Jaisalmer Tour India
- History of Jaisalmer
- Climate of Jaisalmer
- Tourist Attractions
- Eating in Jaisalmer
- Shopping in Jaisalmer
- Hotels in Jaisalmer
A vision straight out of 1001 Arabian Nights, the golden city of Jaisalmer evokes a dramatic picture of utter magic and brilliance of the desert. Shimmering like a mirage amidst the desolate beauty of the hot barren deserts of Rajasthan, the town of Jaisalmer situated on what was once one of the lucrative trade routes, is celebrated in history for the valor of its rulers, and for the aesthetic sense represented by their palaces and havelis.
The city has an interesting legend associated with it, according to which, lord Krishna- the head of Yadav clan foretold Arjuna that a remote descendent of the Yadav clan would build his kingdom atop the Trikuta Hill, His prophecy was fulfilled in 1156AD, when Rawal Jaisal, a Bhatti Rajput abandoned his fort at Lodurva and founded a new capital Jaisalmer, perched on the Trikuta Hill.
Jaisalmer is a small city that can be covered within two hours of leisurely strolling through the lanes and by-lanes; Jaisalmer has an extraordinarily medieval feel and incredible atmosphere. The Jaisalmer Fort, perched atop the triangular-shaped Trikuta Hills dominates the amber-hued city. Famous for its golden hues which are transmitted on its stone ramparts by the setting sun, the fort contains the palace and several ornate Jam temples. The lavishly decorated havelis built by the rich merchants with intricately carved outdoors and interiors are the pride of the city's architecture while the Gadi Sagar Lake Near Jaisalmer was once the main water supply of the city is a fine example of the ingenuity of the city’s hydraulics system.
Besides, architecture, the desert city of Jaisalmer is also famous for its handicrafts. Beautiful hand made embroidery, Rajasthani mirror work, stonework, antiques, camel leather items, woven jackets, wooden boxes, ornaments, puppets, joothies and other exquisite handicrafts are some of the arts and crafts in which the people of Jaisalmer excel and whose trade has for time immemorial accounted for the region’s prosperity and the wealth of its merchants.
The history of the golden city of Jaisalmer can be traced way back to the middle of the 12 th century when Raja Jaisal, a Bhatti Rajput and a member of the the Yadav clan, on the advise of the local hermit Eesul founded the city of Jaisalmer in 1156 AD. Perched on top of the triple-peaked Trikuta hill, the city of Jaisalmer has an interesting story associated with it. It is said the Lord Krishna - the head of Yadav clan had prophesized to Arjun that one of descendents would establish his kingdom atop this hill. That descendant was Raja Jaisal, who founded the city of Jaisalmer by abandoning his vulnerable old fort at Lodurva.
Strategically located at the junction of the flourishing trade route that connected India with the countries of Egypt , Arabia, Persia, Africa and the West, the city of Jaisalmer prospered immensely by imposing heavy tariffs and taxes on passing camel caravans carrying silks, spices and other precious items for trade. This growth in trade resulted in the creation of a group of rich merchants and traders, who utilized their new found wealth to build exquisite Jain temples and beautiful and elaborate havelis.
The city of Jaisalmer remained untouched by outside influences till the 13th century, when the forces of the Delhi Emperor Ala-ud-din Khilji besieged the fort in an effort to take back the treasure that was taken by the Bhatti Rajputs from his imperial caravan train. In a terrible battle that ensued for nine years, Duda, son of Jaitasimha perished in the battle, the women committed Jauhar and the valiant Rajputs met their death with open arms. This battle reinforced the Bhatti Rajputs claim as fierce warriors and Duda's descendants continued to rule Jaisalmer without any further trouble. Relations with the Mughals were cordial with the great Mughal emperor Akbar even marrying one of Jaisalmer princesses and one of the Jaisalmer nobles winning the patronage of Mughal Emperor Shahjahan for battle distinctions in Peshawar. Even in the days of Raj, Jaisalmer remained relatively free from any unwanted disturbances and was one of the last principalities to sign the instrument of agreement with the British.
Jaisalmer continued to be a crucial trading center well into the 20th century, till the development of Mumbai ports and the partition of India ruined its importance. It took two crucial Indo-Pak wars to reinforce the city's importance as a border state and today it is better known as an important army supply depot.
Located near the desert, Jaisalmer has an extreme climate- hot and scorching summers and cool chilly winters. Summers are very hot with the temperature touching 47 degrees while winters are very cold with the thermometer coming down to 8 degrees. The annual total rainfall is relatively low at 15 cm and the best months to visit the region is from October-March.
Facts and Figures of Jaisalmer :
- Population : 507,999
- Altitude : 242 metres
- Languages : Rajasthani, Hindi and English
- Best time to visit : October to March
- STD code : 02992
How to reach Jaisalmer : The capital of Marwar, the golden city of Jaisalmer is 558 kilometers from Jaipur, 864 km kilometers from Delhi, 626 kilometers from Ahmedabad and 1177 kilometers from Mumbai. The city is well connected with major parts of the country and easily accessible by air, road and rail.
