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Jaisalmer Travel Guide
Home >> Rajasthan Cities >> Jaisalmer Travel Guide

Jaisalmer Fact File

Location:

Western Rajasthan amid Thar Desert, India
225 Kms. from Jodhpur and 415 Kms. from Jaipur

Major Attractions:

Jaisalmer Fort, Gadisar Lake, Salim Singh-ki-Haveli, Nathmal-ki-Haveli and Patwon-Ji-ki-Haveli

Must Experience:

Enjoy Camel Safari at Sand Dunes, Boat Ride at Gadisagar Lake and Glimpse the wonderful Paintings at Old Havelis.

Shopping:

The shopping spots are Sadar Bazar, Manak Chowk, Pansari bazar, Gandhi Darshan, Rajsthani Govt. shop and Khadi Gramuddyog Emporium for Embroidery and mirror work, Handicrafts, Woolen Blankets antiques and old stonework.

Where to Eat:

'Trio' for authentic Rajasthani cuisines and Rang Mahal Hotel for Traditional Rajasthani Cuisine.

STD Code:

02992

Best Time to Visit:

October to February

Language:

Hindi, English, Marwari and Rajasthani

Getting there:

Air: The nearest airport is the Jodhpur airport, 300 Kms away from Jaisalmer.
Train: Jaisalmer is well connected by rail network with Jodhpur as well as other major cities of India such as Jaipur, Agra, New Delhi and Mumbai.
Road: A good network of roads joins Jaisalmer with many destinations in and around Rajasthan.

About Jaisalmer:
Jaisalmer is situated in the western most part of the state of Rajasthan, the heart of the great Thar Desert. Its neighboring istan on its western side. Legend has it that Rawal Jaisal laid the foundation of the city in 1156 AD. Over the years the remote location of Jaisalmer kept it almost untouched by outside influences and even during the days of Raj, Jaisalmer was the last sign the instrument of agreement with the British. Jaisalmer is a marvel of beautiful culture and harsh climatic conditions, together amounting to a memorable experience.
The name Jaisalmer, itself evokes a lucid picture of pure brilliance and magic of the sun kissed desert. This enchanting city of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan has been credited as the 'Golden City' because of the honey colour imparted to its yellow sandstone ramparts by the setting sun of Rajasthan. Jaisalmer means "the Hill Fort of Jaisal". Rising from the heart of the Thar Desert like a golden mirage is the city of Jaisalmer. 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. The main attraction of Jaisalmer's architecture lies in the decorative latticework covering their sandstone facades. The merchants built magnificent mansions (Havelis), all carved from wood and yellow sandstone. These havelis are perhaps, the last truly Indian buildings, designed without a tint of European architecture.

Like various other cities of Rajasthan, in Jaisalmer too you will find different facets of its own glorious heritage too. Tough you can find historical monuments scattered all over the city, the Jaisalmer Fort will immediately command your attention. Made of sand stones and locally known as Sonar Quila, the Jaisalmer Fort is a dominating structure between the sands. The Jaisalmer city is also revered for its Havelis. Among many of them you will find Salim ji ki haveli, Patwona Ji Ki haveli and Nathmal ji ki haveli as the most striking. There are other monuments too, which are equally important because of there distinct and individual architecture. The amalgamation of ancient and the medieval era architecture will catch your fancy.

The major attraction in Jaisalmer is Sam Sand Dunes (42 km). Hop on to a camel for an hour around sunset, and wander over the virgin sands of Sam. Give the holiday tours an impetus of adventure camping in Rajasthan and meet the Thar from a completely different angle. The terrain which was once rugged, have been modified into deluxe dwells; portable Swiss tents, electrified and, complete with bath and running water facilities will make one's stay on the dunes a truly comfortable and memorable experience. Dinner with delicious barbecue is accompanied by music from the folk musicians, creating melodies with their 'dholaks' and 'sarangis'.

