in Jaisalmer.
The tank was captured from the Pakistani army during the war.
After almost 2 hrs of travelling through the desert areas we finally reached the Tannot Mata temple. This temple is located in a village very close to the Indo-Pak border. There is a history behind this temple being so famous. The Tannot Mata is said to have been protected many villages around this area and the BSF soldeirs still visit this temple and pray for their safe journey.
Note: There is no mobile network in this area. Also, you wont find any shops or restaurants here. There are clean washrooms near the temple area. Most important- beware of scary huge goats, which will chase you if they see you with any food item or prasad.
We stopped at Ramgarh village for lunch. There is only 1 dhaba turned restaurant which serves amazing vegetarian food. Probably the last place where you will find any shops for refreshments and food on the way towards Tanot mata temple.
On our way back, we stopped at Kuldhara village which is also known as the abandoned village. The village is known to have a history beyond 300 years where the whole village vanished overnight to save their honor. While leaving, they cast a curse on this place that one will ever be able to settle in their village and since then the village has been barren.
Another stop was made at the Bada bagh. This place has many tombs or chhatris in memory of the royal family from Jaisalmer. This place is mesmerizing with plain beauty of the construction of the tombs.
When we returned to the city, we went to Gadsisar lake to enjoy a cool boat ride. The entrance to the lake is through Tilon-Ki-Pol, a magnificent and artistically carved yellow sandstone archway. The lake is surrounded by small temples and shrines of Amar sagar. We jumped onto a boat with a guide who explained to us the various structures around the lake.
As the evening progressed, we made our way to the city center where we shopped for some local items and souvenirs.
After dinner it was time for us to head towards the railway station to catch our train to Jaipur.
- Many shops do not accept cards. Make sure you have enough cash with you.
- Check the weather and temperature before you can plan your visit so you can prepare accordingly.
- Always carry umbrellas or caps when travelling during the day, even if its winter.
- Always carry water bottles and snacks (keep extras) with you when travelling in the desert area. Some places are almost barren and you wont find any means of supply.
- You can contact TUK TUK Tours, for cab services to go around Jaisalmer.