Like a mysterious oasis rising tall in the desert, Jaisalmer rises proudly in the distance. It was once a city meant for the royals of Indian heritage and history. Discover all this beautiful, historic city has to offer. With its forts and palaces that are hundreds of years old, a freshwater lake, hilly sand dunes, traveling caravans of indigenous people and open-air markets, Jaisalmer will spark your imagination.
The Jaisalmer Fort draws travelers from around the world who want to take in the beautiful temples, ancient wells and grottoes and the intricate stone-carved designs.
No trip to Jaisalmer is complete without a visit to the Sam Road dunes and desert safari. Take a sojourn on a camel here!
Get your haggle on and come prepared to take back a truckload of locally produced scarves, shawls, semi-precious stones, jewelry, singing bowls and carpets.
While the shining star of this Indian city is still Indian food, in particular Gujarati cuisine, Jaisalmer's restaurants are no strangers to Chinese, Tibetan and Italian fare.
Located in Bhaskar Mohalla neighborhood is this haven of desert-tented camps, dances around campfires, traditional folk music, pools and baths to soak in.
Think this is just another pretty historic site? Think again. The walls of Jaisalmer Fort are alive - with the sound of people! There are 3000 inhabitants still living in the world's largest fortified city. Rajput ruler Jaisal in 1156 knew what he was doing when he built this city: it has sustained some form of civilization since then, moving from Bhati rule to the Mughal Empire and then the Rathores. When you first enter through the gates near Gopa Chowk, you'll be overwhelmed by their sheer size, the number of winding lanes and the impressive square of Dashera Chowk, right at the heart of the fort. Houses, temples, craft shops and eateries exist side by side - it's a thriving petri-dish of a culture that you cannot afford to miss.
Bada Bagh is the central location for viewing the "chhatris" or royal cenotaphs. At the "Bagh", which means "gardens", history and culture mix in with the earthy red sands of the Rajasthani desert. Any culture or art buff will enjoy walking amidst its domed steeples and multiple columns. There is a very quiet, still and reverent air at the Bagh. Besides the incredible stone architecture that has been intricately carved and has clearly survived the ages, one has to wonder at the sheer number of royals commemorated here, since each time a royal member died, a "chhatri" was erected in memoriam.
Even today the desert folk of Rajasthan wander its beige and golden sands. Amidst all the red, terracotta earth is the assortment of colorful textiles, ornaments, instruments, jewelry and leather goods that forms part of the culture and history of these nomadic folk. In essence, they are part of Jaisalmer's rich history and their shimmering clothing, crafts and customs are still well-preserved today. To reach out and touch them, visit the Folklore Museum.
No trip to Jaisalmer is complete without understanding its history, culture and, yes, taking in an evening show of Rajasthani drama with...puppets! Rare coins, manuscripts, recovered royal artifacts, weapons, musical instruments used in court and even fossils celebrate the desert culture. But nothing brings the day to a close quite like the incredible and hilarious puppet show that seeks to dramatize life in the desert with panache and play.
At once elegant and yet also slightly eerie, this cluster of 5 havelis (otherwise known as mansions), were built in 1805 by Guman Chand Patwa for his 5 sons. The entire project took the first 60 years of the 19th century. Crafted of yellow sandstone, the havelis are impressive, with their detailed carvings of deities and decorative elements; massive, imposing gates; tall, square-like skylights; huge, cavernous courtyards and multiple balconies. Spend the afternoon roaming its medieval and regal stone streets and halls.
Summer is extremely hot in the desert so the best time to visit is from November to March. Temperatures range from lows of 44°F to highs of 80°F.
The closest airports are in Jodhpur (177 miles away) or Jaipur for international travelers (349 miles away.) Upon arrival, grab a pre-paid taxi, starting from ₹5,500.
Trains arrive at the Jaisalmer Railway Station in Gandhi Nagar. The direct service from Delhi is the Shalimar Express. Fares start at ₹425 but vary depending on class.
Use the NH125 and then merge on to the NH11 to get from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer. Going from Jaipur to Jaisalmer, use the RJ SH19 and NH11.
Luxury lovers will delight at Desert Haveli Guest House, a heritage hotel. For moderate prices but a comparable stay, check out Artist Hotel. Otherwise, Hotel Fort View is a great budget option.
Sam Road – Stretching away from the city is Sam Road, home to the famous Sam Sand Dunes, and the incredible heritage hotel Suryagarh, that feels like an oasis.
Postal Colony – Atop the sparkling, calm waters of the GadiSar Lake, you'll find gorgeous stone gazebos, temples and tombs; A perfect spot for viewing the surrounding city.
Dhibba Para – Home to the incomparable majestic beauty that is Jaisalmer Fort, Dhibba Para is a popular destination for travelers who are also looking to be within walking distance to the Patwon-ki-Haveli.
Public transportation in Jaisalmer is a combination of walking, biking and autorickshaws.
You can grab a pre-paid car from private operators like Clear Car Rental or Jaisalmer Car Rental. Chauffeur-driven or cab services for a day start at ₹1,200.
You can also book self-drive car rentals from Clear Car Rental. Prices start at ₹25 per hour for 8 hours.
Local crafts and handmade jewelry are Jaisalmer's specialty that you can find at open-air markets and bazaars. Check out the Jewel Caravan next to the Sadar Bazaar for semi-precious stones, mandalas, Tibetan singing bowls, etc. Or, check out Shayama Cashmere Store for silk and cashmere clothing.
A quart of milk in Jaisalmer is ₹25 while a dozen eggs cost ₹38.
While there are many restaurants with various European fare appealing to tourists, head to The Seven Spice Restaurant, which specializes in Indian and Tibetan cuisine, besides sporting a gorgeous view of the city. Meals cost between ₹100 - ₹350.