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Jaisalmer takes its name from the words Jaisal and Meru, which mean Jaisal's Fort.  The fort here ranks among the major ones in Rajasthan and was built around 1156 A.D. Lying on the caravan route bring in spices, silks and dry fruits from as far as Egypt, Persia, Arabia and Central Asia, it was a key-pillar to the region's prosperity.  The wealthy Marwari merchants here built elaborate havelis or mansions.

 

In 1294 A.D. Alauddin Khilji of Delhi attached Jaisalmer, laying siege to the fort, which is said to have lasted for eight years.  Hundreds of women leapt into flames to commit 'Jauhar' rather than to fall into the hands of the enemy.  Jaisalmer was raided again the 16th century by Sultan Feroz Shah of Delhi and several times by the Mughals.  It was during Rawal Sahal Singh's reign (1651-61) that hostilities ceased and Jaisalmer recognised the sovereignty of Delhi.... Paving the way for a new era of plenty, highlighted by architectural magnificence as seen in the grand palaces and havelis built at that time.

 

The 'Desert Citadel' Jaisalmer City, few places can match the grandeur and magnificence of this golden fantasy of the Thar.  The name Jaisalmer evokes a vivid picture of sheer magic and brilliance of the desert.

 

Over the year the remote location of Jaisalmer kept it almost untouched by outside influences and even during the days of the Raj, Jaisalmer was the last to sign the Instrument of Agreement with the British.

 

Jaisalmer is a marvel of beautiful culture and harsh climatic conditions, together amounting to a memorable experience.

 

JAISALMER FORT

The Golden Fort or 'Sonar Killa', built of golden yellow sandstone and standing proud to a height of a hundred metres with its 99 bastions, of the Jurassic period on the Trikuta Hill (the triple peaked hill), it grows out of a rock in a undulating sea of sand.  The imposing fort is awe-inspiring protected by rugged high walls, approachable through four successive gates, the Akhuiy Pol, Ganesh Pol, Suraj Pol and Hava Pol.  The palaces of the rulers built atop the main entrance, form an imposing edifice crowned by a huge umbrella of metal mounted on a stone shaft. 

 

Within the bastions of the citadel are a string of magnificent old Jain Temples, richly carved and decorated, dating back to the 12th-15th centuries, the carvings are inspired from Indian mythology.  The main temples are, Chintamani Parswanathji Temple - the most important among the fort Jain temples, the Sri Sambhavnathji temple, Sri Sheetainath temple, Sri Shantinath and many more.

 

Gyan Bhandar or Library was established as part of the Jain temples, they house some rare and old manuscripts.

 


 

HAVELIS

Jaisalmer is world renowned for its magnificently carved latticed havelis with conspicuous facades.  The important ones are: -

 

Nathmalji-ki-haveli

Was carved by Lalu and Hathi, two brothers for the Prime Minister of the state, Nathmalji, in the 19th Century.  The most interesting fact is that the brothers worked separately one on the right side and the other on the left side; the result is an absolute symphony epitomizing the side-by-side symmetry during construction.  The haveli is richly carved and the inner chambers are decorated with miniature paintings

 

Patwan-ki-haveli

Is one of the most exquisite buildings in the walled city, which truly exemplifies the architectural style typical of erstwhile Rajputana.  It is five storeys high and the extensive corridors and chambers are supported my intricately carved pillars.

 

Salim Singh-ki-haveli

Is a magnificent five-storied structure, due to its form, dominates the skyline of the walled city.  Salim Singh, a powerful chief minister of Maharawal Gaj Singh, built it some 200 years ago.  The haveli begins with a narrow dimension below, with an elaborate projecting balcony on the top storey; it is distinguished by the blue cupola roof.

 


Mandir Palace and Tazia Tower

Is the excellent palace complex located near Amar Sagar Gate, are the homes of the former royal family.  The Tazia Tower rises from the palace and is the landmark of the town with its five-tiered splendor each storey graced by a delicately carved balcony, the tower is of historical significant.  Muslim craftsmen built it in the shape of a Tazia and gifted it to their royal patron.  Tazias are ornately decorated bamboo, paper and tinsel replicas of a bier carried in procession during Mohurram.

 

GADASAR LAKE

This rainwater lake, was once the major supplier of potable water in the city, today it is a big attraction for the picnickers in the desert city.  Sacred shrines and well-laid gardens flank the lake.  A varied collection of beautiful birds can be observed.  The attractive gateway, which arches across the road down to the lake is said to have been built by a famous prostitute.  When she offered to pay to have this gateway constructed, the maharaja refused permission on the grounds that he would have to pass under it to go down to the lake, and he felt that this would be beneath his dignity.  While he was away, she built the gate anyway, adding a Krishna temple on the top so the king could not tear it down.

 

WOOD FOSSIL PARK, AAKAL (17 KMS)

This park is a palaeontologist’s delight.  Fossils dating back to 180 million years lie in the rocky terrain and testify to the geological cataclysms of the region.


VILLAGES AND TEMPLES AROUND JAISALMER

 

BADABAG (6 KMS)

Is a fertile oasis with a huge old dam.  Built by Maharaja Jai Singh II and completed after his death by his son.  Above the garden are royal chhatris with beautifully carved ceilings and equestrian statues of former rulers.

 

RAMKUNDA

Is a very beautiful temple of the Ram, which is the goat god of Hindu religion.  Maharaja Jaisal Singh built a swimming pool for use by his royal guests.

 

LUDHARWA (16 KMS)

Is north west of Jaisalmer and is an important center of Jain pilgrimage It was Lodharwa Fort that Rawal Jaisal abandoned and shifted to his new capital.  Ruins of the ancient township can still be seen here.  The main temple enshrines an image of Parasnath, the 23rd tirthanker, and is finely wrought in silver and surrounded by fine sculptures.  The temple has its own resident cobra, which is said to be 1.5 meters long and over 400 years old.  It lives in a hole on the north side of the temple and it is said to be very auspicious to see the cobra.

 


KULDARA

Around 400 years ago all the villagers left after a dispute with the prime minister. However, according to legend, they could not carry all their gold and silver so they buried it.  A few years ago some westerners were caught hunting for the gold, which they did not find.

 

MOOL SAGAR

 

Is another pleasant formal garden owned by the royal family of Jaisalmer and was originally built as a summer retreat.  In the lemon grove there is a small Shiva temple carved from 2 pieces of sandstone.

 

AMAR SAGAR (5 KMS)

 

Is a pleasant formal garden.  According to locals, prostitutes built the stepwells here.  Nearby is a finely carved Jain Temple, which is being restored by craftsmen brought in from Agra.

 


DESERT NATIONAL PARK AND SAND DUNES (42 KMS)