Termed as ‘’The Golden City’’ because of its golden colored structures and proximity to the iconic Thar Desert, Jaisalmer is a beautiful city in the state of Rajasthan. Dating to 12th century, Jaisalmer is the place where you can discover and trace geologic tragedies that occurred in the Thar Dessert 180 million years ago. The history of Jaisalmer dates to the medieval period when it was founded by MaharawalJaisal Singh in 1156 AD. The city is named after its founder and was originally called "Jaisalmer", which means "the Hill Fort of Jaisal".
Jaisalmer was located on an important trade route that connected India with Central Asia and the Middle East. As a result, it became a center of trade and commerce, and many wealthy merchants and traders settled in the city. During the 16th century, Jaisalmer came under the control of the Mughal Empire, and it continued to flourish as a center of trade and commerce. However, in the 18th century, the city came under attack from the Marathas, who sacked the city and plundered its wealth.
After the decline of the Mughal Empire, Jaisalmer became a princely state under the British Raj. The city continued to be a center of trade and commerce and became an important center of arts and culture.Today, Jaisalmer is known for its beautiful architecture, including the Jaisalmer Fort, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is also known for its sandstone buildings and its vibrant culture, including its music, dance, and art and is a popular tourist destination attracting visitors from all over the world.
Places to Visit
- Jaisalmer Fort: Also known as Sonar Quila, this impressive fortress is one of the largest forts in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in 1156 AD, the fort is made of golden sandstone and stands atop a hill overlooking the city. It houses numerous palaces, temples, and havelis, including the Raj Mahal, Jain Temples, and the Laxminath Temple.
- Jain Temples: These intricately carved temples are among the most beautiful in Jaisalmer, and a must-visit for those interested in architecture and history. Built between the 12th and 15th centuries, the temples are dedicated to Jain Tirthankaras and feature elaborate carvings depicting scenes from Jain mythology.
- Patwon Ki Haveli: This 19th-century mansion is one of the most famous havelis in Jaisalmer, known for its intricate carvings and beautiful architecture. It was built by a wealthy Jain merchant named Guman Chand Patwa and is a complex of five havelis, each with its own unique style.
- Desert National Park: This park covers an area of 3,162 square kilometers and is home to a wide range of desert flora and fauna. Visitors can see rare bird species such as the Great Indian Bustard, as well as the elusive Indian wild ass. The park also offers camel safaris and jeep tours for those who want to explore the desert.
- Gadisar Lake: This man-made lake was built in the 14th century and was once the city's main source of water. Today, it is a popular spot for boating and birdwatching, with numerous temples and ghats (steps leading down to the water) along its shores.
- Kuldhara Village: This abandoned village near Jaisalmer is said to be haunted and has a fascinating history. Legend has it that the Paliwal Brahmins who lived here disappeared overnight in the 19th century, leaving behind a ghost town. Today, visitors can explore the ruins and learn more about the village's mysterious past.
- Bada Bagh: This beautiful garden complex is located about 6 km from Jaisalmer and is famous for its cenotaphs (or chhatris) which are dedicated to the rulers of Jaisalmer. The gardens are a great spot for picnics and offer stunning views of the surrounding desert.
- Tazia Tower: This five-storied tower is in the Badal Palace complex and is famous for its intricate design and architecture. It was built in the late 19th century by Muslim craftsmen and features balconies, arches, and minarets.
- Salim Singh Ki Haveli: This haveli was built by Salim Singh, the prime minister of Jaisalmer in the 19th century. It is famous for its distinctive roof, which is shaped like a peacock. Visitors can explore the haveli's many rooms, courtyards, and balconies.
- Khuri Sand Dunes: These stunning sand dunes are located about 45 km from Jaisalmer and are a popular spot for camel safaris and desert camping. Visitors can watch the sunset over the dunes and enjoy a traditional Rajasthani meal under the stars.
- Camel Safari: One of the most popular experiences in Jaisalmer is taking a camel safari into the Thar Desert. Visitors can ride camels through the sand dunes, watch the sunset over the desert, and enjoy a traditional Rajasthani meal under the stars.
