The magnificent royal forts, beautifully carved gates and temples, yellow sandstone playing a prominent role in the beauty of the city’s architecture and of course the mirage of the Thar Desert make Jaisalmer one of the most visited places in Rajasthan. Established in the mid-12th century by Rawal Jaisal, after whom the city is named, Jaisalmer has emerged to be a place of historical and architectural value.If planning a trip to this royal city of Rajasthan, here’s what you must not miss these 15 best places to visit in Jaisalmer.
Undoubtedly the most famous tourist attraction, Jaisalmer Fort is the largest fort in the city. The fort was built by one of the most powerful rulers of Jaisalmer, Rao Jaisal in 1156 AD. The fort has been a witness to several battles and protected the pride and glory of the state and is also known as the Golden Fort, owing to its location at the golden stretches of Thar Desert. The fort is a sight to behold with its 99 turrets at night, glowing in the yellow and golden hues of the Thar desert and the city lights. The intricately carves doors, windows and walls of this fort offer one of the finest examples of the rich culture of art in India.
Originally built as a conservation reservoir for rain water harvesting by the then Maharawal of Jaisalmer, Gadsi Singh, and the Gadsisar Lake is named after him. It was built in 1400 AD and used to be one of the major sources of water in the city. The Gadsisar Lake encompasses several temples and shrines and is an ideal spot for birdwatchers, especially during winters, when the lake is flocked with exotic species of migratory birds. Several ghats, beautifully carved cenotaphs and pockets of colorful gardens add to the charm and beauty of this place and it is famous among tourists and locals, alike.
Salim Singh ki Haveli
This popular haveli was built in the 18th century and is famous tourist spot in Jaisalmer. Residence to the influential Mehta family of Jaisalmer. The roof of this beautiful haveli resembles a peacock’s physical form and has a unique architecture. It is known as Salim Singh ki Haveli after it was commissioned by the then Prime Minister of Jaisalmer, Salim Singh. The gates of this haveli are flanked by tuskers and are made of sandstone, as are the tuskers. But looking at the tuskers, it is hard to believe they are not real. In the background of this haveli, one can see hills and it gives an ethereal look to the place.
Patwon ki Haveli
Known for its history and architecture, Patwon ki Haveli is a large 5-storeyed building, situated in the main city of Jaisalmer. It is one of the largest havelis in the city and was built by a wealthy trader, Guman Patwa and his sons. It is believed that the Patwa family fled the haveli at the mercy of their caretakers, who then became the owners of the haveli. The haveli is known for its architectural beauty, with its finely carved walls, archways, jharokhas. It is also known as the merchants’ mansion, who are wealthy traders dealing in gold and silver items and is an architectural marvel.
Known to be an architectural marvel, Tazia Tower was built by Maharwal Berisal Singh in 1886 AD and it resembles the mausoleums or burial chambers of various Imams of the city. This tower was constructed by Muslims craftsmen and has a unique architectural design, The shape of this tower resembles that of a ‘tazia’, a representation of the tombs of Hasan and Hussain (the grandsons of Prophet Muhammad). The Tazia Tower offers a panaromic view of the city and is famous for its architecture and is a paradise for photographers. The exquisite layout of the tower and the beautiful carvings and murals on the ceiling add to its beauty.
Now a sprawling garden, Bada Bagh was once an attempt by the rulers of Jaisalmer to add some greenery to this desert city. This garden complex now also has a series of royal tombs and is located 6kms away from the main city. One can pay their respects to the cenotaphs or tombstones of the members of the erstwhile royal family members. An artificial dam was also constructed near the Bada Bagh, which is the main source of water for this garden. The array of tombstones and the garden are a delight to visitors and a must visit in Jaisalmer.
The history of Jain Temple dates back to between 12th and 15th century and its architecture resembles the Dilwara temple, made of yellow sandstone. They are the oldest temples in Jaisalmer, situated inside the premises of the Jaisalmer Fort. The walls of the Jain temple have beautiful paintings and carvings of animal and human form and leave you spellbound. It is a group of temples, the most famous one being Parshwanath temple. The Rishabhnath and Sambhavanath temples are located about 16kms away from the city of Jaisalmer. Jain devotees visit these temples every year to pay their respects to Jain Tirthankars, RIshabhdevji and Shambhavdevji.
