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Jaisalmer

Travel Guide Asia India Rajasthan Jaisalmer

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Introduction

Jain temple in Jaisalmer

Jain temple in Jaisalmer

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District of Jaisalmer (Hindi: जैसलमेर), located in the Indian part of the Thar Desert, is the largest district of Rajasthan and one of the largest in the country. It is a border city located close to the international border of Pakistan and is located 575 kilometres west from the state capital Jaipur.

The strategic importance of the city can also be gauged by the fact that India keeps her nukes in Pokhran, a small town not far from Jaisalmer. The area is rocky and barren, with its famous sand dunes and the vast expanse of Indus Valley, which was once a very fertile area on which the famous Indus Valley Civilization thrived some 4,000-5,000 years ago. The region receives scanty rainfall and the ground water level is very low.

Jaisalmer is often described as the “Golden City”. The traditional ‘Havelis’ built by the wealthy merchants are carved in golden yellow sandstone and they still retain their lusture and brilliance. The imposing fort of Jaisalmer, built in 12th century, stands atop a hill from where you can get a bird’s eye view of the surrounding region. Life in desert is tough but the people of this region are noted for their warmth and hospitality. Jaisalmer is the base for the numerous camel safari options that are available to explore the desert region.

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History

The city of Jaisalmer was founded by a Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal in 1156. The city due to its strategic location on the trade route linking India to Middle East and Africa became prosperous and the rulers of this area became even richer by imposing taxes on the caravans passing through the city. The remote location of Jaisalmer kept it untouched by outside influences and also helped it maintain its traditional culture. During the Mughal Emperor’s rule in Delhi, there were alternate periods of peace and war with the Rajputs, though the relations with Rajputs were mostly cordial. Another traditional practice worth mentioning here is the act of “Jauhar” in which women of the fort performed the act of mass self-immolation when the fall of the fort was imminent. They preferred to die rather than be disgraced and humiliated by the victors. The monuments of Jaisalmer have withstood the test of time, scorching heat and the chiseling winds of the desert and the fort walls still reverberate with the sounds of valour and agony of women performing the act of Jauhar.

During the Islamic invasion of India, Jaisalmer escaped direct Muslim conquest due to its geographical situation in the desert region. The Rawals of Jaisalmer agreed to pay an annual tribute to the Delhi Sultans. The first siege of Jaisalmer occurred during the reign of Alauddin Khilji. It was provoked by Bhatis' raid on a caravan filled with treasure. According to local ballads, the Bhatis defended the fort for seven years until the enemy army forces breached the ramparts. Bhatis, facing certain defeat, proclaimed the rite of jauhar. Later, Sultan Ferozshah also sieged Jaisalmer after the rulers of Jaisalmer raided his camp at Anasagar lake near Ajmer. The siege led to another jauhar. Jaitsimha's son Duda perished in the attack. Duda's descendants ruled over Jaisalmer for about two centuries. Duda's descendant Lunakarna had a fight with Humayun when the latter passed through Jaisalmer en route to Ajmer. Mughal emperor Akbar was married to one of the Jaisalmer princesses.

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Sights and Activities

Rajasthan Tourism Corporation has a tourist reception centre in Jaisalmer to provide information and assistance to the tourists visiting this region.

Within the City

Strolling across the streets of this beautiful city is an experience in itself which can be cherished for a lifetime. Some of the major attractions in the city are:

  • Fort complex and the Jain temples
  • Patwa Haveli
  • Nathmal’s Haveli
  • Gadisagar Lake
  • Salim Singh’s Haveli
  • Tazia Tower
  • Museum and the folk museum

Sights and Activities Outside of Jaisalmer

The common feature amongst all these monuments is the unique carving on yellow sandstone. Apart from these, the following excursions can be taken from the city:

  • Mool Sagar
  • Ludarwa
  • Badabagh (royal garden)
  • Amarsagar
  • Kuldhara (Medieval remains of the old desert town)
  • Sam Sand dunes is a great place to view the sunset on a camel
  • Khuri Sand Dunes is a small village around 45 kilometres from Jaisalmer, where one can have a feel of the traditional lifestyle of villagers in a desert. Regular bus service is available from Jaisalmer.
  • Desert National Park
  • Wood Fossil Park
  • Pokhran

