(The Desert Affair)
Guarding the western frontier of India, at the edge of Thar Desert lies this ‘Golden city’, famous for its stunning hues and geological relevance. Named after its founder Rawal Jaisal, the city has mushrooms around the iconic mud fort of Jaisalmer (The Golden Fort) which apart from being the central attraction, also houses many bazaars, hotels and royal residencies of medieval times. The city due to its solidarity setting and expanding dunes at bay, has emerged as a prominent destination for romantic getaways and adrenaline junkies.
It was 1165 that Rawal Jaisal, a heir of neighboring province brought Jaisalmer Fort on the map of Rajputana history. Reckoned as one of the largest fortifications in the world, building of this structure is highly credited to an ancient prophecy by a prominent Hindu god ‘Krishna’. The city remained a vital point in silk route connecting the Indian subcontinent to central Asia through most of the medieval period and hence prospered a lot. It was between 16 th to 18th centuries that the city witnessed extensive warfare during Muslim invasion and British Raj, but was never truly conquered.
PLACES TO VISIT:
- Jaisalmer Fort – Also called Sonar Quila (Golden Fort) due to the honey gold color it radiates during the sunset, is a fine instance of royal architecture that has stood the test of time and many battles. The heritage site is often termed as a ‘living fort’ owing to the large number of bazaars, hotels, and traditional royal residences that is home to almost a quarter of city population. Also, many prominent tourist attractions including multiple havelis with stunning architectures, Jain temples, museums etc. are located inside this giant fort itself.
- Mandir Palace – This former royal residence towering over 5 stories attracts numerous tourists that leave fascinated with its fabulous architecture and intricate carvings.
- Gadisar Lake – Jaisalmer being an arid region has great significance of this lake that once used to be the water source now serves as a popular tourist spot with its stunning views and plentiful temples.
- Wood Fossil Park – Located about 15 kms from city, this is a treat for geology lovers. Stocked with fossils of Jurassic age, it takes the travelers to the journey of pre-historic age.
- Desert National Park – Endowed with a rich variety of wildlife, it is a must visit for nature enthusiasts to discover the desert ecosystem. Home to a host of wildlife including some endangered animals, the Park also plays host to an even higher of variety of migratory birds in winters.
- Jaisalmer Government Museum – The official museum of city that has a large collection of antiques and artifacts from as far as 7th century, is the central attraction for tourists interested in local culture and history buffs.
- Kuldhara – Once a prospering group of 84 villages, this is said to be abandoned overnight with many myths and folklores surrounding the mystery. Apart from being a fine architectural site to visit, the place is believed to give creeps to many visitors.
FAIRS & FESTIVALS:
This annual festival organized during January and February remains a major attraction for tourists and locals as well. While the weather remains pleasant, the city keeps buzzing with various cultural activities that are a delight to explore. Camel Polo, Camel Race, Puppeteers, Acrobats, among other desert themed sports ensures an entertaining and enriching experience during your visit.
- Desert Safari – Get on top of a Camel, to cruise through the city and desert alike and explore the expansive desert with its fascinating ecosystem and local culture in royal style.
- Desert Camping – Nomads are considered to lead one the most intriguing lifestyle, and this is your chance to get into their shoes. Spend a night in traditional tent in middle of the desert to get that soul-strucking feel of utmost tranquility and solitude and witness a clear sky like never before.
- Desert Sports – The Sam dunes near the city are a major center for desert sports. From Quad-biking to skating, and from Paragliding to Dune-bashing, the city will not disappoint, if adrenaline kicks are what you seek.
BEST TIME TO VISIT:
The winters from October to January, on the other hand clock minimum temperature of around 5 degree while 23 degree Celsius being the maximum, perfect to indulge in a wide array of activities the city has to offer. Owing to its close proximity to the desert, the city records high fluctuations in temperatures across seasons and even during day and night. On a typical summer day from March to June, the temperature rises as high as 49 degree Celsius, which drops, to around 25 degree Celsius during night. This makes sightseeing and safaris virtually impossible during day and tourists should only visit if they are up for night camping.
HOW TO REACH:
- By Air – Jodhpur Airport is the closest airport at 283 kms with frequent flights on major domestic routes, while Jaipur (573 kms) is the nearest option for international travelers.
- By Rail – Jaisalmer Railway Station has well connectivity to all major cities like Jodhpur, Jaipur, Delhi, etc.
- By Road – Jaisalmer Bus Terminal has regular buses plying for major cities like Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, among others.