Jaisalmer, nicknamed "The Golden city", is a town in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It is located 575 kilometres (357 mi) west of the state capital Jaipur. It was once known as Jaisalmer state. The town stands on a ridge of yellowish sandstone, crowned by a fort, which contains the palace and several ornate Jain temples. Many of the houses and temples are finely sculptured. It lies in the heart of the Thar Desert (great Indian desert) and has a population of about 78,000. It is the administrative headquarters of Jaisalmer District.
PLACES TO VISIT
Amar SaggarAmar Sagar Lake:
6 kms. on way to Luderwa the natural spot developed by Maharawal Amar Singh is a water reservoir in 1688 AD. The dams were constructed to hold rainwater. Several terraces are formed where summer palaces, temples are constructed & Garden developed. On the south of the lake stands the exquisitely carved Jain temple constructed by Himmat Ram Bafna, the descendant of famous patwas.
“Sonar Qila” or the “Golden Fortress” is how the mighty fort of Jaisalmer with its majestic 99 Bastions is referred to. Perched on top of the Trikuta hill and built with Gold coloured Jaisalmer Sand Stone, the Jaisalmer Fort with was built in the 12th Century by Maharawal Jaisal of the Bhati clan of Rajputs. Jaisalmer was named after its founder Maharawal Jaisal . The Jaisalmer fort was designed as a living fort and is even today is inhabited by families who have been here for generations. Located within the confines of the Jaisalmer fort is the imperial palace, Dussehra Chowk, sand stone houses and Havelis with their majestic and intricately carved and engraved facades, colourful bazaars and the beautiful and must visit Jain temples. You can wander the narrow alleys and explore the small shops offering souvenirs and trinkets, watch life as it happens, where motorcycles share space with squatting cows, holy-men and street vendors. The majestic fort ramparts and the handprints of Sati’s on the buildings around Dussehra Chowk remind you of bygone era as the fort surveys and commands the vast expanse of the Thar Desert that lies outside its confines.
Sam Sand Dunes:
Located about 42 K.M. from Jaisalmer town is the village of Sam Which is famous for its picture postcard sand dunes . The sand dunes at Sam are one of the compelling reasons for any visitor to visit Jaisalmer and experience its shifting sands, camel safaris and desert sunsets. Experience the crests and troughs at the Sam dunes and feel the sand as it sandpapers your cheeks either on camel back or for the less adventurous on a camel cart.
The big tourist attraction that Sam is, it attracts not only tourists in large droves but is a colourful jamboree of the Kalbelia dancers, Manganiyar singers , puppeteers and trinket vendors. The sunset at Sam is a must do and highly recommended where perched on the crest of a dune with your beast beside you the feeling of oneness with nature and its simplicity, just overwhelms you as become one with the “Spirit of the Thar”.
Jain group of Temples:
Within the fort walls, there are seven beautifully carved Jain Temples built between the 12th and 15th centuries. The cluster of temples is connected by a series of corridors and walkways. Shoes and all leather items must be removed before entering the temple. The first temple you come around is the one dedicated to Chandraprabhu, the eighth tirthankar (Jain Teacher), whose symbol is the moon. It was built in 1509 and features fine sandstone sculpture in sandstone in Mandapa (Fore chamber of the inner sanctum of the temple).
Other temples which may be currently closed to the non - Jains, include the temple dedicated to Parasnath, a few steps behind Chandraprabhu. Entry is via an enormous and beautifully carved torana (Gateway) that culminates the image of the Jain tirthankara its apex. There is a voluptuous carving of an apsara balancing a set of balls on her raised forearm.
Patwon ki Haveli:
The Haveli built between 1800 and 1860, was built by five Jain brothers who made their fortunes by trading jewellery and fine brocades. This Haveli is divided into five apartments. The first Haveli is a private museum and shop, featuring displays of old furnishings and household items. The second and fifth Havelis are government run. They are emHaveli, Jaisalmerpty but you can wander around and soak in the atmosphere. Only the ground floor is open on the second Haveli. The third Haveli is an antique shop and the fourth, a private residence, is not open for public.
The delicate pagoda like Tazia Tower rises from Badal Mahal (Cloud Palace). Rising in its five-tiered splendor, with each storey graced by a delicately carved balcony, the tower is of historical significance. Muslim craftsmen built it in the shape of a Tazia and gifted to their royal patron. Tazias are ornately decorated bamboo, paper and tinsel replicas of a bier carried in procession during Muharram.
This tank outside the city walls, once held the town's water supply, and, befitting its importance in providing precious water to the inhabitants of this arid city, is surrounded by small temples and shrines. A wide variety of waterfowl flock here in winter. The tank was built by Maharaja Gadsi Singh, taking the advantage of a natural declivity that already retained some water.
Desert National Park:
Desert National Park, Jaisalmer is the treasure trove of wild animals such as black bucks, chinkaras, hares, wolves, desert cats, desert foxes. Located in the district of Jaisalmer it is one of the central tourist spots in Jaisalmer. It abounds in flora and fauna. Desert National Park is one of the most popular wildlife reserves in the entire country.
The species that are kept in this park are of varied origin. The wide variety of birds protected in this sanctuary are worth admiring. Several avian species such as Grey partridges, bush quail, Indian rollers, bee eaters can be seen all over the place. Some rare and extinct species such as the Great Indian Bustard can be viewed within the sanctuary. A large number of reptiles are also found dwelling in the desert park of Jaisalmer. The monitor lizards, spiny tail lizards, saw scaled vipers are abundantly found.
HOW TO GET HERE
Air : The nearest airport that caters to Jaisalmer - bounded travellers is at Jodhpur. Jodhpur is connected to many other indian cities by air.
Rail : The nearest railway station that caters to Jaisalmer - bounded travellers is at Jodhpur. Jodhpur is connected to many other indian cities by train.
Road : Rajasthan Roadways run very comfortable deluxe & air conditioned buses from Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner. The roads are very good and fairly comfortable.