- Desert Camping: Another popular experience is spending a night in a desert camp, where visitors can enjoy traditional folk music and dance performances and wake up to stunning views of the sunrise over the dunes.
- Jeep Safari: For those who prefer a faster pace, a jeep safari is a great way to explore the Thar Desert. Visitors can drive through the sand dunes and visit remote villages and temples.
- Hot Air Balloon Ride: For a unique view of the city and the desert, visitors can take a hot air balloon ride over Jaisalmer. This experience offers stunning views of the sand dunes and the city's landmarks from a bird's eye view.
- Dal BaatiChurma: This is a traditional Rajasthani dish that consists of lentil soup (dal), wheat balls (baati), and a sweet dessert made of wheat flour and jaggery (churma).
- Ker Sangri: It is a spicy and tangy dish made from dried berries and beans native to the region.
- Laal Maans: This is a fiery lamb curry that gets its distinct red color and flavor from a combination of chili powder, yoghurt, and local spices.
- Gatte ki Sabzi: It is a popular vegetarian dish that features gram flour dumplings simmered in a spicy tomato-based gravy.
- Pyaaz Kachori: This is a popular street food in Jaisalmer that is made with a crispy pastry filled with spiced onion and potato.
- Mawa Kachori: This is another sweet version of kachori that is filled with sweetened khoya (mawa) and nuts and served with a drizzle of syrup.
- Malpua: This is a sweet pancake-like dessert made from flour, milk, and sugar and is deep-fried and soaked in syrup.
- Lassi: A popular yogurt-based drink in Jaisalmer, which comes in different flavors like mango, rose, and saffron.
- Saffron Restaurant: Located inside the Suryagarh Hotel, Saffron is known for its delicious Rajasthani and Indian cuisine. The restaurant has a beautiful ambiance, and the staff is very hospitable.
- Trio: Trio is a rooftop restaurant that offers stunning views of the Jaisalmer Fort and the surrounding desert landscape. The restaurant serves a mix of Indian, Chinese, and Continental cuisine.
- The Yellow House: The Yellow House is a quaint restaurant located inside a beautiful haveli in the heart of Jaisalmer. The restaurant serves delicious vegetarian and non-vegetarian Indian cuisine, and the ambiance is very cozy.
- Killa Corner: Killa Corner is a popular restaurant located inside the Jaisalmer Fort. The restaurant serves a mix of Indian, Chinese, and Continental cuisine, and the rooftop seating offers beautiful views of the fort.
- Jaisal Italy: As the name suggests, Jaisal Italy is an Italian restaurant located in the heart of Jaisalmer. The restaurant serves delicious wood-fired pizzas, pastas, and other Italian delicacies.
Nightlife (Clubs, Pubs, Lounges)
- Drifter's Cafe & Bar: Located on Fort Road, Drifter's Cafe & Bar is a popular hangout spot for tourists and locals alike. The bar has a cozy ambiance and serves a variety of drinks, including beer, cocktails, and mocktails.
- Gaji's Restaurant and Rooftop Bar: Gaji's Restaurant and Rooftop Bar is a popular spot for tourists visiting Jaisalmer. The bar offers beautiful views of the city and the surrounding desert landscape and serves a variety of drinks and light snacks.
- The Suryagarh Hotel Bar: The Suryagarh Hotel is one of the most luxurious hotels in Jaisalmer, and its bar is known for its excellent selection of drinks and beautiful ambiance. The bar is open till late and serves a variety of cocktails, wine, and beer.
- The Marriott Hotel Bar: The Marriott Hotel is another luxury hotel in Jaisalmer, and its bar is a great place to unwind after a long day of sightseeing. The bar serves a variety of drinks, including cocktails, wine, and beer.
- Incredible Discotheque: Incredible Discotheque is a popular nightclub in Jaisalmer, known for its lively atmosphere and dance floor. The club plays a variety of music, including Bollywood, Western, and electronic dance music, and is open till late at night.
