Jaisalmer is a prominent tourist spot located in the northwestern state of Rajasthan in India. It is known as the ‘golden city’ due to its golden dunes and castles clad in golden honey sandstone. Jaisalmer is adorned with lakes, ornate Jain temples and havelis. Climb onto the camel saddle and make your way through this desert to camp under the starry night sky for an unforgettable experience.
The Jaisalmer Fort stands as a citadel with narrow alleys inhabited by people for generations and shops selling colourful handicrafts.
Places to Visit in Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer Fort: Jaisalmer Fort, nestled on the golden sands of Thar Desert, is not just a fort but a mini-town with houses, temples, shops, and restaurants. Owing to its altitude, it offers a stunning and panoramic view of Jaisalmer city draped in golden yellow. The walk through the labyrinthine lanes is an experience worth having.
Kuldhara Village: Kuldhara Village, located around 20 kilometres from the Golden City Jaisalmer is one of the most interesting and intriguing attraction sites in Jaisalmer. Kuldhara Village is a historical site now maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, so tourists can visit the place and look around to have a glimpse of how the ancient village used to be during its time. The entire Kuldhara region stretches for a vast area, including about 85 smaller hamlets. All the huts and cottages of the villages are broken and in ruins. There is also the ruin of an old temple of some goddess, presumably Mother Nature, which now stands empty and vacant.
Gadisar Lake: Gadisar Lake offers scenic and picturesque views of the lake and the adjacent fort, especially when the eastern sky is blood red and the sun rises, striking its rays on the top floors of Jaisalmer Fort. You can go boating in the lake or simply enjoy a walk around the embankment.
Sam Sand Dunes: Right in the middle of the historical forts and colourful markets, Sam Sand Dunes are among the best and most authentic in the country. Travelers often come here to witness the dramatic sunrise and sunsets. You can also gain a close insight into the culture and tradition of Rajasthan with dances and musicals that are staged around the campfires at night.
Patwon Ki Haveli: Also known as the Mansion of Brocade Merchants, Patwon Ki Haveli is a cluster of five small havelis built by a rich trader in the 19th Century. It still possesses an ample number of artefacts and stonework that give a glimpse into the regal lifestyle of the Patwa family. The intricacy of this architecture lies in its exquisite wall paintings, balconies that open to a panoramic view, gateways, arches and most importantly the mirror works on the wall.
Nathmal ki Haveli: Nathmal ki Haveli is an ornate haveli in Jaisalmer. The architecture and carvings that adorn the fort of Jaisalmer are mostly built out of yellow sandstone. Thus when the sun rays fall on these structures, they radiate like gold. It also has extraordinary paintings using 1.5kg of gold leaf and carvings on walls.
Salim Singh Ki Haveli: Salim Singh ki Haveli is a beautiful edifice at the heart of the city Jaisalmer. It also holds another beautiful name – Jahaz Mahal as the front facet of the Haveli resembles a ship’s stern. The Haveli is almost 300 years old, adorning a beautiful arched roof in the shape of a peacock. Created with strong iron rods unlike the ones made of cement and mortar; the mansion is famous for its architectural elegance.
Jodhpur: Jodhpur is one of the most enchanting cities of Rajasthan with its mighty Mehrangarh fort overlooking the city. It is called the Blue City as it looks completely blue from an aerial view because of its blue walls and blue houses. It is also famous for its temples, lakes and snacks. Jaisalmer tour packages often include a trip to Jodhpur.
Jaipur: Also called the Pink City, Jaipur is the capital of the royal state of Rajasthan. Home to a few UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Amer Fort and Jantar Mantar, Jaipur holds many magnificent forts, palaces, temples and museums and brims with bustling local bazaars. The city is also very well known for its local food, and the most famous dishes include the Ghewar, Pyaaz Kachori and Dal Baati Churma. Jaisalmer tour packages sometimes include 1 or 2 night stay in Jaipur.
Things to Do in Jaisalmer
Desert Safari: Popular Desert Safaris in Jaisalmer takes place in Sam Sand Dunes. A Jeep takes you to a point near Sam Sand Dunes (around 45km from the city) from where the camel ride starts and lasts for around 90 minutes. The safaris can be done in the morning or in the evening followed by a delicious meal alongside a musical dance program.
Camping: Camping in Jaisalmer is a popular thing to do. There are accommodations for an overnight trip in comfortable mud cottages and Swiss tents whichever you choose along with meal service because there is no other place in the middle of the desert for obvious reasons. They serve both vegetarian and non-vegetarian authentic Rajasthani cuisine, true to its rich and spicy taste matching the overall ambiance of the place. The lodging costs around INR 800-1000 per person, but it can vary depending on the services you choose or the standard of quality.
