Jaisalmer – Top 10 things to see and do

Shopping spot

This was not my first trip to Rajasthan. Having traveled to Jaipur, Ajmer and Jodhpur before, Jaisalmer had been on my wish list for a very long time. Already have seen historical places, hill stations and mountains, the desert still remained to be explored. Finally as decided to celebrate New Year again reached Rajasthan. I wrote about my visit at Blue City Jodhpur & after finished we were on the way to Golden city by road from Jodhpur. Looking beyond the color the desolate road from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer is peaceful in its seclusion; the sense is one of pastoral calm, not brooding melancholy. Cows settle on the roads like bitter gossips, loath to get up even when goaded by a booted foot. Camels, managing to look both regal and dim-witted at the same time, wander aimlessly down the streets, pulling low carts and frustrated owners behind them.

on the way

on the way

Jaisalmer, the Golden City, the heart of the famous Thar Desert is considered to be the poster city of “Incredible India”, Jaisalmer with its rich and colorful cultural heritage is indeed a unique tourist destination revered both by Indians as well as foreign tourists. Jaisalmer is known for its enchanting sand dunes, marvelous golden palace, ornate Jain temples and the myriad lists of places to visit. The finely sculptured monuments in this city have successfully retained all its glory, cultural diversity, vibrant glory and the richness of a bygone era. Be it the camel safaris, the ascetic beauty of the surrounding, the city reflects the timeless beauty of a legacy left behind by the rulers . We had an excellent driver cum Guide Salim drove us the beautiful journey of city to Desert & depicted the history of the city with all aspects.

Here are top 10 things to see and do at Golden City:

Complete view of Sonar Quila

Complete view of Sonar Quila

1. Jaisalmer fort is one of the largest forts around the world. Located on the Tirukuta Hill, this fort was built by Rao Jaisal, one of the mightiest rulers of Jaislamer. Due to its location at the golden stretches of the Thar Desert, made of yellow sandstone this fort is also known as the ‘Sonar Quila’ or the ‘Golden Fort’ , this living fort with quarter of the city’s population is one of the largest forts of the world. The golden color to the fort that lures tourists from all over the world. Interior of the fort is packed with palaces, havelis, temples, handicraft shops with winding stone paved lanes.

Gate no-1 ganesh pol

Gate no-1 ganesh pol

We infront of king palace

We infront of king palace

Jaisalmer fort by nightfall is a sight to breathtaking with all the romance and mystery. The fort looks magical when it is lit up at night. The fort walls provide superb views over the old city and surrounding desert. Strolling around the outer fort ramparts is a popular activity at sunset. Jaisalmer Fort rises like a mirage from the sands, with its huge turrets pointing skywards. 30 feet high wall and with as many as 99 bastions is indeed one of the most marvelous and magical structure of Rajasthan.

Queen's Palace

Queen’s Palace

City view from palace

City view from palace

Cherish your day with Beautiful Jain Temple :-

Jain temple

Jain temple

Jain temple is located within the boundaries of the Jaisalmer fort. This temple is a must visit on a Jaisalmer tour. Craved of yellow sandstones and built in the Dilwara style these Jain temples stands as a testimony to cities glorious past, religious fervor and splendorous architectural skills. Carved lotus symbols on the temple domes, number of stone sculptures and captions of on the temple walls, rich carvings of animal and human figures and the sense of calmness and serenity makes the Jain temples one of the most popular and sought after tourist destinations of Jaisalmer.

Beautiful arctitecture at roof

Beautiful arctitecture at roof

We

We

13. Temple wall decorated as Ajanta Elora design

3. Quick View to visit Gadisar Lake :-

View of lake

View of lake

The famous Gadisar Lake when we visited turns into a pond with surrounded by dirty water & smell of cow dung. I was bit surprised to see the condition of the symbol of peace and prosperity. It was once a water reservoir to the whole of Rajasthan & now tourist hardly pay attention here.
The entrance to the Gadisar Lake is through a magnificent and artistically carved yellow sandstone archway that is known as the Tilon-Ki-Pol. Artistically carved Chattris, Temples, Shrines and Ghats surrounding the banks of the Lake coupled with its tranquil water make it an ideal place to spend time in a serene atmosphere.

Me with mom

Me with mom

4. Definitely do some shopping at Patwon ki Haveli:-

Patwon ki haveli

Patwon ki haveli

The Patwon ki Haveli is considered to be one of the most important Havelis of Jaisalmer because of two important things: it was the first Haveli to be ever built in Jaisalmer and it is a cluster of 5 different havelis making it one of the biggest Havelis. The other name given to this Haveli is the “mansion of brocade merchants” because the Patwa family used to deal in gold and silver. The exteriors and interiors of this haveli are expositions of fine craftsmanship. Walls of the haveli are decorated with intricate carvings and murals and are painted in golden colour.

Street view

Street view

Inside the haveli there is a large collection of t-shirts, bangles, ear rings, kundan jewelries, key rings, hats, vibrant umbrellas, multi-color mirror oriented dresses with an un-believable price will surely leave you spellbound!

