The boldness and magnetism of Jaisalmer (nicknamed “The Golden City”) cannot be expressed in mere words. A lot of sightseers from every nook and corner of the world flock to Jaisalmer – a major tourist destination, which is located in the state of Rajasthan in India. When exploring the best of all that grand Rajasthan has in its store, a visit to Jaisalmer is a must. Its abundant golden dunes and castles fully clad in golden honey sandstones are something you won’t even think of overlooking.
Make sure you go for a camel safari in the desert. Making your way through the vast desert under the moonlit sky adds to your golden memories. Several old historical monuments in the city of Jaisalmer represent the magnificence of the Kingdom rule in Rajasthan. The city of Jaisalmer is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the presence of several forts as well as monuments.
With a plethora of tourist attractions, Jaisalmer takes immense pride in, listed below are the top twenty that catch the attention of holidaymakers and welcome them with arms wide open.
1. Jaisalmer Fort:
Located on Trikuta Hill, Jaisalmer fort is the second largest fort in the state. Truth be told, it happens to be the central and not to mention, the most crucial icon of Jaisalmer. Built by Rajput ruler Rao Jaisal in 1156 AD, who was one of the powerful rulers of Jaisalmer, the fort is a majestic and colossal yellow sandstone fortress that has gloriously maintained the Raj Mahal and a myriad of havelis, temples, and gateways.
The two canon points, which are located at vantage points with Jaisalmer Fort, give locals and tourists alike an incredibly breathtaking view of the city. The fort was called “Golden Fort” or “Sonar Quila” by the locals of Jaisalmer, as it signified golden aura during sundown.
2. Camel Safari:
If there is anything that considered the best way to explore the enormous sand dunes and stretches of seclusion is a camel safari. You can find several tour operators that arrange these safaris for the customers visiting the city of Jaisalmer for the first or fifth time. Right from a single day stopover to expeditions for over a month during which items of use, including food, shelter, and water (to name a few) are taken along.
A camel safari tout operator would also provide you with an escort, so you can look forward to getting the most of your Jaisalmer trip. For the majority of tourists, a camel safari happens to be one of the most unforgettable experiences of the city. You will take sheer pleasure in the local culture, capturing amazing views and other sights during the day while taking a nap under the layer of stars at night will blow your mind.
3. Gadsisar Lake:
The Gadsisar Lake was constructed by Maharwal Gadsi Singh, the then Maharaja of Jaisalmer, in 1400 AD. It is one of the major sightseeing spots for tourists arriving in the city. However, this lake is not an oasis but a conservation reservoir for the harvesting of rainwater. In fact, it is one of the major water sources for the entire Jaisalmer town.
This reservoir, which has been named after Maharaja, has been added to the list of some of the most visited places in Jaisalmer. Located on the city’s outskirts, it’s a peaceful getaway to have peace of mind from the hustle and bustle of the city life.
4. Jaisalmer Desert Festival:
Exerting a pull on tourists not only in India but all around the world, the Jaisalmer Desert Festival is the main highlight. It’s packed with various draws and extravaganzas that will keep you entertained and busy throughout your Jaisalmer trip. There are several cultural events that are organized during this amazing festival, such as turban tying competitions, camel races, etc. Even many folk songs and dance performances are organized that primarily focus on the rich cultural heritage and traditions of Rajasthan.
Other than enjoying at the festival, you can take a camel safari for the Thar Desert and enjoy the folk performances by the locals. This striking festival is concluded with an incredible musical performance by folk singers under the moonlit sky on the Sam sand dunes, which are located outside of Jaisalmer.
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5. Salim Singh Ki Haveli:
Salim Singh Ki Haveli, which is built with incredibly elegant architecture, draws a lot of travelers from far and wide. The present structure of this majestic was commissioned by Salim Singh in 1815 – the Prime Minister of the kingdom. The haveli is literally embellished with a great design. Like all other havelis, Salim Singh Ki Haveli is adorned with sand-stone made tuskers that give an appealing look to the haveli.
6. Kuldhara Village:
Located around 20 kilometres from the city of Jaisalmer is Kuldhara Village – one of the most exciting and intriguing attractions. This village with its fair share of myths and legends is considered spooky and haunted by many.