Jaisalmer charms the tourists with its mystical legends and feel of valor and romantic zeal. It is the most fascinating blend of the old worldly charm with the electrifying quality of the contemporary. There are swirling sands and towering monuments with latticed stonework. The golden sands of the daytime take on almost fairy-tale appearance by the silvery moonlight of the night along with the melodious music and perfect rhythmic performances of the multihued desert people. There are camels that seem to come straight out of the 'Arabian Nights' and there are calm waters and tranquility of the divine temples. Don't miss out the opportunity to explore the India's only 'living fort'.

The perfect time to visit the golden city is during the Desert Festival held in Jan/Feb. every year, when the city reverberates to the sound of melodious tunes and rhythms. Folk dances, exciting competitions and contest, especially the turban raying contest.

History of Jaisalmer:
The city Jaisalmer was founded by Bhatti Rajput Rawal Jaisal in 1156. The city used to be a major trade center as it was the trade center as it was the trade route of the western countries to India. The succession of Maharajas of Jaisalmer trace their lineage back to the ruler of Bhatti Rajput Clan Jailasimha. It was in fulfillment of Lord Krishna's prophecy that a distant scion of his Yadav clan would build a kingdom here. There was water on the hill, a miracle performed by Krishna to quench the thirst of Arjuna. The hilltop offered the safest fort location, dominating and surveying the desert for miles. The Lunar clan of Bhattis is Krishna's descendant, valiant and most feared of the dessert marauders, perennially locked in territorial skirmishes with Jodhpur and Bikaner. One Bhatti scion-Gaj Singh had founded the city of Ghazni in Afghanistan but ultimately lost it to forces from Khorasan. One of his grandsons reclaimed Ghazni, embraced Islam, and came to be called Chagattas (Mughals). They later plundered the land of their ancestors between 1000 and 1025 A.D. Again, led by Babar they came to found the Mughal Empire in India. Today, tourism will soon rival military bases as the pillar of the city's economy. The military bases hardly impinge at all on the life of the old city and only the occasional sound of war planes landing or taking off in the distance ever disturbs the tranquillity of this desert gem. It's not always been so peaceful, of course, since fortresses have rarely been constructed for aesthetic reasons and medieval desert chieftains were not known for their pacific temperaments. Chivarlic rivalry and ferocity between the various Rajput clans were the order of the day and the Bhatti Rajputs of Jaisalmer were regarded as a formidable force throughout the region. While Jaisalmer largely escaped direct conquest by the muslim rulers of Delhi, it did experience its share of sieges and sackings with the inevitable jauhar being declared in the face of inevitable defeat. There is perhaps no Rajasthani city in which you can more easily conjure up the spirit of those times.

Monuments and Places to Visit in Jaisalmer:

