Jaisalmer, the Indian state of Rajasthan, located 575 km west of the state capital Jaipur. The town lies in the heart of the Thar Desert (the Great Indian Desert)
It is the largest district of Rajasthan and 3rd largest district by territorial region in the country, hugged on the west & south-west by the Pakistani border. Jaisalmer is sometimes called the "Golden City of India" because the yellow sandstone used throughout the architecture of both the fort and the town below, imbues both with a certain golden-yellow light.
Peak Season to visit- November to February
Jaisalmer was one of the cities I have always been excited to visit. This was a 3-day family trip in the month of February. The main reason to visit in February was to experience the city and the famous Desert Festival. Every year, in the most of February mostly, it hosts one of the most famous festival of India - "Desert Festival". We planned to stay in the city for one night and in the desert camps for another night.
The journey started with the train journey from Delhi. It was a chilly day of February 06th, the train was scheduled from Old Delhi Railway station. There are very few direct trains from Delhi to Jaisalmer, same goes with the flight as well.
The one we boarded was "Runicha express" schedule for 17:35pm IST from Old Delhi Railway Station and the arrival time was next day 11:55am. Though it was a long journey but when you are with family you hardly know how time is gone, chit chats, songs, snacks and halts at various stations.
Luckily, there was no delay and we reached Jaisalmer station on time.
Stay in City:
The Golden House Jaisalmer:
It was a really nice hotel, close to the railway station and yes 1-2km from the Jaiselmer fort. We booked a suite for 4 people. The rooms were pretty big and the interiors of the hotel and the room had that traditional Rajasthani touch which was really impressive.
It was example of craftsmanship and elegance. The food was also good. Our booking had complimentary breakfast and the approximate price for one night for the suite category was 5500rs which was worth, considering the quality, food, location and the hospitality.
After taking some rest, we started our first day in Jaiselmer. The schedule was to 2 days to explore the city and 1 day for the Desert experience with the stay in camps.
Main places to Visit in City:
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. One of the largest forts in the world, Jaisalmer Fort is located on the southern edge of the city and is popularly known as 'Sonar Qila' or 'Golden Fort'. It is a massive structure exhibiting its aesthetic beauty.
This fort is huge in a desert area. It’s very well maintained, and people are living here. It’s full of market with all Rajasthani goods. Very nice and worth visiting.
Timings of the fort is 09:00AM to 06:00PM and the prices are 50Rs for Indians and 250Rs for the Foreigners.
Patwon ki Haveli:
The Patwon ki Haveli is an interesting piece of Architecture and is the most important among the havelis in Jaisalmer. This is precisely because of two things, first that it was the first haveli erected in Jaisalmer and second, that it is not a single haveli but a cluster of 5small havelis
This is the largest Haveli in Jaisalmer and stands in a narrow lane. This haveli is presently occupied by the government, which uses it for various purposes. The office of the Archeological Survey of India and State art and craft department is situated in the haveli itself.
Entry fee for this is Rs 20 per person.
It is a man-made lake which was once the source of water in Jaisalmer. It has a lovely sunset and is surrounded by water and Ghats. One can spend peaceful time in the serene surroundings of the lake or choose to go for the boating as well.
You can experience the puppet show as well during the evening. The show starts from 06:30 Pm for around 45 minutes to one hour.
Jaisalmer War Museum:
It was established in the military station to honor the soldiers of the 'Battle of Longewala' that was fought in the year 1971. It embraces the bravery and sacrifices of the Indian Army. The museum popularly known as JWM, houses two information display halls, an audio-visual room and a souvenir shop. It also has an Honor wall that has engraved the names of gallantry award winners of the Param Vir Chakra and Maha Vir Chakra. Along with tanks, guns and military vehicles, the display has a repertoire of trophies and vintage equipment.
The audio-visual room screens the movie describing the bravery of the soldiers who fought the war.
Timings is 10:00am to 06:00 pm and there is no entry fee to visit the museum. There is a minimal fee for the audio video show.
It is a very beautiful place, 6km from the City which has the cremation ground of many maharajas making it really an interesting place to visit. Many buildings, photogenic spots and silence and nature all around. Yellow sandstone looks heavenly here
There is an entry fee of 100rs for this.
Other places that can be included during the City expedition:
Kuldhara Village, around 20km from the city.
Nathmal ki Haveli
Jain Temples in Jaisalmer
Akal Wood Fossil Park
Salim Singh ki Haveli
Amar Sagar Lake
Desert Experience in Jaisalmer- A memorable day.
If you are in Jaisalmer, you cannot miss this. If you didn't then I must say your trip is not complete.
