Jaisalmer – The Jewel of Thar
City of Gold and Golden Bands
Nothing shines like Yellow Stones of Sand
Quit your Jobs or Save your Time
This City is worth your every Dime
The Hindi word for Desert is ‘Marusthal’, which means a place with no life. While literally this might be true, it is wrong on so many levels if we talk about Jaisalmer, which sits deep in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan, India. Jaisalmer is a symbol of Life, Liveliest of Art & Architecture, Adventure and everything a traveler aspires to discover. It has such Calm and Arcadian setting that even the Crime and Pollution rate here is almost Zero. History & Culture
Jaisalmer derives its name from the King Jaisal, who built the Jaisalmer Fort (the largest desert fort in the World). Also known as the Jewel of the Desert or more precisely, ‘Golden city’, as it is rich in majestic architecture which uses Yellow Sandstone, imparting a golden tint to the city. The city had a significant role in the history of Rajasthan. In older days, it was recognized as an important trade centre as it lied on the Camel routes. Thus, Merchants have had a big role in developing this city. And because the merchants used to be pretty opulent back then; their houses are a part of the big exhibition this city is, in itself.
Jaisalmer, being one of the cities that absorbed a lot of Rajasthani culture, has quite a real pacified mood. The people are really simple & authentic and take pride in their multi-color spotted Turbans and Ghagra (long skirt for women; don’t forget to get yourself one). Super spicy food is a common flavor across the state of Rajasthan and Jaisalmer is no different in that regard.
The reason for that is: it induces ‘Gustatory facial sweating’. In simpler words, it induces sweating which is our body’s natural cooling mechanism. This is a natural way how the Rajasthani people beat the extreme desert heat. Refer to your Biology lessons for details (we’re just a travel agency).
A huge portion of the population relies on Agriculture for income. However, local business is another popular occupation here. This is the reason why you’ll find many fascinating and colorful markets here.
Climate of Jaisalmer is like your girlfriend’s mood; swings a lot, but generally hot. But it gets equally cold at night. It is advised to carry both types of clothes when traveling in Rajasthan. However, the ideal time to visit this place is between September and March (quite stable weather during this period).
Jaisalmer is one such destination where you just keep moving to explore more and more that comes your way because otherwise you’d be missing a lot. Things you get to do in Jaisalmer are detailed and profound. It doesn’t have Bungee Jumping or Surfing for quite obvious reasons, but it’s an entirely different chapter of adventure, in itself. Some of the best activities out here are:
Luxury Desert Camps
Savor the quintessence of a luxury suite in probably the austerest of places. Contrary as it may sound, it’s like a dream come true for true travel enthusiasts. Fitted with everything that you’d need, these Luxury camps make you feel like home and more. But then at the same time, you taste what it feels like to live a nomad; because no matter what, you’re still in a tent in the middle of a desert.
As the sunshine fades, things get more happening around here with Bonfires, Cultural activities, Folk dance and much more to give you a wider picture of this sandy utopia. And as there’s a colony of camps out here, it feels like a city that just appeared out of nowhere, at any time of the day.
Cultural evenings are a part of these Desert camps. The best of cultural and folk artists from Jaisalmer perform with their most authentic Rajasthani attire on. Kalbelia, a Rajasthani folk dance form, is most popular in the cultural evenings. People sit (or lie down) in a circle and Kalbelia dancer perform in the middle of it. You can also enjoy Rajasthani snacks along with the performance, which sets the mood even more. If you enjoyed the performance, you can even tip the dancers. It mesmerizes you to the extent that you’d want to match steps with them. Take these moves back to your place and call for a Dance Face-off; you can thank us later.
Apart from the Camel Safari sessions, we bring you great opportunities for the photographer inside you. If you’re a professional photographer, photography tours are a great way to discover the most bedazzling of landscapes through your lens. Wildlife photographers love this place for the rarest of species they get to click. The golden sands complimenting the gloomy sunset is what every shutterbug hopes to capture. Well, for them, Jaisalmer is like their ‘Dream come true’ on the back a camel.
Discover how different a desert looks from many feet above the ground with Parasailing and discover what it feels to fly like an eagle. However, you still won’t be able to see and hunt like an eagle. The activity is organized by authenticated personnel and is perfectly safe.
Hire a 4×4 vehicle and bash those sand dunes with a jeep, racing at a pace just a little lesser than your heartbeat. It is one of the favorite activities for adventure seekers. Remember, those times you wanted to break something? Well, how about bashing for now?
