Nothing else in India is remotely similar to Jaisalmer. Its desert fort, which resembles a gigantic sandcastle, is straight out of ‘The Thousand and One Nights’. There are many havelis which can be found elsewhere in Rajasthan, but nowhere are they quite as exquisite as in Jaisalmer. Even the humblest shops and houses display something of the Rajput love of the decorative arts. There is a down side to Jaisalmer becoming one of Rajasthan’s most popular tourist destinations. Jaisalmer is a great place to simply wander. The old city was once completely surrounded by an extensive wall, much of which has sadly been ripped away in recent times for building material. Some of it remains, however, including the city gates and, inside them, the massive fort which rises above the city and is the essence of Jaisalmer. The main market area is directly below the hill, while the banks, the new palace and several other shops and offices are near the Amar Sagar Gate to the west.
The Jaisalmer Fort is the most alive of any museum, fort or palace that you are likely to visit in India. It was built in 1156 by the Rajput ruler Jaisala. About a quarter of the old city’s population resides within the fort walls. The fort is entered through a forbidding series of massive gates leading to a large courtyard.
Tazia Tower: The delicate pagoda like Tazia Tower rises from Badal Mahal (Cloud Palace). Rising in its five tiered splendour, with each storey graced by a delicately carved balcony, the tower is of historical significance.
Gadisar Lake: A scenic rain water lake with numerous beautiful shrines around. The lake is an idyllic spot for outings.
Jain Temples: Within the fort walls are a group of beautifully carved Jain temples built between the 12th and 15th centuries. They are dedicated to Rikhabdev and Sambhavanth. Gyan Bhandar or Library : Some of the oldest manuscripts of India are found in this library established as a part of Jain temples.
Havelis: The impressive mansions built by the wealthy merchants of Jaisalmer are known as havelis, and several of these fine sandstone buildings are still in good condition.
Salim Singh-Ki-Haveli was built about 300 years ago and part of it is still occupied. Salim Singh was the prime minister when Jaisalmer was the capital of a princely state, and his mansion has a beautifully arched roof with superb carved brackets in the form of peacocks. The mansion is just below the hill and it is said, once had two additional wooden storeys in an attempt to make it as high as the Maharaja’s palace, but the maharaja had the upper storeys torn down.
Patwon-Ki-Haveli: It is one of the largest and most elaborate houses in Jaisalmer. It is five storeys high, extensively carved. It is divided into six apartments, two owned by the Archaeological Survey of India, Two by families who operate craft shops here, and two private homes.
Nathmalji-Ki-Haveli: This late 19th century haveli was also a prime minister’s house. This haveli was carved by two brothers, one working on the right side and the other on the left. Yellow sandstone elephants guard the building, and even the front door is a work of art.
By Air: Indian Airlines operates flights to Jodhpur, Jaipur, Mumbai and Delhi from Jaisalmer.
By Bus: There are many deluxe buses operating daily from Jaisalmer to Jodhpur, Jaipur, Bikaner.
By Train: There are two trains 1JPJ and Jodhpur express which operates daily from Jaisalmer to Jodhpur.