The city of Jaisalmer rises above the sand like a mirage and is a popular travel destination due to its location deep within the Thar Desert. The city is also called the ‘Golden City’ because of its abundance of large sand dunes and palaces made from golden sandstone.
The city’s most prominent landmark is the Jaisalmer Fort which contains a large part of the city and resembles a massive sandcastle rising from the surrounding dunes. Jaisalmer also has plenty of other attractions to offer including camel safaris, Jain temples, and Havelis.
In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about Jaisalmer including its history, top attractions, when to visit, and where to stay.
- Jaisalmer is also known as the Golden City.
- The city was established in the year 1156 and located atop the Trikut Hill to prevent the possible assault from enemies.
- Jaisalmer Fort is one of the city’s top attractions and resembles a massive sandcastle rising from the desert.
- Going on a camel safari will allow you to witness the rural life of India while exploring the arid desert.
- Bada Bagh is another of the city’s top attractions and is a series of cenotaphs dedicated to the previous rulers of Jaisalmer.
Jaisalmer: The Golden City
Jaisalmer is located in the state of Rajasthan in India and is a world-famous travel destination situated in the middle of the Thar Desert. Jaisalmer is also known as the Golden City due to the many golden sand dunes and castles located there.
The city is only around 575 kilometers from Jaipur and is near the border with Pakistan. Jaisalmer is also close to Bikaner, Barmer, and Jodhpur. The city is famous for Rajasthani folk music and dance forms which are highly appreciated globally.
Like many other cities in Rajasthan, Jaisalmer is also known for its royal forts, traditional mansions (Havelis), palaces, museums, and temples. Its most famous attraction, the Jaisalmer Fort, stands as a tall fortress surrounded by narrow alleyways full of people who have been residing there for generations.
Aside from forts and palaces, the Golden City is also home to several Jain temples and numerous stepwells. Among the Jain Temples the Parshvanath Temple, Rishabhnath Temple, and Sambhavnath Temple are the most popular ones to visit.
History of Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer was established in 1156 by Raja Rawal Jaisal and located atop the Trikut Hill to prevent the possible assault from enemies.
Jaisalmer started to gain wealth during the medieval period because the city was located in one of the two trade routes that connected India to Europe, Africa, Egypt, and Persia.
For many years, Jaisalmer remained safe from the foreign invasion partly because of its location. However, during the 13th and 14th centuries, the Muslim rulers invaded the city. The siege lasted for 9 long years. The Muslim rulers won, but eventually, the city was returned to Rajput rule.
In the year 1947, the Rajputana royals signed an agreement to remain in India instead of leaving for Pakistan. Since then, the city has developed itself into a major travel destination as well as a cultural hub of western India.
Jaisalmer Weather and the Best Time to Visit
The weather in Jaisalmer is very dry and hot.
The cooler months are between November and February when the average temperature is 20°C (68°F) and the highs and lows range between 10°C (50°F) and 32°C (90°F).
The hot season lasts from April to August when Jaisalmer experiences average temperatures around 33°C (91°F) with highs and lows ranging between 26°C (79°F) and 42°C (108°F).
There is almost no rainfall in Jaisalmer throughout the year. July and August are the months with the highest amount of rainfall, averaging at around 70 mm (2.8 inches) per month. The city experiences an average of 9 hours of sunshine per day.
The best travel months for Jaisalmer are November to January. This is when the temperatures are cool and comfortable. However, these months are the peak tourist season in Rajasthan, so you can expect bigger crowds at major attractions and less affordable travel costs.
Top 5 Things to do in Jaisalmer
|Explore the Jaisalmer Fort||Maharawal Palace, Tazia Tower, Jawahar Palace, and a palace museum||9 am to 6 pm||250 rupees|
|Visit the Jain Temples||Parshvanath Temple, Rishabhnath Temple, and Sambhavnath Temple||11 am to 3 pm for foreigners||300 rupees|
|Walk through the Havelis||Patwa Haveli and Salim Singh Ki Haveli||9 am to 5 pm||100 to 240 rupees|
|Go on a camel safari||Camel ride and watch the sunset/sunrise||4 am to 6 am or 5 pm to 7 pm||1,000 to 1,600 rupees|
|Visit Bada Bagh||A series of cenotaphs set amidst a beautiful garden||8 am to 6 pm||100 rupees|
1. Explore the Jaisalmer Fort
Constructed in 1156, the Jaisalmer Fort is the city's main focal point. The structure is also known as the Golden Fort as it is made from gold and yellow mixed sandstone.