Camel Safari is the most captivating feature of Jaisalmer. Much more than just a ride, Camel Safari is what you need to get the essence of Jaisalmer and the exclusivity it holds within.
Golden sands as far as you see, unique wildlife spectrum, watching the desert lose its luster with an incredible view of a sunset you are going to remember for the rest of your life, are some of the most sumptuous moments that can be perceived only on a Camel Safari. Take pictures, roll down a sand dune, enjoy a unique candle light dinner with your soul mate or do whatever your imagination tells you to. And in case you need it, we’re there to make it better.
You can go for Short Camel Safari that winds up in a day, or longer ones that stretch up to several weeks. In either case, don’t forget to bring the essentials like hat, sunscreen and sunglasses. There are many Camel safari organizers in the city, but it is advised to opt for ones which exclusively organize it.
Concluding a Jaisalmer trip without souvenirs is as good as not concluding it. The vivid local handicraft markets are what you should be looking for before you leave. There are many local markets where you can buy the vivid signature items of Rajasthan like Showpieces, Traditional attire and more. Excited enough to buy? Then don’t forget to check out these market places:
Sadar Bazaar: Known for Handicraft items, Jewels, Wooden items and Souvenirs.
Sonaron ka baas: Best place for all kinds of Authentic Indian and Rajasthani jewellery.
Seema Gram: Controlled by the Government; typically famous for Handicrafts items at best prices.
Manak Chowk: With the most intricate architectural construction, this market shows the rich cultural heritage and traditions of Rajasthan. Good place for typical souvenirs.
Pansari Bazaar: Oldest market of Rajasthan; truly showcases the history of Jaisalmer. Also called Villager’s market, it’s a great place for buying ethnic items.
Jaisalmer Fort a.k.a Sonar Quila a.k.a. Golden Fort is the most magnificent monument of Jaisalmer and probably in the whole of Rajasthan. It stands in the middle of Thar Desert and made of Yellow sandstones which turn Honey-Golden, as the sun starts to set. Because taking a note of its huge significance in Indian architecture, it was declared a ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’ by UN. There are many temples of different religions inside the fort, among which, Tanot Rai Mata Temple, Jain Temple and Parshavnath Ji Temple are the most visited.
Tanot Rai Mata Temple
This temple has an incredible story linked to it. During the India-Pakistan War in 1965, Pakistan launched many bombs and explosives, targeting Jaisalmer. Jaisalmer city took much damage from the shower of bombs. But miraculously, all the bombs that fell inside the temple premises failed to explode. Almost 450 bombs fell inside the temple premises and not even a single bomb exploded. The temple didn’t incur any damage whatsoever, and the bombs are now kept in the fort museum for tourists.
Another site of Jaisalmer with a mysterious epic latched with its name is Kuldhara village. Back in the regal era, the village was inhabited exclusively by Paliwal Brahmins (the highest caste in India) and was known as one of the most prosperous villages of Rajasthan. But one night, for unknown reason, the inhabitants abandoned the village and never came back since. The ruins of the village have many traces of the Paliwal Brahmin’s way of life and is a popular tourist attraction.
Akal Wood Fossil Park
What if we told you that you can witness something as old as 180 million years? Would you believe us? Well, you’ll have to believe it anyway when you see an entire forest, preserved in the form of fossils. A major point of attraction for geologists around the world, Akal Wood Fossil Park was actually a forest which unfortunately submerged in water in the Jurassic Era but fortunately came back for us. God is good!
Salim ki Haveli
Salim Singh, the son of Minister Swarup Singh, owned this affluent piece of architecture. Often referred to as Jahazmahal, as its frontal part resembles to a ship. Wholly made of sandstones, the roof of the haveli (bungalow) has been constructed with patterns similar to a peacock. There are a total of 38 balconies in the haveli with a variety of architectural work. Huge tuskers on the sides of the gateway adds to the magnificence of this monument.
This huge lake, in the older times, acted as a water reservoir for the entire Jaisalmer, built in 1400 AD by King. A series of Forts and Temples surrounds the lake which contributes to the authenticity of the view. Wildlife lovers visit this place to witness the rare migratory birds.
Desert National Park
With an astounding area of 3162 square kilometers, this is one of the largest national parks in the world. It is the shelter to an uncountable number of species in the desert of Thar, including Eagles, Saw-scaled Viper snake, Indian bustards, Russell’s viper, Desert fox and many more.