During my visit as described above, one night I stayed in the city hotel and one night in the desert Camp.
We did the check out around 07:00 AM in the morning so as to utilize the day to the fullest.
It was a chilly morning. The schedule was to cover the Tanot Mandir, Indo-Pak border, Longewala border and then to check-in to the camp site by 04:00 pm.
The day started with a beautiful drive from the hotel towards the Tanot Mandir. We experienced a beautiful sunrise on the way, windmills on both the sides of the empty roads. The drive from Sam dunes to this temple is road to heaven!
Fuel yourself on the way where possible as there are not much eatery options. Moreover, no mobile signal as this very close to India border
Situated 120km North West of Jaisalmer city is Tanot in Thar Desert of Rajasthan. You will find sand dunes all along with small bushes. You can see herds of sheep & goats on the way. Beautiful landscape. Total desert. Nice to see Indira Gandhi Canal full of water after Ramgarh. You can see vegetation & farms near the canal. It is very near to Pakistan border. Last civilian point in India on border. Tanot Rai Mata Temple is an old temple with a history of India Pakistan war of 1965. Hundreds of shells fallen here did not harm the temple. Some bombs are in display at temple.
Maintained & managed by Border Security Force of India. Keep food & water with you. Very few populations.
Visiting the Indo-Pak Border is one of the most exotic things to do in Jaisalmer. The area is situated near the Tanot Mata temple and can be visited by prior permission and permits from the Indian Military Forces. Luckily, we were able to get the permission to visit the border.
From here, one could see the border-fence in front of us and Pakistan on the other side. There were a couple of soldiers there who were very friendly.
They were patiently answering people’s random questions. We got to know a lot about how security is managed at the border.
The Battle of Longewala (4–7 December 1971) was one of the first major engagements in the western sector during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.
If you want to experience a patriotism, history, the embark, visit the Longewala. The place is nicely managed by Army personals, big items on display are old memories of the wartime, i.e. Tanks, Rifles, and a museum that depicts the Longewala war story, how it unfolded. And a small 20 minutes video on the same war is being shown. And the road from Jaisalmer to this war memorial is a journey to be taken.
Desert camp stay:
Jaisalmer is a splendid region in the maharaja state of India in Rajasthan that sways in a profusion of colors.
Witnessing the beauty of the spectacular sandy terrain is a much-revered sightseeing activity for tourists visiting Rajasthan. A desert safari through the sandy terrains of the golden Thar Desert falling in major part of Jaisalmer is a charming haven of sandy terrains boasting of spectacular sand dunes, sometimes even reaching the height of a two storied building. The Jaisalmer Desert Safari is a much-revered activity in the Thar Desert. These desert safaris take one close to the rustic life of villagers living around the desert and makes one see marvelous sceneries of the widespread desert. The fort of Jaisalmer will transcend one to the long-gone era; amidst sandy plains the fort stands in sheer grandeur, an example of impeccable architecture. A desert safari can be a thrilling experience for people visiting the desert for the first time. The desert safari includes an adventure of a full day camel ride crossing several sand dunes in the Jaisalmer desert followed by an authentic style traditional dinner along with local dance performances at the Desert Camps. Among other noticeable activities, Jeep safaris, quad biking, paragliding and blasting sand dunes are quite popular around here.
Jaisalmer is a fascinating destination, very different from any other place in India. Natives wearing colorful turbans, dresses and big smiles are very hospitable and welcome tourists into their homes. A Desert Safari tour in Jaisalmer will give one an experience of a lifetime where one gets to spend an adventurous night in the middle of the desert, luxury Swiss tents which are equipped with all modern amenities to accommodate the guests. Every camp in the Jaisalmer desert organizes a cultural program around a campfire.
You will find a lot of options for the desert camps, all located next to each other. The one me and my family stayed was "Kasam desert Safari". I would really recommend you book this as my experience was very good.
Very nice ambience, hospitality and food. Overall, including the jeep safari, camel ride, stay, dinner, breakfast, evening activities, it costed us 5500 total for 2 Swiss tents, 4 people.
You can contact the owner directly on his number, 7221935786/9001278604.
Eatery Places in Jaisalmer:
Jaisal Italy Restaurant (Fort View Italian Restaurant)
Cafe, The Kaku
The Trio (Rajasthani Food)
Dhanraj Ranmal Bhatia- Try the Pyaaz Kachori, Michi Bhaji, Gothua(Traditional sweet)
After having 3 beautiful days in Jaisalmer, we boarded the train, Runicha Express, back to Delhi around 04:45pm IST from Jaisalmer Railway station.