- Draksh the Bar and Shatranj the Bar: Draksh the Bar and Shatranj the Bar are two bars located in the Marriott Hotel in Jaisalmer. While they are not nightclubs per se, they do have a lively atmosphere and serve a variety of drinks, making them a popular spot for guests looking to unwind after a long day of sightseeing.
- Satan’s Den: Satan’s Den is another nightclub located in Jaisalmer, which is popular among both locals and tourists. The club plays a variety of music and has a vibrant atmosphere, complete with neon lights and a dance floor.
- Jaisalmer Desert Festival: This is a three-day festival that takes place in February every year. The festival celebrates the rich culture and heritage of Rajasthan and features cultural performances, camel races, folk music, and dance.
- Teej Festival: Teej Festival is celebrated in August every year and is dedicated to the Goddess Parvati. The festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm by women who dress up in colorful clothes and jewelry and offer prayers to the Goddess.
- Jaisalmer International Film Festival: This is an annual event that takes place in January and showcases films from around the world. The festival aims to promote Jaisalmer as a film destination and to promote Indian cinema globally.
- Gangaur Festival: Gangaur Festival is celebrated in March every year and is dedicated to the Goddess Gauri. The festival is celebrated by women who dress up in colorful clothes and jewelry and offer prayers to the Goddess.
- Marwar Festival: Marwar Festival is celebrated in October every year and is dedicated to the brave warriors of Rajasthan. The festival features cultural performances, folk music, and dance.
Museums and Art Galleries
- Kothari’s Patwa Haveli Museum – A mansion turned museum; it showcases the lifestyle of the city’s Patwa family who were the wealthy Jain brocade merchants. The mansion’s architecture, intricate designs, utensils, furniture, interior, etc., have been recreated to give an idea of how the Patwa family lived a luxurious life.
- Jaisalmer War Museum: This museum is dedicated to the brave soldiers of the Indian Army who have fought for the country. It showcases various war exhibits, including tanks, guns, and aircraft, as well as stories of the valiant soldiers who fought for India.
- Desert Cultural Centre and Museum: Located inside the Jaisalmer Fort, this museum showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Thar Desert. It features exhibits on Rajasthani folk art, music, and dance, as well as displays on the history of the region.
- Jaisalmer Folklore Museum: This museum is dedicated to preserving the traditional folk art and crafts of Rajasthan. It features exhibits on local costumes, puppets, musical instruments, and other handicrafts.
- Artisans Gallery: This gallery showcases the work of local artisans, including traditional Rajasthani paintings, textiles, and jewelry. It's a great place to pick up souvenirs and support local artists.
- GarhJaisal Museum: This museum is located inside the Jaisalmer Fort and houses a collection of artifacts and exhibits on the history of the fort and the city. It also offers stunning views of the surrounding desert landscape.
- Hotel Fifu: A budget hotel located near Jaisalmer Fort with clean and comfortable rooms, starting from around INR 1200/night.
- Hotel Tokyo Palace: A budget hotel located in the city center with basic amenities and clean rooms, starting from around INR 900/night.
- Mystic Jaisalmer: A budget hotel with a rooftop restaurant and comfortable rooms, starting from around INR 1200/night.
- Shahi Palace Hotel: A budget hotel located near the Jaisalmer Fort with clean and comfortable rooms, starting from around INR 1000/night.
- Suryagarh Jaisalmer: A luxury hotel located outside the city with traditional Rajasthani architecture, luxurious rooms, spa, and pool. Prices start from around INR 16,000/night.
- Marriott Jaisalmer Resort & Spa: A luxury resort with modern amenities, spa, and pool. Prices start from around INR 12,000/night.
- Fort Rajwada: A luxury hotel located near Jaisalmer Fort with luxurious rooms, pool, spa, and restaurant. Prices start from around INR 10,000/night.
- Jaisalmer Marriott Hotel: A modern luxury hotel located outside the city with luxurious rooms, spa, pool, and restaurant. Prices start from around INR 8,000/night.