5. Spot Wild Life in Desert National Park:-

Unlike the other national parks in India, this park lies barren and is formed by sand-dunes, rocky surfaces and salt lake bottoms. The park also has some of the fixed dunes spreading throughout its length and breadth around 3100 square kilometers. Chinkara, Indian Fox, Black buck, Peacocks, Hare and Desert Cat are some of the most commonly found animals in this park. Considerable number of sand-grouses can also be seen near the water holes. During the mornings, you can witness the abundant activity of early birds such as the grey partridge for instance. Amongst the birds, the Great Indian Bustard or the state bird of Rajasthan is found in abundance in this park.

6.Have Some Spooky experience with Abandoned Kuldhara:-

Abandoned village

Abandoned village

Located 18 km away from Jaisalmer, the way to desert Kuldhara village is known as the ghost village. Lying abandoned from the past few centuries, this village has no signs of human life and is also known as one of the haunted places in Rajasthan. A clan of eighty-five villages, Kuldhara was once inhabited by the Paliwal Brahmins, but due to some adverse happenings, the natives evacuated the village within a night. It is also said that while leaving the village, the villagers put a curse on it. According to the curse, anyone dwelling within the village will have to meet a fearful fate, death in the worst cases!

empty house

empty house

(I will elaborate more about haunted experience at Kuldhara soon)

7. Must Visit Desert Culture Centre and Museum:-

A must visit to this place reveals a lot about the people and their cultures of this region. Abundant with artefacts and items of cultural interest, the museum displays rare Rajasthani textiles, utensils, and weapons. There is also a collection of musical instruments which are rarely seen today. The museum displays ‘Karal’, an opium mixing box is one of the most popular attractions among the tourists. It is believed that the use of opium was common several centuries ago in Rajasthan where it was used as a substance to relax and rejuvenate. The museum also has some of the ancient scriptures written by ancient poets and litterateurs.

8.Must try Rajasthani heritage food:-

Dal bati Choorma

Dal bati Choorma

Rajasthanis love their food and it is evident in their preparations. Dal Bati Churma, ker sangria and Laal Maas are the most famous dishes from the state. Every food enthusiast must have tasted them at least once. One sweet name still watering mouth is Godwa. Your trip to Rajasthan is incomplete if you haven’t experienced their scrumptious dishes.

9.Place for shopaholic: –

Shopping spot

Shopping spot

In my each & every travel I always love to buy many things which mesmerize me the smell of that region. So as a shopaholic I must say shopping in Jaisalmer is an unique experience. The markets at Sadar Bazaar, Sonaron Ka Bas, Manak Chowk and Pansari Bazaar are quite good. Look for camel leather goods and Rajasthani embroidery. You can also head to the government run shops – Khadi gramodyog bhandar, and Rajasthali. They have a beautiful collection of authentic Rajasthani goods with exorbitant price tags that appear to fleece the tourists.

10. Free you dreams at enchanting Desert:-

Camel riding

Camel riding

A visit to Jaisalmer is seldom complete without a visit to the khuri in the Thar Desert. Among the many enchanting places to see in Jaisalmer, the sand dunes in desert are the most striking sites to behold. Appearing to be itsy-bitsy mountains in the heart of Thar Desert, these sand dunes are the ideal places to relinquish oneself into the vicinity of the desert and admire its delightfulness. Located on the outskirts of Jaisalmer, Khuri sand dunes are a popular visiting spot. The Khuri village is one of the best places to visit in Jaisalmer to witness how people live in a desert. You can see the many mud and straw houses at Khuri. These homes have impressive exterior decorations. Camel riding is one of the main activities in this village and while visiting this village, you can explore the vast expanses of the desert outskirts on a camel back. The crests and troughs of the dunes will intrigue you. Some dunes reach mesmerizing heights.Whilst experiencing the terrain of the desert, you can also visit the local settlements to experience the culture. Sit in the verandas of the straw thatched homes. The music of the Kalbeliyas is something you should not miss when at the Khuri Sand Dunes.

enjoying the view

enjoying the view

 folk dance

folk dance

The vast expanse of the Khuri Sand Dunes stretches into the horizon. It is a unique adventure activity where you feel like a nomad wandering through the desert in search of an oasis. Campfires with folk dance at night are one of the main attractions in this region. During sunset the place becomes magical. Watching the sand dunes in the faint orange glow of the sun with the ballads of the legendary lovers playing in the background is bound to make you completely speechless.

I had a lasting impression for Jaisalmer. Even as the Jaisalmer fort became smaller in the mirror of the car, the impression on my mind made its mark forever.

  • Uday Baxi

    Dear Pamela

    An excellent post.

    The picture of “beautiful structure at roof” of the Jain Temple has come out very well even though the net causes some hindrances there. I had found those nets on the ceiling very irritating when I went there in 2010, even though I know that such nets are for preservation.

    Good to see that you have enjoyed the The Dunes and the Kalbelia dance. How was your experience of riding a camel on the dunes?

    Thanks.

    • Dear Uday,

      Thank you for this inspiring comment.