Jaisalmer Fort- Jaisalmer fort was built in 1156 by the Rajput ruler Jaisala. Standing proud to a height of hundred meters over the city with its 99 bastions, the fort is splendid sight in the afternoon sun. Jaisalmer fort is the second oldest fort in the state of Rajasthan.
Known as SONAR QUILA or the Golden fort, rising from the sand, the mega structure merges with the golden hues of the desert ambience and the setting suns in its most colourful shades gives it a fairy tale look. It hovers on a 250 feet high hilltop, providing an amazing view of the vast desert below. The fort has five palaces namely, Sarvottam Vilas, Akhai Vilas, Gaj Mahal, Rang Mahal and Moti Mahal. Exquisitely carved jail screens were put up to protect the interiors of the palaces from the desert storms and sweltering heat. The arches and spandrels of the palaces have been painted with mesmerizing murals. The fort has four namely, Akhai Pole (Ganesh Pole), Suraj Pole, Bhuta Pole and Hawa Pole. There is also an umbrella, Meghadamber, perched on the highest point of the place that represents Lord Krishna.
Patwon-Ji-Ki-Haveli - This is one of the largest and most elaborate Haveli in Jaisalmer and stands in a narrow lane. It is five storeys high and is extensively carved. It is divided into six apartments, two owned by archaeological Survey of India, two by families who operate craft-shops and two private homes. There are remnants of paintings on some of the inside walls as well as some mirror work.
Salim Singh Ji Ki Haveli- This haveli was built about 300 years ago and a part of it is still occupied. Salim Singh was the prime minister when Jaisalmer was the capital of the princely state and his mansion has a beautifully arched roof with superb carved brackets in the form of Peacocks. The mansion is just below the hill and it is said that once it had two additional wooden storeys in an attempt to make it as high as the maharaja's palace, but the maharaja had the upper storey torn down.
Nathmal Ji Ki  haveli- Two architect brothers built it in the 19th century. Interestingly, while one concentrated on the right, the other concentrated on the left and the result is a symphony epitomizing the side by side symmetry during construction. Paintings in miniature style monopolies the walls in the interior. Mighty tuskers carved out of yellow sandstone stand guard to the haveli.
Tazia Tower­ - The delicate pagoda like Tazia Tower rises from Badal Mahal (Cloud Palace). Rising in its five-tiered splendour, 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 it to their royal patron
Gadisagar Lake- This tank, south of the city walls, once held the town water supply, and befitting its importance in providing precious water to the inhabitants of this arid city, it is surrounded by small temples and shrines. The beautiful yellow sandstone gateway arching across the road down to the tank is the Tilon-ki-Pol, and is said to have been built by a famous prostitute, Tilon . When she offered to pay to have this gateway constructed, the Maharaja refused permission under it to go down to the tank and he felt that this would be beneath his dignity. While he was away, she built the gate, adding a Krishna temple on top so that king could not tear it down.
Fairs and Festivals:

Desert Festival: Desert Festival is held in January or February every year on 'Purnima' or the full moon day. It is a three-day long festival and is the best showcase, one can ever want to view the rich and colorful and rich culture of the desert region of Rajasthan. The major attractions of the festivals are Gair and Fire dancers who wear vibrant and brightly colored costumes as they dance and sing and perform on the regional tunes that are mainly based on the ballads of tragedy, valor, and romance of the local heroes.

The ship of the desert camels, of course earn their special place in the festival and camel rides are quite popular here. Camel polo and camel dance are two unique feature events of the fair just as the turban tying competition and display of the most glorious moustaches. The thing to note here is that turbans and mustaches are considered symbols of honor in the region. There is also a Mr. Desert contest that further enhances the fun of the occasion.

The picturesque backdrop of Jaisalmer Fort and barren, silvery Sam sand dunes compliment the music and rhythm, graceful movements and brilliant hues of the performers and the traditional handicrafts that can bee seen in the fair. The full moon night completes the picture with its magic aura making it one of the most unforgettable events.

Excursions:

Sam Sand Dunes: Sam Sand Dunes are the major attractions in Jaisalmer. Sam has a truly magnificent stretch of sweeping dunes, with sparse or no vegetation. The best way to get here, of course, is on camelback. Enjoy the romance of solitude as your camel takes you deep in the hearts of the Thar Desert. Put yourself in the camp and experience the sun setting behind the horizon. Organize a bonfire with the fellow tourists in the night and enjoy the rustic and earthy music and dance of Rajasthan. In the month of February/March, this whole place turns into a cultural hub. The desert festival organized amid these dunes is the showcase of Rajasthani culture as a whole. Open-air cultural extravaganzas, puppet shows, folk dance performances, camel races, competitions and general festivities mark this annual event that is held with great pomp and show at the Sam Sand dunes in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.

Khuri Sand Dunes: Situated just 40 Kms. from town, Khuri Sand Dunes is a must visit for tourists seeking solitude in the desert. It is a peaceful place with houses of mud and straw decorated like the patterns of Persian carpets. Khuri Sand Dunes offer you a memorable experience in the land of the Rajputs. Enjoy the ride on camel back and let the place itself take you to its mesmerizing heights. Get closer to the local way of living with a close view of thatched straw roofs, camels, narrow streets and the local bazaar. At the night, organize a campfire with the fellow tourists (if any) and listen to the songs of 'Kalbeliyas'.