Camel Safari: Camels are the lifeline in the barren deserts of Rajasthan, and they are not only tamed and used for commuting or goods carrying purposes, but also as a source of income for the local people. These trips let you experience the true wilderness of the open desert and take in the actual beauty of it. For a one-hour sunset ride into the desert, the usual charge is approximately INR 300 per head, but it varies according to the camel owners. However, you need to be aware of dishonesty and stay away from extravagant rates for a camel ride.
Cultural Program: After sunset, there is nothing much to do in a desert region. So to brighten up the days, the local artists perform the very famous, traditional Rajasthani folk music and dances in the camping sites to entertain the villagers and tourists. The entrancing music performances are often accompanied by different rustic instruments vogue in folk music. The dance performances include the renowned folk forms like Kalbelia dance, Fire dance, and Bhawai dance where the dancers perform with a tower of pitchers on their head.
Bonfire & Stargazing: The campsites and their ethereal ambiance call for the most exquisite experiences like bonfire and stargazing. Lighting up dry wood to make a big fire and sitting around the bonfire with strangers and getting to hear their stories along with enjoying the dance and music have a very mystic appeal to itself.
Dune Bashing: Dune Bashing is one of the most exclusive and unique things to do in Jaisalmer. You will literally feel your adrenaline rush up when you are rafting through the pits and falls of the majestic golden desert even when you are safely seated in the car with seat belts fastened to you.
Quad Biking: Quad Biking is another one of the very exciting and thrilling things to do in Jaisalmer. The adrenaline rushing sport offers a surreal ride on what are called the ATV Bikes. The activity is performed under strict guidance and supervision of a professional.
Food in Jaisalmer
The first delicacy to mention when talking of food in Jaisalmer is the famous dal, baati, churma. A platter, it comprises dal which is a lentil dish, baati which is balls of wheat or jowar flour and churma which is baati powdered, cooked in oil and garnished with dry fruits.
Another Rajasthani dish that you must have is the fiery laal maans which is mutton cooked in a curry of yoghurt and red chillies and served with rumali roti or chapati.
Mutton saag is a famous dish in the city, made by cooking mutton in a spinach puree and adding a variety of spices.
A dish that Jaisalmer is well-known for is chane Jaisalmer ke which is made by mixing black chick peas with gram flour and adding it to yoghurt. It is topped off with some coriander and red chillies and ghee and is eaten with roti.
A snack that you must try if you have a high spice tolerance is mirchi bhajiya which is a long pakora stuffed with a spicy green chilli; it is had along with a sweet and sour chutney.
Pyaz ki kachori is also a favourite amongst locals and tourists; eaten at breakfast with kadi, it is corn flour dough stuffed with spicy chopped onions which is fried.
Do have some gatte ki sabzi which is prepared by rolling a dough of besan or gram flour, frying it and adding it to a spicy yoghurt curry.
When it comes to beverages, kesariya thandai with almonds, saffron, khaskhas, pistachios and rose water as well as bhang lassi are some of the most popular ones.
You can pop into Fotiya’s Restaurant, Gaji’s Restaurant, Pleasant Haveli or Suryagarh Restaurant to try these dishes.
Shopping in Jaisalmer
Just like the rest of Rajasthan, Jaisalmer is also known for mirror work embroidery on bright and colourful fabric. You can find a wide variety of items that feature this kind of embroidery such as cushion covers, wall hangings, bed covers, quilts, banjara bags etc.
Something that you would only find in Jaisalmer and in Fatehpur Sikri is the Hadur stone, also known as the fossil stone. It has reddish-brown patterns and is said to not only help ferment milk into yoghurt but is also believed to have mystical properties.
If you like jewellery, you would find a lot of stores selling earrings, rings, necklaces, anklets etc. with beautiful stones that are cut in a special way. Ethnic silver jewellery is also sold widely.
There are markets that sell a bunch of leather goods, especially camel leather items, such as diaries, saddles, hats, key chains, jackets, purses, mobile covers etc.
You can also buy traditional Rajasthani clothing items like skirts, sarees, kurtas, dhotis, turbans etc. that have been tie-dyed, have intricate embroidery, mirror work and more, as well as mojaris, the state’s traditional footwear
You could also opt for a small puppet; the state is known for its puppets which resemble kings, queens and village folk.
Bhatia Bazaar, Manak Chowk, Sonaron ka Baas and Sadar Bazaar are amongst the many markets that sell these diverse items.