Jaisalmer Fort was built by the Bhati Rajput ruler, Rawal Jaisal, and has been the location of several battles and wars. The fort complex contains several buildings including palaces, temples, houses, wells, and traditional mansions (Havelis).
The fort has several entrances, namely Hawa Pol, Ganesh Pol, Rang Pol, and Jawahar Pol. The main attraction of the fort is the Maharawal Palace known for its marble throne. There is also a five-story tower called the Tazia Tower that stands opposite the Maharawal Palace.
The Jaisalmer Fort is also known for its Jawahar Palace which was once used as the royal residence. Here, guests can also visit the palace museum which contains a great collection of artifacts depicting the rich culture and heritage of the city.
Today, the fort is home to a population of about 4,000 people who are largely descended from the Brahmin and Rajput communities. It contains numerous hotels, guesthouses, temples, handicraft stores, and restaurants which travelers can visit for a fee.
2. Visit Jain Temples
One of the main attractions of the Jaisalmer Fort is a series of interconnected Jain temples that date back to the 15th and 16th centuries. The temples are highly significant in the Jain religion and have a lot of ancient knowledge attached to them.
The Jain Temples are a fine example of the Dilwara style of architecture which involves structures that are carved entirely from sandstone. Dilwara architecture also often includes carved figures of animals and people decorating the wall, a dome that is covered with a notched stone disk, and a water pot containing a lotus flower.
There are a total of seven Jain temples inside the Jaisalmer Fort. The Parshvanath Temple is the most ancient and the most beautiful. The Rishabhnath Temple is the second most important Jain Temple and situated near the ruins of the Moomal Palace by the Kak River..
The Sambhavnath Temple has two pyramid domes on the top and its walls are intricately carved with different designs and stories .
To enter these temples, visitors will have to remove their shoes and all leather items.
3. Walk Through Havelis
Jaisalmer’s beautiful Havelis are mansions that were built by wealthy merchants with the oldest of them dating back nearly 300 years. The Havelis are symbols of true Indian architecture without any European influence.
These structures are built out of sandstone and many of them can be found in the city both inside and outside of the Jaisalmer Fort. Havelis have exquisite details in their patterns that are carved into the stone and decorative latticework on the facades.
Inside the Jaisalmer Fort, the 19th-century Patwa Haveli is the city's biggest and most important traditional mansion. The Patwa Haveli is a cluster of five mansions built by a wealthy Jain trader and his sons. The mansion includes fine wall paintings, beautiful balconies, and tall archways.
The Salim Singh Ki Haveli is known for its distinctive and eye-catching architecture. This 17th-century structure has 38 balconies and has an extended arched roof in the shape of a peacock.
4. Go on a Camel Safari
One of the most unforgettable and enchanting experiences you can have in Jaisalmer is to go on a camel safari. This will allow you to witness the rural desert life of India and ride through the windswept desert on a camel's back.
The most popular place for camel safari trips is the Sam Sand Dunes which are beautiful but have become more commercial and busy nowadays. The peaceful sand dunes near Khuri village in the Desert National Park are now a better place to go for travelers who want a more authentic experience. You can also take a camel safari to Bikaner and Osian.
Camel safaris are held twice a day (once before sunrise and once before sunset) and will last around two hours. The price varies according to the route, standard of food, and comfort provided. Rates start from 1,000 rupees per person for a sunset camel ride to 1,600 rupees for a full-day package.
Some items that you will need to bring with you for the safari include sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, toilet paper, insect repellent, a water bottle, and plenty of warm clothing as it can get cold in the desert at night.
5. Visit Bada Bagh
One of the relics of Rajasthan's royal past, Bada Bagh is a series of cenotaphs set amidst a desert garden located around 6 kilometers outside of Jaisalmer.
The construction of the gardens of Bada Bagh was commissioned by Maharaja Maharawal Jai Singh. When he died, his son built a pavilion in his memory next to the lake in the garden. Since then, a new cenotaph was added to this garden to commemorate each king of Maharaja Maharawal Jai Singh’s dynasty.
Bada Bagh is a very beautiful and peaceful place to explore. The garden pavilions match the color of the landscape around them and are all located near each other creating a maze of rounded sandstone rooftops.
The cenotaphs are arranged from newest to oldest. The size of the cenotaph also corresponds to the greatness of the ruler it was built for. The bigger the stature of the ruler, the bigger the cenotaph.
Each pavilion has an engraving of the ruler's name at the entrance and texts inscribed on them. The roofs of the pavilions are designed to resemble shrines and symbolize the holiness and divinity of the structure.