Jain temples of Jaisalmer are one of the most unique pieces of architecture in India.They are among the oldest Jain temples in the world (12th to 15th century) and are rated high on archeological value. Their eminence comes from the style they are built in i.e Dilwara style, and they are built of Yellow sandstones. The temples are dedicated to two famous tirthankaras (hermits): Rikhabdev ji and Shambhavdev Ji.
Eating the Rajasthani food just like a local is something that’s going to be daunting for you unless you’re born in Rajasthan. Not even Indians from other parts of the country can tolerate its spiciness. As already mentioned, it is so spicy; it is sure to induce sweating. Most of the gravy cuisines are Red in color because of the excessive Red Chilies unless specially cooked for you, taking into account ‘your puny tolerance for spices’. Another known ingredient of Rajasthani food is Besan (gram flour).
But to understand what we are exactly trying to say here, you need to try these Rajasthani cuisines, without fail:
Dal Baati Churma
This is probably the most known face of the Rajasthani Thali (platter) around the world. It wouldn’t be incorrect to imply you missed the gist of the trip if you didn’t try this cuisine. Dal Baati Churma is composed of what it says: Dal, Baati and Chruma.
Dal is pulses cooked with water, similar to stew in your country. (Lot of protein in there). Baati is what you load with Dal to discover a deadly combination. It is a ball of whole wheat, which is dipped in ghee and stuffed with Besan. You can also get Plain Baati, but honestly, it’s not that great.
Gatte ki Sabji
Another most known cuisine of the Rajasthani Thali. It is a traditional curry based cuisine which has two components: Gatta and Curry. Gatta is a small dish made from refined Gram flour, which is cooked in gravy made from Spices and lots of chilies. Don’t forget to sit with a glass of water if you still can’t anticipate how spicy it could be.
Often confused with a pickle, Ker Sangri is cuisine that’s a little obscure to other parts of India, but it doesn’t mean it holds a lower rank when it comes to totally taking over your buds. Ker (a type of berry) and Sangri (a type of bean) are the prime ingredients of this sumptuous, flavorful massacre. It is made with lots of oil to inculcate the spices in every bit of the ingredients. The cuisine is coupled with Chapaati.
Laal, in hindi, means ‘Red’ and Maas means ‘Meat’. By now, you must have already got the reason why it is called Laal Maans. It’s because it has Red Meat, right? WRONG!
It’s because the curry which is coupled with Mutton, is actually Red in color as it has huge amounts of Red Chilies. So, in a nutshell, it’s more of a challenge, than a cuisine. Do you dare?
Safed Maas is good news for those who backed out from the ‘Laal Maas Challenge’ and were worried that they wouldn’t get Non-veg food in Jaisalmer. Safed Maas is the antonym to Laal Maas. The curry, which is used in this dish, is made from Dry fruits, Milk, Cream and Curd. We’d recommend a huge ‘Go for it’.
Pyaz Kachori is a kind of a richer snack pastry, stuffed with fried onions, spices and chilies. It is eaten along with Green chutney (sauce). You can make a hole in your Pyaz Kachori and brim it all the Green Chutney. And when you take a bite, it spills all out but you keep going like that. Nasty, isn’t it?
If you’re tired of hearing Chili (which you probably are), here’s another good news for you and this might be the shortest good news ever: ‘Makhania Lassi’. Refined, agitated sweet curd beverage mixed with spices and dry fruits, is something you’d be in an argent need of, after having Laal Maas, to calm your taste buds. Nevertheless, it’s an evergreen beverage.
Moong Dal Halwa
This sweet dish is the holy grail of sweetness for those who prefer a sweet dish which isn’t too heavy and leaves a little space for more, every time. But the most unique thing about it is that it is made from Moong Dal, which qualifies in the category of pulses. It is prepared with lavish amounts of Desi Ghee (concentrated butter) which flows all over in the dish. Sounds like a messy paradise, right? Well, here’s something: Halwa literally translates to ‘Mess’.
The essence of Jaisalmer, if had to be described in three words, would be: Camels, Desert and Royalty. From the most royal architectural specimens to the most realistic ruins, simplest of food preparations to the most royal cuisines; in every aspect, Jaisalmer has preserved a culture that has etched itself to the Indian history. And if you look closely, there’s uniformity in every aspect. It’s like there’s a composite tale this place is trying to narrate. All you need to do is ‘listen closely’.
And in case you’re still wondering why you should visit Jaisalmer, remember:
This is Gattu. And Gattu is waiting for you!