By Road : Situated on National Highway No. 15, Jaisalmer is well connected by road to all major towns of India. A network of good motor able roads and private and government buses connect Jaisalmer with all the major cities of the country.
By Train : Jaisalmer is well connected by trains to all the major cities of India. The nearest railway station that caters to Jaisalmer - bounded travellers is at Jodhpur.
By Air : A large number of public and private airplanes operate to and fro to Jaisalmer from the major cities of the country.
Jaisalmer fort : Also known as Sonar Qila (the Golden Fort), the Jaisalmer fort shimmers like a mirage amidst the desolate beauty of the hot barren deserts of Rajasthan. Built in 1156 by the Bhati Rajput ruler Jaisala and reinforced by subsequent rulers, the fort situated on the Trikuta Hill had been the scene of many battles. Standing at a height of 100 meters over the city, the fort houses a citadel within its huge ramparts. The world's only living fort, about a quarter of city's population live within the fort's walls. Jaisalmer Fort is sheer magic .Built entirely of yellow sandstone; it turns to a magical honey-gold as the sun sets. Several entrances like the Ganesh Pol, Suraj Pol, Bhoota Pol and the Hava Pol guard the Megh Durbar and the Jawahar Mahal. The main attractions inside the fort are the Raj Mahal (Royal palace), the Lakshminath temple and the Jain temples which built between 12th and 15th centuries are dedicated to Rikhabdev and Sambhavanth.
The Havelis of Jaisalmer :The city of Jaisalmer is famous for its intricately latticed havelis. Built by wealthy merchants, these beautiful sandstone buildings are still in very good conditions even today.
- Patwon-Ki-Haveli : One of the most elaborate and magnificent of all Jaisalmer havelis, the Patwon-Ki-Havelibuilt by Guman Chand Patwa, one of the wealthiest merchant of the time took over fifty years to complete. Five storied high with some exquisite carved pillars and extensive corridors and chambers, it is divided into six apartments, two owned by archaeological Survey of India, two by families who operate craft-shops and two private homes. The haveli is built of yellow sandstone with a different design on every window and arch. As you enter the haveli through its magnificent arched gateway, you come across its delicately carved yellow-brown frontage with as many as 60 balconies overlooking it. There are remnants of paintings on some of the inside walls as well as some mirror work. One of the grandest mansions in Jaisalmer, the stone carving far surpasses in beauty the work on brocade and gold.
- Salim Singh ki Haveli : Belived to have been built about 300 years ago, the Salim Singh ki Haveli was the residence of the powerful Mohta clan - the hereditary ministers of the Jaisalmer rulers. Built in 1815 by Salim Singh, who was the prime minister when Jaisalmer was the capital of the princely state, the eight storied haveli boasts of 38 balconies, each with a different design. It also has a beautifully arched roof capped with blue cupolas and carved brackets in the form of peacocks. Located just below a hill, the haveli, it is said once had two additional wooden storey in an attempt to make it as high as the maharaja's palace, but the maharaja had the upper storey torn down. Today, a part of the haveli is still occupied.
- Nathmalji ki Haveli : The Nathmalji ki Haveli is a late 19th century mansion that was built for Diwan Mohata Nathmal, then Prime Minister of Jaisalmer. Designed by two Muslim brothers Hathi and Lulu, the left and right wings of the haveli was carved out differently by two brothers. Although the motif used by one is not similar to the other, yet they are in perfect harmony with each other and one has to look very closely to spot the dissimilarities. Mighty tuskers carved out of yellow sandstone stand guard to the haveli while the entire façade is embellished with a slew of detailing - horses, elephants, soldiers, flowers and birds. T he walls are dominated by beautiful miniature paintings.
Tazia Tower : Rising out of the Badal Mahal ( Palace of Clouds) as a crowning glory is the Tazia Tower. Built by m uslim craftsmen in the shape of a Tazia and gifted it to their royal patron , each storey of the five-tiered tower has a beautifully carved balcony.
Gadi Sagar Lake : A scenic rain water lake surrounded by small temples and shrines, the Gadi Sagar Lake located south of the city walls, once held the town water supply. The famed yellow sandstone gateway arching across the road down to the tank is the Tilon-ki-Pol, said to have been built by a famous courtesan, Telon, who installed a Krishna image atop the arched gateway to ward off the royal ire of the Maharaja, who had refused permission under the pretext that he would have to pass under it to go down to the tank which he felt would be beneath his dignity. Now, a picnic spot and ideal for boating, a wide variety of birds flock to the water hole during the winters.
The Lodhruva Jain Temples : Once the capital of Rawal Jaisal, Lodurva is an important centre of Jain pilgrimage. The temples at Lodurva exhibit fine examples of intricate craftsmanship on yellow stone. Ornately carved arches at the entrance (toranas), and a Kalputra, the Divine Tree are the main attraction here. Located 15 km from Jaisalmer, Lodhruva now lies in ruins with only the Jain temples acting as the sole witness to its erstwhile splendor.