Desert Life

The desert life is tough which makes the people hardy and capable of facing extreme conditions. Inspite of the hard conditions prevailing in these regions, people are quite warm, happy and satisfied. Majority of population of Jaisalmer lives in the villages. The villagers dwell in the traditions huts which are made of grass and are known as ‘Jhopri’. The grass roof provides the natural air-conditioning and keeps the hut cool in summer and warm in winter. The villages generally have a well or pond nearby to cater to the requirement of water for day-to-day activities. The primary occupation of the people in villages is animal rearing and farming. Now, with the hordes of tourists visiting this area, additional income is generated from tourism activities. The main crops cultivated in this area are ‘Bajara’ and ‘Gawar’, which are coarse cereals and can survive low rainfall conditions.

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Events and Festivals

Jaisalmer district due to its isolated location has preserved much of its traditions, particularly the folk music and the cultural dance which is unique to this region and attracts hordes of tourists, both domestic and international. The folk music of the area has evolved over a period of time and has also been influenced by the bordering Sindh region of Pakistan.
The desert region comes alive in winter when the Desert festival is organized by the Tourism authorities to entertain the tourists gathered in this region. The Rajasthani folk culture is on display during this period. Rajasthani men with their thick and long moustache dressed in bright traditional costume and beautiful women in their colourful costume perform the traditional dance, singing and dancing to the folk music. Apart from the music and dance, one can marvel at the skills of the snake charmers, acrobats and puppeteers. Camel races are also being organized and the tourists are also encouraged to participate in the cultural activities.

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Weather

Jaisalmer has a very dry climate with very hot summers, a cold winter and very little rain. The best time to visit the city is from November to February when the sand dunes cool down and the town comes alive due to the various cultural activities organised by the district tourism authorities. Temperatures are generally still well above 20 °C during the day but nights can be chilly, between 5 and 10 °C. Much better than summers (April-September) when temperatures frequently hit 45 °C (or more!) and nights are just as warm as winter days.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max23.7 °C27.2 °C32.8 °C38.4 °C41.7 °C40.9 °C37.7 °C36 °C36.5 °C36.1 °C31.1 °C25.4 °C
Avg Min7.9 °C10.9 °C16.8 °C22.2 °C25.7 °C27.1 °C26.5 °C25.4 °C24.3 °C20.5 °C13.8 °C8.9 °C
Rainfall1.3 mm4 mm3.2 mm18.1 mm9.2 mm16.1 mm56.1 mm79 mm16.2 mm2.5 mm1.3 mm2.5 mm
Rain Days0.610.90.40.81.13.93.92.10.41.10.5

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Getting There

By Plane

The airport at Jaisalmer (international code: JSA) is located around 9 kilometres from the city centre. This airport is currently being exclusively used by the Indian Air Force, though with increasing tourism interest in this region, regular commercial flights may start in the near future. The nearest airport which is connected to the major cities of India is in Jodhpur, which is around 290 kilometres away. Regular buses and pre-paid taxis ply between Jodhpur and Jaisalmer.

By Train

Direct train services are available from Delhi to Jaisalmer. Regarding train connections to rest of India, first take a train to Jodhpur, which is well connected to rest of the major cities of India. Indian Railways operates the rail network in India.

By Car

The roads in this area are quite well maintained due to proximity to the International border with Pakistan. Taxis can be hired from Jodhpur or for excursions from Jodhpur.

By Bus

Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation, a government agency has an extensive network of buses connceting the various cities of Rajasthan. Private and luxury bus services are also available for certain sectors.

By Boat

There is no boat service available as the city is located in a desert surrounded by golden sand dunes.

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Getting Around

Jaisalmer is quite spread out and the settlements are dispersed hence is not advisable to do the excursions on foot. Taxis can be hired for excursions to the nearby villages to have a feel of the traditional desert lifestyle

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Sleep

Rajasthan tourism Development Corporation has numerous guesthouses and hotels across Rajasthan, which are available to tourists at affordable rates. These hotels/guesthouses are clean, reliable and have the necessary amenities to suit the travelers.

