JAISALMER - Jaisalmer is named after its founder Maharawal Jaisal Singh, a Rajput king.
Jaisalmer" means "the Hill Fort of Jaisal" and is sometimes called the "Golden City of India" because the yellow sandstone used in every architecture of the city gives a yellowish-golden tinge to the city and its surrounding area. Situated in the middle of the vast Thar Desert, it is crowned by a commanding fort etched in yellow sandstone, with all its awesome splendor, dominating the amber-hued city. The fort actually functions as intended and is still the site of an entire living area, home to a quarter of the city's population.
Jaisalmer still retains its medieval charm, which is evident in its colorful narrow streets, splendid forts and palaces, opulent havelis, and bazaars. The beautiful Havelis which were built by wealthy merchants of Jaisalmer are yet another interesting aspect of the desert city.
FAMOUS TOURIST PLACES OF JAISALMER
Situated six km north of Jaisalmer on way to Ramgarh. Royal cenotaphs with carved images of late Maharawals and their families are seen. Each chhatri preserves an inscribed tablet recording the death of Maharawals on which the memorials are raised. The chhatris have been built in a set pattern but in different sizes. The beautiful spot, Jait bundh (Dam) named after Maharawal Jait Singh was constructed in 1513 AD. Attached to the bundh (Dam), is a fruit garden.
This is a rainwater conservation lake built by Maharawal Gadsi in the 14th century. It was once the main source of drinking water for the entire town of Jaisalmer. Now a tourist spot, there are many small temples and shrines around it. A wide variety of water birds can be seen here especially in winter. This is the most popular point to take photographs of Jaisalmer fort early in the morning when the fort looks golden with the first rays of the Sun.
It is one of the largest forts in the world. It was built in 1156 AD by the Bhati Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal, from where it derives its name. The fort stands proudly amidst the golden stretches of the great Thar Desert, on Trikuta Hill, and has been the scene of many battles. Its massive yellow sandstone walls are a tawny lion color during the day, fading to honey-gold as the sun sets, thereby camouflaging the fort in the yellow desert, therefore it is also known as the "Golden Fort". This fort, popularly known as the 'Sonar Quila' by the locals, is located in the very heart of the city and is one of the most breathtaking monuments in the locality.
Khuri Sand Dunes
Khuri is a village 45 km southwest of Jaisalmer. It is a delightfully peaceful place with mud and straw decorated houses. One kilometer away from the village, patches of sand dunes are additional attractions for the tourists. Villagers in their rural world can be seen on the way to Khuri. The Khuri sand dunes offer you a memorable experience in the land of the Rajputs. Enjoy the ride on camelback and let the place itself take you to its mesmerizing heights. Get closer to the local way of living with a close view of thatched straw roofs, camels, narrow streets and the local bazaar.
Lodurva is the ancient capital of Bhattis Rajputs and was once a flourishing city but lost most of the splendor when the Bhattis shifted their capital to Jaisalmer. Nevertheless, this place is a major tourist attraction and attracts a lot of attention due to the ruins of Jain temples. The temples are made of bright yellow sandstones. Though in ruins, the splendors of these Jain temples are clearly visible. You will find temple walls decorated with the pictures of Lord Parsvanath, the 23rd Jain Tirthankar. The beautiful Jaali works make these temples a piece of marvel.
Nathmalji Ki Haveli
Two architect brothers built it in the 19th century. Interestingly, while one concentrated on the right, the other concentrated on the left and the result is a symphony epitomizing the side-by-side symmetry during construction. Paintings in miniature style monopolize the walls in the interior. Mighty tuskers carved out of yellow sandstone stand guard to the haveli. It is private property.
The Patwon Ji ki Haveli is an interesting piece of Architecture and is the most important among the Havelis in Jaisalmer. This is precisely because of two things, first that it was the first haveli erected in Jaisalmer and second, that it is not a single haveli but a cluster of 5 small Havelis. The first among these havelis was commissioned and constructed in the year 1805 by Guman Chand Patwa and is the biggest and the most ostentatious. It is believed that Patwa was a rich man and was a renowned trader of his time. He could afford and thus ordered the construction of separate stories for each of his 5 sons.
Salim Singh Ki Haveli
Salim Singh ki haveli has been built on the remains of an older haveli built in the late 17th century. The new building was built in the year 1815 and was occupied by the Mehta family of Jaisalmer. They were the most influential family of their time. This haveli was commissioned by Salim Singh, the then Prime Minister of the kingdom when Jaisalmer was the capital. The haveli has a distinct architecture. The roof has been constructed in the form of Peacock. The haveli is situated beside the hills near the Jaisalmer Fort.
Sam Sand Dunes
Some 45 km towards the west of the Jaisalmer city is located the barren yet beautiful shifting sand dunes adjoining the village Sam. There is no point coming to the Thar Desert if you don't go for the Desert Safari. That is why Sam sand dunes are becoming the major attraction in Jaisalmer. This is the closest place from where you can lose yourself in 'the Great Thar Desert'. Sam has a truly magnificent stretch of sweeping dunes, with sparse or no vegetation. The best way to get here, of course, is on camelback.