- The Parswanath Temple : One of the oldest and the most beautiful of the Jain temples is the The Parswanath Temple. Its Torana Dwar or main archway is probably the most ornate of its kind in Rajasthan. The inner sanctum of the temple contains an image of Parshvanath in black stone with a multi-hooded serpent canopy while its walls are carved with animal and human figures. Rising above is a tall shikhar, which is crowned by an amalak and a water pot containing a lotus flower.
- Rishabhnath Temple : Located near the ruins of the palace of Moomal and the once gushing watercourse of the river Kak is the Rishabhnath Temple constructed in 1479 by a wealthy Marwari Seth Sachcha. The first of the Jain Tirthankars, his symbol coincidently was the bull- which also happens to be the vehicle of Lord Shiva.
- Shambhavanath Temple : A beautiful temple surmounted by an octagonal pyramidal roof, the Shambhavanath Temple is dedicated to Shambhavnath whose symbol is the horse. A temple in each corner of the complex is dedicated to a different saints; Rishabhnath in the southwest, Parshvanath in the northeast, Ajitanath (whose symbol is the elephant) in the southeast and of course Shambhavnath (of the horse symbol) in the northwest. All these temples date back from 1618.
- Gyan Bhandar or Library : Some of the oldest manuscripts of India are found in this library established as a part of Jain temples.
Desert Culture Centre and Museum : Situated near the Tourist Reception Centre, the Desert Culture Centre and Museum isa good place to visit to get a clear insight into the city’s past and present life. The Museum houses some antique old coins, fossils, textiles and traditional Rajasthani musical instruments. The museum is open from 9 am.-8 pm daily.
Jaisalmer Folklore Museum : Located on the road leading to the Gadi Sagar Lake, the Jaisalmer Folklore Museum houses some of Rajsthan’s exquisite folklore items. Opened from 8 am.-7 pm daily.
Government Museum : Situatedon Police Line Road near the RTDC Moomal Hotel, the Goverment Museum houses impressive collections of fossils dating back to the Jurassic era, ancient scripts, coins and sculptures from the ancient townships of Kiradu and Lodurva dating back to the 12th century. The museum remains open from 10 am.-4.30 pm everyday except holidays
Jaisalmer is not only one of the finest tourist destinations in Rajasthan but also an exciting place for shopping. One can shop here for embroidery, Rajasthani mirror work, rugs, blankets, old stonework, antiques and other exquisite handicrafts. Camel leather items, woven jackets, wooden boxes and ornaments, puppets and joothies are other popular items. The puppets in Jaisalmer make an excellent souvenir and the best place to buy them is from the puppet-makers' quarter located north of town immediately below the "Sunset Point"; to find it, pick your way through Bhatia Bazaar and follow the main arterial road north past the Narayan Niwas Palace hotel, turning left when you reach a junction that drops downhill past a row of painted mud-and-thatch houses.
The Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan (Seemagram) located not far from the fort is an excellent place to shop for Tie-dye and other fabrics while the ' Light of the East' located on the laneway leading up to the Jain temples sells crystal and rare mineral specimens. For tough and authentic richly patterned hand-loom shawls and woolen blankets, a visit to the Khurki and other villages near the Pakistani border is recommended. While, one can also visit the quaint town of Barmer for some exquisitely fashioned wooden and metal handicrafts and hand-block printed textiles with traditional designs and folk motifs.
Other areas where one can shop include the Manak Chowk famous for local products, the Sadar Bazaar and Sonaron Ka Bas, Pansari Bazaar, Gandhi Chowk and the Rajasthali -Government emporium.
If you are in a mood for some hot tangy food, then Jaisalmer is just the place for you. The food of Jaisalmer is characterized by a liberal use of red chilli and ginger and its no wonder that the golden city is renowned as the center for fiery Rajasthani cuisine. One can try the city's special gatta curry, macchi/maas sulas, lal/safed maas and the ever present ker-sangri at any of the hotels and resturants located nearby. For those with an incurable sweet tooth, on offer are a variety of gram-flour and milk sweetmeats which are guaranteed to tempt even the most jaded palate. Besides, traditional Rajasthani Cuisine, the city has a number of hotels, restaurants and fast food joints catering to needs distinct palate of its tourists.
For those interested in savoring delectable Indian cuisine, try the Kalpana Restaurant, the 8th July Restaurant and Trio-one of Jaisalmer longest running restaurants. For some Chinese and Fast Food fare, Monica and Top Deck are the best while Continental Food can be obtained through the local hotel restaurants and dining areas but it is generally recommended that you stick with the hotel eateries.
A few other eating joints in Jaisalmer are :
Coffee Shops :
- Dhanraj Bhatia Sweets- Famous for its ghotua and Panchadhari Laddos
- The Rawal - Continental and Chinese food
- Mid Town- Rajasthani Thali
- German Bakery - Bakery items
- Bhang Lassi Shop -Govt. Approved Lassi Shop
- Vyas Meal Service- Home cooked Vegetarian fare
- Refreshing Point Rooftop Restaurant - A multi cuisine restaurant