Golden Fortress – Sonar KellaNext morning (Day 3), we finally went inside the fabled fortress. The name – Sonar Kella – meaning Golden Fort in Bengali was given by the legendary Oscar-winning director Satyajit Ray, when he shot one of his movies here in 1974. Sonar Kella, one of UNESCO World Heritage sites, is the largest ‘living fort’ (people live within fort walls) in the world and is accessible only by foot through one single narrow path and across four strong gates. Inside the fort, you will be carried back to the times of the kings and queens, as you walk around the Palaces (there are three separate but interconnected Palaces inside the fort – Maharaja Mahal, Maharani Mahal and another Mahal for the princes and the princesses), the living quarters, the old Hindu and Jain temples and the locals living inside the fort, dressed in traditional clothing. You cannot help but notice the rich hues of the clothes, rugs, turbans and other accessories the people wear here. A view of the city from top confirms the name of Jaisalmer as the Golden City as all the houses below bore the same golden hue – being made of the abundant golden sand-stones.
Commonly known as the Jaisalmer Fort or The Golden Fort, Jaisalmer. The fort was established by the Rajput Ruler, Jaisal, from which the name Jaisalmer has been derived. The 800 year history tells us that all the old population of Jaisalmer resides in the fort itself. In the olden ruling times, there was no city outside the fort area. The fort was only the Jaisalmer city. Few years ago, people started to setup their residences outside the fort and the city expanded.Many people have their homes in the fort itself. They live and have their daily routines as in the general manner. That's why it is called 'The Living Fort'. A very large part of the fort consists of the people's residence and guest houses.There are some view points on the fort from which we can have the whole golden city in our eyes. As the name goes, the city is really golden everywhere.In the fort, there are many shops which sells the antique items like locks, different types of stickers, different type of golden things resembling Jaisalmer. You can get your souvenirs. Many food carts are setup in the fort. You can get chhach, pani puri, juices, etc inside the fort.
Next morning I ventured out for the main attraction - Jaisalmer Fort. It forms an integral part of the town. The city has expanded and many shops started thriving around the vicinity of the fort. I walked to the fort exploring the local lanes around. Once I got inside the fort, I was amazed by the amount of commercialization it received over the years. The lanes are not only thronged by shops but also with houses, shrines and plethora of hotels. If you are thinking the hotels are costly, you are very wrong, the hotels inside the forts are actually very affordable though you have to compromise on some of the amenities. The fort mainly consists of Hindu temples like the Shiva temple, Sun temple and the popular Jain Temples. one can find a cafe nearby to get a good view of the adjoining Jain temples together from the top. One of the interesting thing that I explored is that you can walk around the periphery of the fort and get view of the fort as well as the city from all different perspectives. The two main inside attractions to visit is the Raja and Rani ka Mahal.There are a lot of shops selling handicrafts, local clothes, turbans, Leather items which one can indulge in. Take a note to examine the leather items before you buy it because most if the times they are not actual leather and bargain a lot. You can also find many scarves at very low cost which is a must need for you in the deserts.