Its deserted and unnatural appearance makes it one of the most explored attractions. However, there have been stories of paranormal activities, but nobody was able to provide any solid evidence of the existence of supernatural creatures. Being in this village is an experience in its own.
7. Patwon Ki Haveli:
One of the must-visit attractions, Patwon Ki Haveli has its own historical significance. It was the first haveli to be constructed in the city of Jaisalmer. Furthermore, it is a congregation of 5 havelis built together, which is unique in every sense of the word. This haveli has been used by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Art and Craft Department of Rajasthan.
8. Desert National Park:
The largest of its kind in India, Desert National Park draws a lot of people from across the globe. Situated near Jaisalmer, covering an area of 3162 sq kms, this park covers a massive area that extends from the city all the way to India-Pakistan border. Despite being located right in the middle of the desert, the desert national park pours a great opportunity on tourists to come across interesting wildlife, including chinkara, Bengal fox, wolves, the Blackbuck, and many more.
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The entire area is encompassed with spiky bushes, a couple of desert plants, and cacti. Opting for a jeep safari is the smartest move you can make, if you are looking to explore the majestic wildlife. You will get to experience adventure every step of the way. The Great Indian Bustard, one of the birds’ rarest species, is also found here.
9. Bada Bagh:
Bada Bagh or “The Big Garden” is a renowned tourist attraction within the city. It is loaded with amazing frames and complexes within its surrounding area. Ordered by Maharwal Jait Singh in the early 16th century, this garden was actually completed by his son Lunakaran after he left for his heavenly abode.
Bada Bagh has three primary attractions: a tank, a dam, and a garden. Also, there is a central pillar, which is known as Govardhan Stambh, which was constructed to honor the building of the tank and the dam. The stunningly beautiful carved Cenotaphs sprinkled all over the area are a great highlight. These cenotaphs (also called chattris in a local language) depict the rulers of the area. The oldest ruler among all is Maharwal Jait Singh who had his reign over the city somewhere around 1470-1506.
10. Tanot Mata Temple:
There is no denying the fact that the amazing convention of Indians with paranormal has been known since time immemorial. In fact, there are innumerable tales of such kind in the popular folklore throughout the olden times. Tanot Mata Temple is associated with one such spellbinding story due to which the temple has become one of the most popular spots for tourists.
Legend has it none of the bombs, which were dropped by the Pakistan army during the controversial India Pakistan war of 1965, exploded. Many bombs were dropped by the army to annihilate the temple, but none of them hit the temple. Hence, the temple came to be known as the one with magical powers.
11. Jain Temples:
Situated in the Jaisalmer Fort is a group of magnificently built temples with carved structures, which portray pictures of animals, sages, hermits, and many more. These temples are constructed in the Dilwara style, which is renowned all around the world for its architecture, and are dedicated to Rikhabdevji and Shambhavdev Ji – the famous hermits called ‘Tirthankars’.
Being a vital spot for pilgrimage, visiting Jain Temples is a great thing to do, if you are fond of history and religion. All the seven temples are constructed with the same golden-yellow Jaisalmeri stone and connected to each other. When you visit the Jain Temples, each of them will appear as a riddle and they have their own tale to tell. The ones dedicated to Sambhavnath, Parsvanath, Chandraprabhu, and Rishabhdev are laden with the most wonderful carvings.
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12. Paliwal Village and the Silk Route:
The Paliwal Brahmins used to be one of the most significant and eminent people of the state who used to live around 11th to 16th century. Being merchants, they not only designed but developed home-grown irrigation systems which have still proven immensely beneficial for the people living in the city. These irrigation systems help them in cultivating varied crops, including chana, bajra, and vegetables in the desert region. Moreover, the Paliwals were very successful businessmen and they traded in a number of items along the well-known Silk Route with China. But they abandoned the village one day as their drinking water supply was poisoned.
13. Khuri Sand Dunes:
Khuri Sand Dunes, located on the outskirts of the Golden City, are a popular tourist spot. The Khuri village is one of the most amazing places to explore in town that will make you witness how people live in a desert. You can come across numerous mud and straw houses at this village. All houses have a striking exterior decoration.
