Unlike any other city, this desert fortress is one of Rajasthan's most exotic and unusual towns. Jaisalmer, an important ancient trading centre because of its strategic location on the camel trade routes, is often described as the 'golden city'. The havelis, built by merchants of the 19th century, are exquisitely carved from golden-yellow sandstone and are still in a beautiful condition. The fort built by Rawal Jaisal in the 12th century, stands on the 80 metre high Trikuta hill, with beautifully carved Jain temples. The annual desert festival take place in January and February each year and is a riot of colour and activity. Jaisalmer is also famous for its embroidery, Rajasthani mirror work, rugs, blankets, antique, stonework and camel safaris into the barren sand-duned desert.
Built in 1156 by the Bhatti ruler, Jaisala, the fort stands atop the 80 m high Trikuta hill. The fort is surrounded by 3 walls and features 99 bastions. Over the centuries, the golden sand stone fortress witnessed many battles between the Bhattis, the mughals and the rathors of Jodhpur.
Within the fort complex lie the beautifully carved Jain Temples built between the 12th and 15th centuries. The Maharawals (rulers) of Jaisalmer were devout Hindus but were tolerant of Jainism, and encouraged art and religion. There are 7 temples in the complex - Chandraprabhu, Parasnath, Shitalnath, Sambhavnath, Shantinath, Kunthunath and Rikhabdev Temple. The temples are all connected by a series of corridors and walkways. Closeby is the Gyan Bhandar, a library founded in 1500 A.D. This house is priceless ancient manuscripts and other exhibits like astrological charts, besides the Jain equivalent of the Christian Shroud of Turin.
It is located in a centre of the fort. The less ornate Hindu temple in the complex features an interesting dome that exhibits fine paintings.
Jaisalmer's strategic position on the camel terrain route bought it great wealth. The merchants grew prosperous and commissioned great havelis, or mansions, to flaunt their ever growing status in society. Made of local golden-yellow sand stone and wood, some of the havelis are still in excellent condition. The most elaborate and magnificent of all the Jaisalmer havelis is the Patwaon Ki Haveli. The haveli was built between 1800 and 1860 by five Jain brothers. Salim Singh Ki Haveli and Nathmal Ki Haveli are the other two havelis that are opened to visitors.
Once the source of water supply to the city. The tank is surrounded by shrines and temples and a variety of waterfowl can be spotted here in the winter months.
Sunset camel ride on the Sam Sand Dunes
A trip to Jaisalmer is incomplete without this visit to most panoramic Dunes of Sam, where the wind is unceasingly carving out scenic patterns on this desert sand, truly the essence of the desert, the ripples of the Dunes create a enchanting mirage. By visiting the Sam Sand Dunes, it is possible to get an insight into desert life from Jaisalmer itself! Camel rides on the Sand Dunes are a thrilling experience, as is the brilliant sunset.