Jaipur has always been the first choice when it comes to visiting Rajasthan. It has fame all over the world for its architectural beauty of historical forts, palaces, monuments and natural beauty of gardens, lakes, wildlife and what not! But when visiting the city, most tourists picture Jaipur, the capital of the desert state as not only the land of forts and palaces but camels all over and a vast expanse of desert land. For them, Rajasthan means Jaipur and Jaipur means desert. With Rajasthan shown in movies, people expect that the whole Rajasthani is desert and there is just sand everywhere. Err…NO! You need to travel from Jaipur to Jaisalmer.
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A detailed guide: Jaipur to Jaisalmer
Well, for those who think Rajasthan is all about just deserts and camels? Here’s something that you must know. Rajasthan is the biggest state in India comprising a total of 33 districts, out of which only a few fall under the Thar Desert. Yes, the deserts are an astonishing and emblematic attraction of the state, but, only a part of Rajasthan is a desert and sandy while the rest is marked by the natural beauty that defies this notion of ‘a desert only’ state as these places boast an abundance of greenery and scenic lakes.
You might be curious about visiting the desert, to experience the feel of a desert breeze on your skin or to wade through miles and miles of eerily clear desert sand. Well, Jaisalmer is just the right place to be. It is the one majestic land among those few areas which fall under desert land which seems to be straight out of the Arabian Nights fables. Want to know more about this glittering gold city? How to reach Jaisalmer? How far is it to travel from Jaipur to Jaisalmer? What are the best places to visit in Jaisalmer? Let’s head straight to the details.
Jaisalmer “The golden city”
The land of sand dunes, Jaisalmer is a feast to the eyes. The utter charm of the desert attracts tourists from across the globe. It is also known as Golden city because its yellow sand gives a yellowish golden tinge that attributes the entire town.
The city of Jaisalmer was named after Rao Jaisal Yadav, the sixth in succession from the renowned Bhati Rajput warriors. He founded the fort and city of Jaisalmer in 1156 A.D. It is the largest district of Rajasthan and one of the largest districts of India. Nestled amidst the barren Thar Desert, the kaleidoscopic city looks like a huge pile of rock and sand from the outset, but when you get closer, you will realize what you see on the outside is no match for the beauty and splendour of the city inside.
Places to visit in Jaisalmer
Various artistic structures and monuments of Jaisalmer have conserved the rich historical values of the royal era, which makes it an important tourist destination. There are many historical monuments, forts and temples scattered all around the city. Some of the famous are:
The Thar desert
The Great Indian Thar Desert is the largest desert in India and one of the distinct topographical features of our country. This endless horizon of golden sands encompasses sandy terrain, barren hilly ranges, salty lakes and distinct shapes of sand dunes. When it comes to sand dunes, two prominent names strike the mind – Sam sand dunes and Khuri sand dunes.
Sam Sand Dunes: Sam Sand Dunes nestles 42 km on the outskirts of Jaisalmer. Sam sand dunes are becoming exceptionally popular these days for its ravishing mountain-high sand dunes and an exotic desert safari. This is one of the best camping places in Rajasthan where you can let go of your mind and soul in the bountiful vivaciousness and appeal of the great Thar Desert. Here, you can enjoy camping in tents, stargazing at night, going on desert safaris, lighting a bonfire and enjoying a camel ride.
Khuri sand dunes: Khuri Sand Dunes are gradually picking up popularity because of being less overcrowded, unlike sam sand dunes. You can experience utmost serenity and mesmerizing heights. It is the best alternative to Sam sand dunes to enjoy the splendours of true desert life. Here, you can enjoy camping under the sky, long camel safaris, breathtaking sunsets and even more beautiful sunrises.
Jaisalmer Fort or the Sonar Quila stands about 100 meters on Trikuta hill overlooking the city. Rao Jaisal Yadav, a Bhatti Rajput ruler erected the fort in 1156 AD on the Trikuta Hill amidst the famous Thar Desert. The key enticement of Jaisalmer Fort is its grand size – two hundred and fifty feet tall with a sandstone battlement wall rising to thirty feet. These walls of this fort are of lion colour which turns to honey-gold at the time of sunsets, mesmerizing a traveller. The fort has ninety-nine fortifications and four huge gateways. Apart from this, the palaces and temples within the fort are impressive monuments of the past. There is the Raj Mahal or the Royal Palace, Jain temples, Laxminath temple and Merchant Havelis.
Havelis of Jaisalmer are a tourist’s delight as they enjoy excellent maintenance. The three 19th-century Havelis are remarkable sites enticing visitors with their charm. They are:
Salim Singh ki Haveli: This Haveli is a construction by Salim Singh in 1815. He was the prime minister of Jaisalmer at that time. The arched roofs decorated with peacock-shaped brackets and tusks made of sandstones guarding the haveli draw the attention of anyone to this Haveli. This Haveli is a little unique from the other Havelis when it comes to art and sculpture.