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Desert Haveli Guest HouseNear Jain Temples Chogan Para. inside fort JaisalmerGuesthouse82
Desert Moon GuesthouseOpp. Vyas Chattree, Sunset Point Achalvansi ColonyGUESTHOUSE-
Hotel FifuOpposite Nagarpalika Bera RoadHOTEL-
Hotel Golden CityNear 1st Fort GateHotel80
Hotel Golden HaveliBera Road JaisalmerHotel-
Hotel Imperial (Jaisalmer)1, C.V. Singh Colony ,Opp. District collectrate Near Hanuman CircleHotel-
Hotel JeetmahalAsani Road near Salam Singh HaveliHotel92
Hotel RenukaNorth of Gandhi Chowk Chainpura StreetHotel95
Hotel Shreenath PalaceOn fort near jain templeHotel95
Hotel SurajOn Fort next to Jain templesHotel92
Hotel Suraj VilasOld City, Next To Jain Temples, opposite Hotel SurajHOTEL-
Hotel VictoriaOn Fort, Kund ParaHotel-
Mansarovar Guest HouseOpposite Nachna Haveli, Gandhi ChowkGuesthouse-
Mirvana Nature Resort near JaisalmerR.G.FARMS, SODAKORE, JAISALMER, RAJASTHANHotel-
Rawla Camp RetreatRawla Camp RetreatCampsite-
Shahi PalaceShiv road JaisalmerHotel89
Jaisalmer Tours And TravelsOn Fort Next To Jai Temple Opposite Hotel SurajHostel-
Desert Anna SafariPeacock Chain Pura Gandhi ChowkHOTEL71
Hotel Ratan PalaceNorth of Gandhi Chowk Chainpura StreetHOTEL86
The Desert Haveli Resort & Camp190 Hanwant 'B' B.J.S ColonyCampsite-
Hotel Pleasant HaveliChain Pura Street Gandhi ChowkHotel-
Hotel MoonlightOpp. Head Post Office Hanuman CircleHotel-
Hotel Surja Guest HouseOn fort Kotari Para, Jaisalmer Rajasthan, IndiaHotel89
Hotel Pol HaveliNear Hanuman circle Dedansar roadHotel-
Mahadev PalaceH-3 RIICO Jethwai Road Jaisalmer RajasthanHotel-
Hotel SaroverJaisalmer's fort in Kund Para near Laxminath TempleHotel-
Hotel Roop MahalBehind Shiv Road Silawata Para Near Fort 1st GateHotel84
Mystic JaisalmerNear Air force circle, Dhibba Para, Old CityHOSTEL90
Hotel Deep MahalInside Fort, Vyasa Para,Hotel-
Hotel Rose VIllaKalakar ColonyHotel-
Hotel .V. Vilas (Peacock Guesthouse)Chainpura Street near Gandhi ChowkGuesthouse-
La MysticaNear Gadisar Gate, Near Henna, Fort Road, Old City, Dhibba Para,Guesthouse81
Vansh VillaAmar Sagar Pol, Near Mandir Palace, Hanuman Circle.Hotel-
Gajanand Guest HouseMain Pura Street Gandhi Chowk JaisalmerGuesthouse92
Hotel Sanjay VillasAchal Vansi Colony Near Sunset PointHOTEL-
Hotel HaveliNear Fort, Main Market Opp State Bank of IndiaHOTEL84
hotel siddhivinayakgeeta ashram circle nr bal bharti school jaisalmerHotel-
Bright Haveliold city nere laxminath tempel on fortHotel-
Hotel Garh JaisalOn Fort Kotari Para jaisalmerHOTEL-
Mud Mirror Guest HouseNear Jain Temple, On Fort JiasalmerGUESTHOUSE-
HOTEL JEETVILAcvs coleny near hanuman circul jaisalmerHotel-
Registhan Guest HouseVillage Dhoba, Post KhuriGUESTHOUSE-
Camp e KhasSam Sand Dunes, Before Sam ParkingCAMPSITE-
Jeet VillasCVS Colony, JaisalmerHOTEL-
Hotel Tokyo PalaceNear Fort, Airforce Chouraha, Dhibba ParaHOTEL84
Sagar Guest House GardenCityInside Fort near Jain TempleGUESTHOUSE-
Hotel Swagatam1,new colony, Near Bhatia Bagechi Hanuman CircleHOTEL-
Desert Boys Guest HouseOn Fort Vyasa ParaGUESTHOUSE-
Gorakh HaveliNear Fort First Gate, DhibbaparaHOTEL-
Nirmal HaveliNear Pushkarna Bera Opp. NagarpalikaHOTEL-
Hotel BRYS FortHotel Complex, Plot–7, Jodhpur Jaisalmer Road, JaisalmerHotel-
Hotel GaneshMain Pura Street Gandhi ChowkHOTEL-
Abu Safari HotelFort Parking RoadHOSTEL-
Ganesh Guest HouseOn Fort Behind Jain Temple Vyas ParaGUESTHOUSE-
Mystic JaisalmerNear Airforce Circle Dhibba Para Old CityHostel-
Dylan Cafe and Guest HouseTalariya Para Behind Nachna Haveli Gandhi ChowkGUESTHOUSE-
Winds Desert CampVillage: Kanoi Near Sam Sand DunesHOSTEL-
Damodra Desert CampRajasthan Thar DesertCampsite-
Royal Desert Safari Resort and CampSankariyaHOTEL-
Hotel Marina MahalK.L. Anchalvansy ColonyHOTEL-
Nomads Guest HouseShiv Road Near Golden FortGUESTHOUSE-
Hotel Saraswati PalacePatwa Haveli RoadHotel-