Luxury Hotels in Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer has some great luxury hotels to stay in. These hotels offer the best facilities and provide guests with beautiful views of the city.
|Name||Address||Facilities||Price Per Night|
|Jaisalmer Marriott Resort & Spa||Jaisalmer - Sam - Dhanana Rd, Police Line, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan||A sauna, steam room, personalized therapies, pool, fitness center, and entertainment lounge||17,000 to 25,000 rupees|
|Suryagarh Jaisalmer||Kahala Phata, Jaisalmer - Sam - Dhanana Rd, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan||An indoor pool, fitness center, and a desert spa||7,000 to 81,000 rupees|
|WelcomHeritage Mandir Palace||Gandhi Chowk Rd, Sadar Bazar, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan||A restaurant, free private parking, a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, and a garden||5,900 to 12,100 rupees|
Jaisalmer Marriott Resort & Spa
Built from yellow sandstone, the Jaisalmer Marriott Resort & Spa fits right in with the rest of the Golden City. Many of the rooms in this hotel offer breathtaking views of the Jaisalmer Fort and the surrounding area.
This hotel is an 18-minute walk from Patwon Ki Haveli, about 1 mile from Jaisalmer Fort, 1 1/2 miles from Lake Gadisar, and 3 miles from Bada Bagh.
Jaisalmer Marriott Resort & Spa offers rooms ranging from a deluxe to a suite. Rooms include a three-fixture bathroom, flat-screen TV with satellite channels, ironing facilities, and a hairdryer. The price ranges from 17,000 to 25,000 rupees per night.
Here, guests can enjoy a sauna, steam room, and personalized therapies at Quan Spa. There are also plenty of games to play in the entertainment lounge and the Jaisalmer Kitchen offers both Indian and international cuisine.
The Suryagarh Hotel is a passage into India’s culture and history. This luxurious hotel was built using pure Rajasthani architecture and features beautiful courtyards.
The property is around 9 miles from Nathmalji-ki-Haveli and about 10 miles from the Jaisalmer Fort and Patwon-ki-Haveli. Jaisalmer Airport is also only 10 miles away.
At this hotel, guests can choose to stay in different kinds of rooms including suites or individual Havelis. Each room comes with traditional handmade furniture and heritage art pieces. They are also fitted with a flat-screen TV and mini-bar. Prices range from 7,000 to 81,000 rupees per night.
The hotel has an indoor pool, fitness center, and free Wi-Fi. Guests can also enjoy the Rait, the region's first desert spa which provides rejuvenating massage treatments.
Suryagarh includes two restaurants: Nosh Restaurant serving both international and Indian dishes and The Legend of Marwar offering fine Rajasthani dining.
WelcomHeritage Mandir Palace
Mandir Palace was built by Maharawal Jawahir Singh at the beginning of the 20th century. The architecture of this hotel is Indo-Saracenic, which is a blend of Rajput and Islamic styles.
The hotel is a 7-minute walk from Patwon Ki Haveli and an 11-minute walk from the Jaisalmer Fort. It is also half a mile away from Salim Singh Ki Haveli.
Here, guests can choose to stay in a deluxe room, golden suite, or Surya Mahal suite. The rooms include air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a fridge, an electric teapot, a shower, a hairdryer, and a desk. Prices range from 5,900 to 12,100 rupees per night.
The hotel provides certain rooms that have a balcony and pool view. Other facilities include a restaurant, free private parking, a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, and a garden.
How to get to Jaisalmer from Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Udaipur
Jaisalmer is quite accessible from other major cities in Rajasthan such as Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Udaipur. The two best ways to reach Jaisalmer are by train and by chauffeured car.
Trains are a good option for travel from all three of the above cities to Jaisalmer, but the journey can take quite a lot of time. A train journey from Jaipur to Jaisalmer is around 12 hours, from Jodhpur is around 5 hours, and from Udaipur is around 17 hours.
By Chauffeured Car
Taking a chauffeured car is the best way to get to Jaisalmer from these three cities. Private cars allow a shorter travel time and a more comfortable journey. From Jaipur and Udaipur, travel by private car will take around 9 hours. From Jodhpur, it will take around 5 hours.
Explore Jaisalmer with Asia Highlights
The golden city of Jaisalmer is packed with history and attractions to explore. If you would like to add Jaisalmer to your India trip without the hassle of doing all the research and planning yourself, contact Asia Highlights. We can help you make the perfect trip where everything is tailor-made to suit your preferences.