Don’t forget to do camel riding, which is one of the major activities in this hamlet. And the crests and troughs will fascinate you deep inside. If you are into music, then you must not miss the music of the Kalbeliyas at the Khuri Sand Dunes. These dunes are an ideal place if you are looking for unmatched privacy riding your camel through into deserted areas. You may feel like a wanderer who is travelling through the desert searching for an oasis.
14. Shantinath Temple:
Situated inside the Jaisalmer Fort is the Shantinath Temple. This holy place of worship is visited by many for its outstanding architectural style and spectacular sandstone carvings. Dedicated to Shri Shantinath, who is affectionately referred to as a Jain Tirthankara, this temple is one of the seven famous within the fortress. Standing in the shape of a regally carved, stunning idol enticing many pilgrims from all over the country, the Shantinath Temple dates back to the 16th century, and it holds spiritual importance among its believers.
15. Tazia Tower:
Do you have a weakness for the Rajputana architectures? If your answer is ‘yes’, then a visit to Tazia Tower is what you should look forward to. This tower is situated in the ‘Badal Palace’ complex and was once homes of the erstwhile royal family. A 5-storied structure with each story depicting significance in its own, a balcony on each floor is well-known for its individual design.
Built by Muslim craftsmen, this tower is based on the shape of Tazia, which is nothing but a replica of the mausoleum of many Imams. The construction of this tower is made of thermocol, colored papers, and wood. Tazia Tower was gifted by the architects to the then royal patrons as a mark of respect.
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16. Jaisalmer War Museum:
The historical war museum was set up by the Indian Army in Jaisalmer, which is the first-of-its-kind. Popularly known as JWM, this memorial establishment is dedicated to the war heroes of our great country. This museum is commemorated for the daring act as well as the sacrifice made by the Indian soldiers during the Indo-Pak War in 1965 and the Longewala battle in 1971.
This museum offers every tourist a visual treat by showcasing all those vintage pieces of equipment that were used by the Indian Army during the wars. Some of them include guns, weapons, tanks, war trophies, and military vehicles. It is distanced to be around 10 kilometres from the city centre. The museum is bordered by wide plain grounds and dust-filled bushes to create war base like ambience.
17. Nathmal Ki Haveli:
Nathmal Ji ki haveli is one of the most intriguing structures in the state of Rajasthan that was commissioned by Maharwal Beri Sal. It used to be the residence of the Diwan Mohata Nathmal, who was the former Prime Minister of Jaisalmer. This haveli was designed by the brother architect duo of Hathi and Lulu.
It is said that the two brothers began the construction of the building at the same time with different aspects. One of the biggest facets of the haveli that’s worth a notice is the depiction of contemporary amenities, such as fans, cars, etc. on its walls that were not seen, but only heard of by the architects.
18. Longewala War Memorial:
This memorial is the spot where the battle of Longewala was fought between India and Pakistan. Just 12 kilometres from Pakistan, it is the last point up to which civilians are allowed. Maintained by the Indian Army, the museum was built right on the battle spot. This area literally faces severe conditions. The temperature in the summer usually goes beyond 50°C. You can witness the actual jeeps, weapons, and battle tanks that were used in the battle in the memorial. Also, the museum houses the bunkers that were used by the Indian soldiers.
19. Surya Gate:
Situated in the Thar Desert, Surya Gate is one of the doors of the Jaisalmer Fort, which was built in the twelfth century. Tourists need to go through four doors: Akhai Gate, Surya Gate, Ganesh Gate, and Hawa Gate to get to castles.
20. Vyas Chhatri:
Vyas Chhatri is a collection of golden sandstones, which stands as an edifice of the architecture in Rajasthan. It was built to commemorate Sage Vyasa, who compiled the 300,000 verses of the great Indian epic Mahabharata. It is a 15th-century spot, which has become popular for tourists. The cenotaph which is dedicated to the Sage is situated north of the entire structure. Make sure you carry a camera, as this tourist spot is a photographer’s delight. The Vyas Chhatri is a strong remembrance of all those valiant souls who walked on the soil.
If you are looking to give a touch of discovery ancient forts and palaces, rooftops with breathtaking views, tombs, temples, lakes, and so on, a trip to the Golden City will be etched in your mind for years. However, the main attraction of Rajasthan’s one of the most explored cities is the Thar Desert.