Amar Sagar Lake
Situated at a distance of 7kms on the western part of the city of Jaisalmer, Amar Sagar is a lake as well as an oasis, adjacent to the Amar Singh Palace. To honour his predecessor Amar Singh, this lake was built by Maharawal Akhai Singh in the 17th The structural complex of Amar Sagar Lake includes several ponds and wells, and an old Shiva Temple which was built by Maharawal Amar Singh, who was a devotee of Lord Shiva. Pavilions with stairs in the Amar Singh Palace lead down to the Amar Sagar Lake.
Built between the 9th and the 10th century, Mandir Palace was residence to the rulers of Jaisalmer for over 200 years. A fine example of architecture and craftsmanship, the Mandir Palace is known for the beautifully carved walls and ceilings, fancy galleries and cut screens and represents the rich cultural history of Rajasthan. The ‘Badal Vilas’ which is the tallest structure at Mandir Palace is another reason for the fame of this palace.
Sam Sand Dunes
Located on the outskirts of Jaisalmer, the Sam Sand Dunes are a must visit when in the city. Lose yourself in the heart of the ‘Great Thar Desert’ with this desert safari. Known for its alluring stretch of sweeping dunes with sparse vegetation, the best way to get to this place is ofcorse the camelback. Set off on a desert safari at the Sam Sand dunes and experience the magnificent crests and troughs along the way. The Desert Safari is organized throughout winter and turns into a cultural hub, with displays of folk dance and music, puppet shows, camel races and dance competitions. Enjoy the safari and the rich culture of Rajathan here, sitting by the bonfire.
Vyas Chhtari, as it’s famously known, is a cenotaph dedicated to sage Vyas, who compiled the Hindu epic, Mahabharata. It’s a confluence of beautiful sandstone chhatris and is located on an old Brahmin graveyard, northwest of the city. The Vyas Chhtari is also known as Sunset Point, as one can get a bird’s eye view of the picturesque city of Jaisalmer at sunset. The Sunset Point is quite famous among tourists and an equal hit among photographers.
One of the 4 entrances to the Jaisalmer Fort, the Surya Gate is famous for its intricate carvings on yellow sandstone. To reach the main castle, visitors have to cross the four main doors known as the Akhai Gate, Surya Gate, Ganesh Gate and Hawa Gate. Surya Gate is the narrowest of them all, with the aim of dissuading enemies from invading the castle. There are numerous shops lined between the Akhai Gate and Surya Gate where tourists can buy little antiques and gift items.
The Thar Heritage Museum
Known as the house of antique, the That Heritage Museum has preserved many antiquities of Jaisalmer such as the turbans, musical instruments, kitchenware and fossils. It even holds shows on birth, death, marriage and opium traditions. The use of opium was quite extensive in Jaisalmer several centuries ago. It was used by men and women to relax and rejuvenate.
Desert Culture Centre and Museum
Rajasthan is a city with a rich culture and heritage and the communities there are proud of their customs and traditions. The Desert Culture Centre and Museum is a place that gives you a sneak peek into the culture and heritage of Jaisalmer. With its display of Rajasthani textile, artifacts, utensils, musical instruments, weapons and rare coins, the Museum proves to be a place of interest for historians and curious travelers. The opium mixing box called ‘Karal’ is a point of special interest for many tourists, which was a common practice several centuries ago in Rajasthan.
Now considered to be a haunted village, Kuldhara was earlier known to be the largest village in the community, with 84 villages under it. But it is believed that the people of all the 84 villages vanished in the 19th century and the reason is still not known. Some say the village was cursed and hence, the villagers disappeared overnight. But the haunted ruins of Kuldhara village are a must explore to admire the beauty of the remains of its architecture such as temples and step wells.