- Sadar Bazaar: It is a popular market in Jaisalmer that offers a wide range of products, including handicrafts, textiles, jewelry, and souvenirs. It is an excellent place to buy traditional Rajasthani clothes, such as bandhani, leheriya, and mirror work.
- Bhatia Bazaar: Bhatia Bazaar is famous for its leather products, such as shoes, bags, belts, and wallets. Visitors can also find silver jewelry, handicrafts, and traditional Rajasthani puppets here.
- Pansari Bazaar: Pansari Bazaar is known for its spices and herbs, such as saffron, cardamom, and cinnamon. Visitors can also find traditional Rajasthani snacks and sweets here.
- Manak Chowk: Manak Chowk is a bustling market in Jaisalmer that offers a range of products, including textiles, handicrafts, jewelry, and souvenirs. Visitors can also find delicious street food here.
- Sonaron ka Baas: Sonaron ka Baas is a market famous for its gold and silver jewelry. Visitors can find traditional Rajasthani jewelry, such as bangles, necklaces, and earrings, here.
Jaisalmer is a historic city known for its ancient forts, palaces, and markets. While there are several markets in Jaisalmer that offer a unique shopping experience, the city does not have any shopping malls in the conventional sense. However, there are a few shopping complexes that offer a mix of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Here are some of them:
- Pansari Bazaar Shopping Complex: This shopping complex is located near the famous Pansari Bazaar and offers a mix of shops selling clothes, accessories, and souvenirs. Visitors can also find a few restaurants and fast-food joints here.
- Bombay Garments Shopping Complex: This is a popular shopping complex located in the heart of the city. It has a wide range of shops selling clothes, shoes, and accessories for men and women.
- Ashapura Shopping Complex: Ashapura Shopping Complex is located near the Jaisalmer Fort and offers a mix of shops selling handicrafts, textiles, and souvenirs. Visitors can also find a few restaurants and cafes here.
- Desert Art Gallery
- Hari Om Jewelers
- Shayama Cashmere Store
- Jai Shankar Handicrafts
- Ajay Leather Shop
- Silk Route Art Gallery
- Kunj Saree (Rajasthani Traditional Saree)
- Basant Art Emporium
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Jaisalmer is from October to March, when the weather is pleasant and ideal for sightseeing and outdoor activities. The temperature during this time ranges from 10°C to 25°C, making it the perfect time to explore the city without worrying about the scorching heat.
Avoid visiting Jaisalmer during the summer months (April to June) as the temperature can soar up to 45°C, making it difficult to explore the city during the day. The monsoon season (July to September) can also be unpredictable, with occasional rainfall and humid weather, which may hinder your travel plans.
How to Reach
- By Air: The nearest airport to Jaisalmer is Jodhpur Airport, which is around 285 km away. There are regular flights from major Indian cities to Jodhpur. From Jodhpur, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Jaisalmer.
- By Train: Jaisalmer has its own railway station, which is well-connected to major cities in India. There are direct trains from Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, and other cities to Jaisalmer. The Palace on Wheels, a luxury train that covers major tourist destinations in Rajasthan, also stops at Jaisalmer.
- By Road: Jaisalmer is well-connected to major cities in Rajasthan and neighboring states via road. You can take a bus or hire a taxi to reach Jaisalmer. Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation (RSRTC) and private bus operators run regular buses to Jaisalmer from Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, and other cities.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)
What is famous about Jaisalmer?
Jaisalmer is called the Golden City because of its sandstone architecture and proximity to Thar Desert. Its main attraction is the Jaisalmer Fort also called the Sonar Qila (golden fort). It is not just a fort but also houses a luxury hotel, shops, and havelis where generations continue to live.
Is 2 days enough for Jaisalmer?
Jaisalmer is a small town so if you short on time, then 2 days is enough to explore the major attractions there.
Is Jaisalmer expensive to visit?
Jaisalmer is not a very expensive city so a medium range budget will also suffice to explore the place.
When should we visit Jaisalmer?
November to March is the best time to visit Jaisalmer as the weather is pleasant during this time and it is also the time of the Jaisalmer Desert Festival.