      Yeah I was stunned to see the roof as well as the beautiful carves of the jain temple. Really gave me the goosebumps to visualize the spellbound architectural creativity.

      I have seen the dance as well as listen their folk song & that night experience with their special thali with the combination of Dance-Song just awestruck….But its sad that being so cultural & hospitality oriented they are soo pure which we urban people can not imagine itself .

      Hahah ride on camel was just as good as any nobish start her/his first swimming :P

  • Archana Ravichander

    Your post is as interesting as Jaisalmer itself!
    Your post has color, vibrance, content and of course a lot of experience in it which helps us readers to live the journey you have experienced!

    Thanks for touring us through the city of culture, color and recreation!

    Best.

    • Dear Archana,

      Thank you so much for your excellent comment.

      I m so glad that you like my post. Yeah Jaisalmer itself a very beautiful & colorful city that any one can fall in love easily. :) ..

  • Kathie Brobeck

    Wish they could move the car park around the corner. The entry Pol is gorgeous and having cars there is a real eyesore!
    I saw the tank when it pristine, a cold winter morning in ’86.

    • Yes you are right Kathie,

      The government of Jaisalmer need to take more care of the city & palaces. I even sad to see the condition of Gadhisar Lake ; the pathetic smell & cow-dung every where.

  • Anupam

    Nice, colourful, informative and interesting post! Good to read your travel stories, Pamela!

  • The colours of this post does take one away from where they are. We visited Jaisalmer 7-8 years back and everything look same. :-). I guess the place is called , ‘Sum Dunes’, the venue for the evening song-n-dance sequence. Probably Khuri is another name.

    Pam, it is a good concise list for anyone wanting to make the most of their desert tour. Thank you.

    • Hii Nandan,

      Yes there are two different places in Jaisalmer Sam Dunes & Khuri. I visited Khuri & Sam Dunes around 40 kilometer away from Khuri in another direction.

      Yup our Rajasthan need some more tourist to enrich their hospitality & cost of living. :)

  • Savita Dutta

    Namaskar Sir

    I like your visit stories too very much. I had been to Jaisalmer in the year 2007 (December). Enjoyed ride also. I visited Jodhpur, Bikaner and Jaisalmer. Somehow it is my dream to visit Kota also. I don’t know why but I want to see that place. None in my relations also stay there but still in my imaginations I feel like going to Kota some day. I love Lucknow. I have read about Sita Maiya Samahit sthal just today. Divine Thanks to you for sharing your visits, experience etc. Please inform about Kota, if ever you have or will be visiting there. My blessings for all your family members.

    Savita Dutta

    • Namaskar Savita Ji,

      I am so glad that you read my post & you liked it. :) .. I have almost visited or completed max pat of Rajasthan. Definitely being Indian we are always keen to see the epic Ramayana & you can not believe that I found Mandodari’s maternal home at Jodhpur. I will publish the story soon here.

      As per my knowledge Kota is in Gujrat. i will surely provide info if I will get any news on it :)

      Regards
      Pamela

      • Savita Dutta

        Pamela
        Namaskar

        I thank you for your reply. Kota is in Rajasthan near Bundi but in Gujrat it is Kachch. However do visit anytime kota and inform accordingly.

        With best regards

        Savita Dutta

  • sudeep banerjee

    I have been to Jaisalmer twice. The first time was in 1999, when I actually trekked through the desert, visiting these places at leisure. The second time was in 2005, when I took my family around by car, showing them the glories of the place. Yes, it is a fascinating place, and one never ceases to be amazed by the grandeur, regardless of the number of times one visits. In 2005 I saw the Gadhai Sagar in its full glory as the city had received a good monsoon that year. To see the lake in that state is definitely a far different experience!
    Pamela and Angela’s article has brought back the vivid memories. Thank you both for that.
    There are, however, a few more interesting places around Jaisalmer , like the Fossil Park at Akarphata. Then the old capital of Lodharva and Damodara has some beautiful Jain architecture. Ram Deora has the Royal Chhatris that stand out beautifully against the backdrop of the Windmills. Then, of course, if one has the time and inclination, one may choose to visit Tanot, a small border village which houses the famous military temple of Tanot Devi. En route, one will also get to see the Ghantiyali temple and the great sand dune present there. The sand dune of Ghantiyali even dwarfs the ones we see in Sam and Khuri. And if you travel down the road further, you’ll reach the Logewala Border outpost, where the relics of the famous Indo-Pak tank battle can be seen.

    • Dear Sir,

      I am so much happy that you read my post & liked it.When we visited Gadhisar lake it was full with cow dung, not renovated by Government; sad to see this. We had very short span of time so could not see the Fossil Park, Tanat Temple… but thank you for the information, next time will not skip these places…

      Take Care
      Pamela

  • Santanu

    Pamela,
    Your travelogue enabled me to make a virtual tour. Pictures are excellent and full of life. Even I was trying to take away Rajasthani food from my computer screen. You have presented a well narrated story to the readers. Looking towards getting more in future.
    Regards
    Santanu

    • Dear Santanu,

      Thank you so much that You liked my post. Surely will update more post :)

      Regards
      pamela