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Keep Connected

Internet

There's good coverage over most of India for Internet cafes. However, following the recent terror attacks in Mumbai and some other cities, all internet cafes have been instructed by the authorities to maintain a register and note down the identification details of all persons using internet. Sify iWay is a reliable and cheap cafe with over 1,600 cafes over India. iWay also allows you to open a pre-paid account that you can use all over India. Whenever you have Internet access probably the best and cheapest way to call family and friends at home is software that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet such as Skype.

Wifi hotspots in India are, for most part, limited. The major airports and stations do offer paid wifi at around RS.60-100 an hour. Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai are the only cities with decent wifi coverage. At Mumbai airport, you get to use WiFi internet free, for an hour or so.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country code for India is 91. To dial outside the country from India, prefix the country code with 00.

The general emergency number is 100 (emergency response police & fire), while for ambulance you should dial 102 or 112, though some regions have 108 for this emergency. 108 is used in in the Indian states of Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Goa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha,Assam, Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. 108 can be called for medical, crime, fire, or any other emergency from any phone.

Local phone numbers can be anywhere from 5-8 digits long. But when the area code is included, all landline phone numbers in India are 10 digits long. Cellphone numbers usually start with '9', '8', or '7'. Toll-free numbers start with 1-800.

If staying longterm it is probably wise to think about investing in a mobile phone. You'll possibly need to provide a photocopy of your passport and itinerary, so come prepared. Make sure you arrange it upon arrival in a big city, as it can sometimes be difficult to organise with language barriers and such in more regional areas. You can buy a cheap nokia for about RS.1,200 with a pre-paid plan. Airtel is a good carrier to think about as they have great coverage, and constant offers for cheaper calling. To recharge, most shop vendors with phone carrier signs can do it via their own phone. You give them your mobile number, they put it in their phone and you'll both get messages as to whether or not the recharge has been successful. Also, if possible, buy the phone in the state where you do the most travelling as the charges are higher in the states where you did not originally buy the phone.

Over the entire country there are plenty of public phones, even in the middle of the countryside. Although most of the time these phones are not very well maintained and have horrible connections. Therefore remember when using one of these public phones one must be extremely patient.
For international calls from payphones, you'll have to visit a reputable internet cafe with a phone-booth. Mobile phones are usually a better and cheaper option.

Post

India Post is the national postal service of India, and on their website you find details about prices to send postcards, letters and parcels, both domestically and internationally. For most postcards to send internationally, it is better to visit the post office before writing on the card as you may need quite a few stamps. Parcels must be taken to a tailor, he will then sew it up in white linen. Make sure he seals it with red wax, otherwise the post office may refuse to send it or try to get you to pay them to do it. Sewing up a parcel should only cost RS.50 to 200. In general, post offices are open from 10:00am to 1:00pm and 1:30pm to 4:30pm in most bigger towns and cities, though there are regional variations and some might keep longer hours or be open during (part of) the weekend as well. Ask around.

If you want to send bigger packages/parcels, it might be better, faster and sometimes even cheaper, to contact a private company like DHL, TNT or UPS.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 26.911779
  • Longitude: 70.912727

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This is version 29. Last edited at 6:18 on Jun 12, 14 by KellieBarnes. 6 articles link to this page.

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