Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

   
Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Jaislamer is a unique architectural masterpiece; a magical sandstone city unlike any other in India. Much as in the Shekhawati region, the wealth generated by their taxes was used to decorate the havelis of the wealthy Jain businessmen. Where frescoes satisfied the Shekhawats, in Jaisalmer power was expressed by the construction of mansions whose soft sandstone facades were embellished with intricate, almost lacelike carvings. These oft-photographed mansions are indeed breathtakingly beautiful, but it is Sonar Killa, literally "Golden Fort," that makes it worth traveling this far west.

This is the world's only inhabited medieval fort, its families living in homes they have colonized for more than 800 years. Built entirely from yellow sandstone, the fort rises like a giant sandcastle from its desert surrounds, with great views from the tiny guesthouses that lie within its ramparts. Exploring the maze-like alleys and bazaars is part of the fun and the sunsets over the Thar Dessert have to be seen to be believed. The fort towers over ancient medieval alleyways and winding streets filled with intricately carved spires, turrets, palaces as well as Jain and Hindu temples. It attracts visitors seduced by the mystery and romantic charm of the desert and many choose to go on an unforgettable camel safari through this remote area.

Events:

Desert Festival (07-09 February 2009)
The golden city of Jaisalmer comes alive each February for the annual Desert Festival. The three-day event kicks off with an incredible parade of camels and locals dressed in fine Rajasthani mirrored clothes, with accompanying musicians. Indian acrobatic troupes, puppeteers, fakirs and jugglers of all sorts scamper through the massive red sandstone fort of Jaisalmer and perform in the desert surrounding the town. In addition, there are camel races and polo matches on camels (a legacy of the Raj) at the Dedansar Polo Ground, a turban-tying competition and even a Moustache Competition, seeking the Rajasthani with the finest and longest moustache.

For more information on festival based programmes email: info@luxeindia.in

Jaisalmer Attractions:

  • Jaisalmer Fort- Jaisalmer's main attraction is its yellow sandstone fort, whose 9m (29-ft.) walls grow in a roughly triangular shape, springing from Trikuta (Triangular) Hill, on which it is built, and buttressed by 99 bastions. Within you will find a number of elaborately carved havelis overlooking the narrow streets, but the best examples of Jaisalmer's unique havelis are situated in the town below. If you're more sedentary, head for Mirage, the rooftop terrace at the Narayan Niwas Palace, for the best view of the Golden Fort; as the sky darkens, the fort starts to glow.
  • Gadsisar Tank- The Gadsisar Tank excavated by the Maharaja Gadsi Singh in 1367 has a few temples and a chhattri (cenotaph) overlooking it but is principally worth visiting to access the nearby Folklore Museum. The private museum contains some interesting exhibits, particularly the handcrafted items (look for the mobile temple, and the depiction of the tragic love story of Princess Moomal and King Mahendra).
  • Jaisalmer Havelis- Haveli refers to a traditional, ornate Rajasthani "mansion," with one or more internal courtyards. The most impressive are Patwon ki Haveli, Salim Singh ki Haveli, and Nathmalji ki Haveli. Patwon ki Haveli actually comprises five ornate houses built by the wealthy Patwon for his five sons between 1800 and 1860. The houses are connected from within and have flat-topped roofs. Inside one of the houses is the Basant Art Emporium, where you can pick up truly exquisite handicrafts collected by the owner from the desert tribes. Near the fort entrance, is Salim Singh ki Haveli, built by a particularly mean-spirited and greedy prime minister who extorted the Rajput's kings' subjects, and even squeezed the royal family by providing huge loans and then charging exorbitant interest rates. It was apparently once two stories higher, but legend has it that the Rajput king blew away the top floors in a fit of pique, and Salim Singh was later stabbed to death.
  • Camel Safaris- The best way to visit Jaisalmer's desert surrounds is on a camel safari. Many include the following places of interest. Amar Sagar is a small settlement with a palace and a restored Jain temple built around the shores of a lake that lies 5km (3 miles) northwest of Jaisalmer. Barra Bagh, which lies 6km (3 3/4 miles) north of town, is a mini-oasis where you can view a collection of cenotaphs to Jaisalmer's Rajput rulers. Another 10km (6 1/4 miles) north lies Lodurva, once the capital of the Bhatti Rajputs before Jaisalmer was built. The main attractions here are more restored Jain temples, with the usual fine carvings. The entrance to Thar Desert National Park lies about an hour (45km/28 miles) from Jaisalmer, near Khuri. Wildlife you are likely to encounter includes deer, desert fox, black buck, and the rare Great Indian Bustard.

Access:

  • By Air – Jaisalmer. Charter flights / helicopters can be arranged
  • By Rail – Jaisalmer
Luxe Hotel:
Fort Rajwada
Designed in the style of a traditional Rajput fort with bedrooms located around courtyards, this comfortable hotel which faces the famous Golden Fort is made of intricate stone-work following the lines of Jaisalmer’s famed tradition. It is amongst the better hotels in the city and has a fusion of traditional Indian, minimalist European and ethnic styles, which combine comfort and character in a seamless manner. The pool is a refreshing place to relax and escape the heat of the desert and the bar and restaurants are of a fun and contemporary design that make them more than worth a visit.