Lodurva: Just 15 km northwest of the city, Lodurva is the ancient capital of Bhattis Rajputs and was once a flourishing city but lost most of the splendor when the Bhattis shifted their capital to Jaisalmer. Nevertheless this place is a major tourist attraction and attracts a lot of attention due to ruins of Jain temples. The most mesmerizing experience will be the peacock dance amid exotic Lodurva ruins. Lodurva is also known for its Jain temples. The temples are made of bright yellow sandstones.

Bada Bagh and Chattris: 7 km north of Jaisalmer, there is a massive dam built by Raja Jai Singh II and finished by his son at Bagh. An unearthly beauty now possesses these ruins of the gardens and chhatris, statues and cenotaphs of the former rules that was once an oasis in the land of Thar.

Amar Sagar Lake: Amar Sagar is a small and beautiful lake cum Oasis and is adjacent to a 17th Century palace called the Amar Singh Palace. Maharawal Akhai Singh built this palace in honor of one of his predecessors Amar Singh. Next to the palace are pavilions with a large stairs leading down to the Amar Sagar Lake. This haveli has been constructed in the pattern of apartments. The Amar Sagar is a five story high haveli and is famous for its murals. Wherever you go in this haveli, you will notice beautiful murals painted with delicate efforts. There is an old Shiva temple in the complex itself. Amar Singh built this because he was supposed to be an ardent follower of Lord Shiva, a Hindu God related to destruction.

Mool Sagar: Situated 8 K.M. west of Jaisalmer, Mool Sagar is another pleasant, but rather neglected, small garden and tank. It belongs to the Royal family of Jaisalmer and was originally built as a cool summer retreat. The major attraction of this place is a Shiva temple, which is said to be constructed out of just two large blocks of sandstones. Maharawal Moolraj II built the Moolsagar complex in 1815 AD. You will find numerous wells, the Moolsagar Garden and a splendid Raj Mahal built on its premises.

Kuldhara: 25 km north of Jaisalmer, this 400-year old village that was deserted but has now been re-inhabited, is famous for its camel treks.

Desert National Park - The Desert National Park is situated in the Indian state of Rajasthan near Jaisalmer. The Desert National Park is a protected sanctuary. The catchments area of the Desert National Park is around 3100 sq. km. The desert is a harsh place to sustain life and thus most of the fauna and flora live on the edge. Nevertheless this place attracts large hoard of migratory birds due to its close proximity to Bharatpur. The great Indian Bustard is a magnificent bird and can be seen in considerably good numbers. It migrates locally in different seasons. The region is a heaven for migratory and resident birds of the desert. One can see many Eagles, Harriers, Falcons, Buzzards, Kestrel and Vultures. Short- toed Eagles, Tawny Eagles, Spotted Eagles, Laager Falcons and Kestrels are the most common among these.

Climate:
Typically a desert climate, the summers in Jaisalmer are hot and dry, while winters are windy and chilly. In summers the temperatures range between 41ºC to 25ºC while, in winters, temperatures range from 23.6ºC to 7.9ºC.

How to reach Jaisalmer:

Air: - The nearest airport is Jodhpur airport which is 300 Kms. away from Jaisalmer. There is an airport at Jaisalmer also but that is managed by the Indian Air Force and is operational only from September to March, the prime season.

Train: - There are daily trains to Jaisalmer from Jodhpur, which is well connected to all the major cities by the network of trains such as New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Mumbai and many more. The Jaisalmer Railway Station is just a 10-minute drive from Gadi Sagar Pol.

Road: - Smooth network of roads and luxury coaches link Jaisalmer to all the major cities of Rajasthan such as Bikaner, Jaipur and Jodhpur. The main Bus Stand is situated near the Railway Station, but all the major buses are available from a Bus Depot situated in the heart of the city.

Local: - Taxis, Auto and Cycle-rickshaws are available.

For more details kindly enquire now for the above proposed tour.

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