Patwon ki Haveli: This is the largest and most attractive Haveli in Jaisalmer. The two features that make it important are that it was the first Haveli to be ever built in Jaisalmer and it is a cluster of 5 different havelis making it one of the biggest Havelis. This haveli was built by a rich merchant Guman Chand Patwa and his five sons. Haveli is also named the “mansion of brocade merchants” because the Patwa family used to deal in gold and silver.
Nathmalji ki Haveli: This was again a construction by Prime Minister Nath Singh of Jaisalmer. It’s decorated with beautiful ornamentation of birds, elephants, flowers, soldiers, a steam engine and a bicycle. This haveli that once used to be the prime minister’s house is today, still partly inhabited. It has derived its origin from the late 19th century and has an extraordinary exterior, dripping with carvings. The haveli has some stunning masterpieces that are created using 1.5kg of gold leaf.
Gadisar lake is an artificial lake that nestles in the heart of the city, making it an ideal place to escape the bustle of the city. This beautiful lake is the lifeline of Jaisalmer. There are many temples and shrines around the lake. Boat rides and Puppet shows attract tourists towards it. During winters, the beauty of the boat rides entices you as the place gets beautified with several species of migratory birds around the lake.
Longewala War Memorial
Jaisalmer War Museum, also popular as Longewala War Memorial, is an establishment in the military station. It is designed with the view of honouring the war heroes of the Indo-Pak and Sino-India conflicts. Apart from the chronological details and stature of these wars, it also covers the military equipment used in these wars. It is a good place to learn about the momentous subjects dealt by India through war and peace-making strategies.
Kuldhara is an abandoned village about 15 kilometres away from Jaisalmer. Though abandoned now, there are many earages, temples, step-wells and other structures. The ruins of this village narrate inspiring and fascinating tales that describe why villagers left this settlement. As the legend says, the minister of the ruling kingdom was evil and wanted to marry the daughter of a village chief. He forced his wish on the chief, giving him a deadline. Scared, the chief held a meeting of chiefs from 84 nearby villages. It was decided that the entire population of Kuldhara would leave to protect the honour of the chief’s daughter. To date, this tale proves the fact that villagers during those times kept their honour at the top level.
Desert national park
Desert National park is one of the largest national parks, stretching over 3162 km of land. Despite being amidst an arid, dry, and sandy desert, the desert national park presents excellent wildlife such as camels, desert fox, Bengal fox, chinkara, wolves, desert cat, and the Blackbuck. It also houses a multitude of birdlife having a variety of migratory and resident desert birds.
Bada Bagh is primarily a cenotaph lying beside a garden, placed about 6 km north of Jaisalmer, on the way to Ramgarh. These royal cenotaphs are basically chhatris of the Maharajas who once ruled the Jaisalmer state. The gardens are now largely overlooked, but the hill with the cenotaphs is regardless and relatively an interesting sight in the middle of the sand dunes.
The beautiful Jain temples within the Jaisalmer Fort walls have carved edifices that portray images of sages, hermits, animals, etc. These temples have an architecture like Dilwara style construction which is popular all over the world for its architecture. These temples are dedicated to Rishab Dev Ji and Shambhavdev Ji, the prominent Jain hermits known as ‘Tirthankaras’.
That’s not all. There are still Tanot Mata temple, Pokhran Fort, Khaba Fort, Tazia Tower, Indo-Pak border and many other places which are interesting to visit. Each of the places has its significance and unique charm.
How much it is from Jaipur to Jaisalmer?
The distance between Jaipur and Jaisalmer is around 588 km. It is located towards the west of Jaipur. If you drive on your own it takes approximately 9 hours to reach from Jaipur to Jaisalmer.
How can I reach from Jaipur to Jaisalmer?
Jaisalmer city connects well by road and railways snd one can reach here very easily. Travelling to Jaisalmer from Jaipur is a qualm-free affair as there are many means of transport connecting both the cities. Well, there are many direct buses and trains from Jaipur to Jaisalmer. The cheapest way to reach from Jaipur to Jaisalmer is by bus. It takes a minimum of 15h 30m. While the fastest way to reach from Jaipur to Jaisalmer is a flight to Jaisalmer Airport which takes 1h 15m. One can also travel through the luxury travel train, Palace on Wheels as it has a stop in Jaisalmer.
Best time to visit Jaisalmer
The best time to visit Jaisalmer is in the winter season which is between November to March. This is the time when the weather is pleasant and good for sightseeing and other outdoor activities like camel rides and desert safari. During these months the maximum temperature does not go beyond 24 degrees Celsius which is otherwise soaring hot.