Rajasthan, meaning the ‘Land of Kings’, is the largest state in India and is located in the western part of the country. It has a very rich history dating 5000 years, and has been ruled by different empires including the Rajputs, Marathas and the British. Hence the name of the state. The Thar Desert covers a large part of the state, giving rise to unique flora and fauna. Rajasthan is also home to two National Tiger Reserves where tigers can be spotted in good quantity especially in the wake hours in the summers.
Rajasthan is famous for two very unique aspects: Its Forts/Palaces and the hospitality of its lovely people. Its tourism tagline ‘Padhaaro Mahre Desh’, or ‘You are truly welcome to visit my land’ depicts the sense of hospitality of the locals.
During our short trip to Rajasthan, we decided to visit the city of ‘Jaisalmer’ also known as the ‘Golden City’, Golden being the primary color everywhere in the city. It is located on the westernmost frontier of the country and borders Pakistan. Due to its location and historical importance, it offers an opportunity to experience great architectures, palaces, royalty and amazing food.
At a Glimpse
- Best time to visit: November to early March
- Desert festival happens in Feb every year. Do look out for the dates online as this is the most vibrant time of the visit.
- Hydrate yourself very well.
- Balance the trip with leisure and tourism. Jaisalmer offers opportunities to immerse yourself in the ocean of hospitality
- Variety of options are available for accommodation including tents in sand dunes, palaces converted to hotels and airbnbs. We stayed in Fort Rajwada.
- Do spend time to see Bada Bagh garden complex and Khuri village for sand dunes.
- My 3 days itinerary included:
- Day 1: Jaisalmer Fort, Jain Temple & Gadsisar Lake (Guide services are highly recommended)
- Day 2: Tanot Mata Temple, Sand Dunes (Saam Village), Desert Safari
- Day 3: Patwa Ki Haveli
Day 1: Jaisalmer Fort, Jain Temples & Gadsisar Lake
We started our day with a visit to the Jaisalmer Fort. Built in 1156 AD, it is one of the world’s largest “living” fort as it presently houses over 3000 people.
The fort is made from yellow sandstone which is unique to this city. Even today, the modern architectures here (like houses, temples etc.), are built from this sandstone, to maintain its ‘Golden Heritage’
In addition to the intriguing architecture, the fort houses plenty of ancient articles and weaponry including the canons. These canons made from cast iron were located in the strategic locations in the fort to prevent enemy attacks.
Jaisalmer fort houses quite a few beautiful and historic temples. The most notable being the interconnected necklace of 7 Jain Temples. You will be amazed to see the innate carving on the Yellow sandstone dating back to 11th and 12th century AD. Do not miss it for anything in the world! These temples are active religious places and are open for tourists from morning till 12 Noon. I recommend you to wake up early, to avoid the crowd and experience the grandeur architecture.
As you walk across the streets, you can find plenty of beautiful temples spread across the city.
This part of the world is know for some of the best and unique delicacies. These include ‘Daal Baati’, ‘Churma’, ‘Onion Kachori’, ‘Green Chilli Pakoda’, ‘Sweet (Mawa) Kachori’ etc. Most of the roadside shops will prepare these, giving you an opportunity to try them fresh. Do mention your preferred level of spice while ordering food.
We ended our day with a trip to the Gadsisar lake. This artificial lake, named after Rawal Gadsi Singh in 14th century and has been named after him. It used to be the only source of water in the city at that time. People used to fill earthen pots with water from the lake for their family use.
We spent our evening walking around on the streets and waited for the sun set. At dusk, the entire fort is lighted up with yellow lights. Yellow sandstone, shining in yellow lights is an amazing view.
Day 2: Tanot Mata Temple, Sand Dunes (Saam Village), Desert Safari
Tanot Mata temple, located at the Pakistan border, is next to ‘Longewala’, a battle ground for Indo-Pakistan war of 1971. There is a legendary story behind this temple. During the 1971 war, some of the Indian soldiers had to take refuge in the temple, while awaiting support from Border Security Force. Pakistani army dropped over 3000 bombs, targeting the temple and the soldiers inside it. Miraculously, none of the bombs exploded and the soldiers were safe while the Border Security Force arrived for rescue. Till date, this temple holds the force together and is visited by various followers from around the country. It is now maintained and protected by the Border Security Force.
Post the visit to the temple, one can visit the highly sensitive ‘India-Pakistan’ Border and see the reminiscent of the 1971 war.
Then came the most awaited experience of the trip. The desert safari in the Sand Dunes at the Saam Village! Camel, also known as the ‘Ship of the Desert’ is a proud possession in this part of the world. The owners beautifully adorn the camels with colorful clothing and frills, which in itself is an amazing sight.
We jumped onto the camels and started our rickety rickety ride through the barren desert. It was one of my best rides ever!
There are plenty of tent accommodation in the sand dunes, which indeed is an adventurous way to spend a night or two. We missed this opportunity but I highly recommend it, to experience the desert life! After the desert safari, we saw the traditional and vibrant Kalbaliya dance and Fire performances by the local artists. Overall, another incredible day with lots of exciting experiences!
Day 3: Patwa Ki Haveli
This day was quite relaxing for us. After a heavy breakfast, we went on to see, ‘Patwa Ki Haveli’. ‘Haveli’, in Indian context is a large mansion with very elaborate architecture owned primarily by rich businessmen.
‘Patwa ki Haveli’ is one of the most famous Havelis in India and is a cluster of 5 different havelis. Guman Chand Patwa, a famous jewelry and fine brocade trader, constructed this haveli in the 1805 over the span of 50 years for his 5 sons.
The compound retains its authenticity and has preserved the articles used by Patwas in their time. The royalty of their living can be witnessed by the adorable architecture, incredible yellow stone carving and historic wall paintings.
In summary, these are just few of the things which we decided to see, but there is a lot more to explore in the ‘Golden City’ of Jaisalmer. We went on a leisure vacation so we didn’t try to squeeze everything in this short trip.
Millions of tourists visit this royal city of forts and palaces every year. If ever you ever plan to come to this incredible country, do visit this warm and welcoming city of Jaisalmer!