Travel Guide Asia India Rajasthan Jaisalmer



Jain temple in Jaisalmer

Jain temple in Jaisalmer

© monkyhands

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 lustre 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.




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.



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.



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.

  • Holi is quite popular in the Indian sub-continent and is traditionally celebrated on the day after the full moon in the month of Phalguna (early March), according to Hindu callendar. Holi is a thanksgiving festival, where people offer prayer to God for good harvest and fertility of the land. However it has a legend attached to it according to which an arrogant king resents his son Prahlada from worshipping Lord Vishnu. He attempts to kill his son but fails each time, finally he asks his sister Holika, who is said to be immune to burning, sits with Prahlada in fire. However Prahlada emerges alive and Holika is burnt to death. Holi commemorates this event from the Hindu mythology, and huge bonfires are burnt on the eve of Holi as its symbolic representation. This festival is also associated with the immortal love story of Krishna and Radha, and hence celebrations are spread over a period of 2 weeks in Vrindavan and Mathura - the two cities associated with Krishna. Holi is a festival of freedom from social norms and caste inhibitions are shed for a day as people indulge in fun and merry-making. Colors and 'gulal' are showered on the people dressed up for the occasion and the whole community seems to merge into one big family under the guise of colors, without any distinction whatsoever. Children with face smeared with colors run around with 'pichkaris' (big syringes to splash colored water) and play amongst themselves. People exchange good wishes, sweets and gifts. Holi is also marked by vibrant processions which are accompanied by folk songs, dances and drum beating. Parties are also organized where snacks and the traditional milk-based drink “Thandai” is served which is often intoxicated with “Bhang”. Of late, lots of foreigners have started taking interest in this festival and they even enjoy the colors and the intoxicating drink. It is advised to cover your hair with a cap and eyes with sunglasses to avoid the colors splashing the eyes and damaging the hair.
  • Republic Day - Republic Day is a national holiday in India every January 26 to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution in 1950 and the declaration of independence in 1930. The capital of New Delhi is the focus of the celebrations, including a flag raising ceremony, wreath laying, 21-gun salute, Presidential speech, and presentation of awards for selflessness and bravery. A massive military parade includes elephants ridden by children who have received national accolades.
  • Gandhi Jayanti - Gandhi Jayanti is a national public holiday commemorating the birth of the peaceful activist, Mohandas Gandhi on October 2, 1869. The celebration coincides with the United Nations’ International Day of Non-Violence. In India, Gandhi is remembered through statues, flower and candle offerings, prayers and singing the devotional hymn Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram. The Indian government issues special mint rupees and postage stamps bearing his picture.
  • Ganesh Chaturthi - The ten-day September festival of Ganesh Chaturthi celebrates the birthday of the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesh with culture, concerts and feasts. The biggest events take place in Maharashtra where people worship an idol for ten days before taking it to the river or sea and drowning it.
  • Navarathri, Dussehra Festival - This theatrical Hindu festival takes place over ten days in October. The first nine feature dancing to honor the Mother Goddess. The tenth day commemorates Lord Rama’s defeat of demon king Ravana and goddess Durga’s triumph over Mahishasura, the buffalo demon. The event is called Durga Puja in east India where the faithful create huge statues to immerse in the Ganges River.
  • Diwali - Diwali is the five-day festival of lights held in India in late October or early November each year. The widely celebrated Hindu event marks Lord Rama’s victory over the demon Ravan. Homes and streets are decorated with lights, candles and small clay lamps, and new clothes are worn and sweets are exchanged.




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.

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.



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.



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




Lots of local eateries which offer sumptuous lunches and dinners for a measly ₹20.

Anchal Sweet Shop, In main market. Fresh kachori & samosa.
Artist Hotel Restaurant Near the sunset view point - in the middle of the Jaisalmer artist colony. The very best food in town (₹50). Everything is made fresh. You will get Western (also nice Austrian food) food as well as very nice Indian dishes. The restaurant is placed on rooftop and you can enjoy your meal while listening to Rajasthani music performed live.
Free Tibet Restaurant (Near two of the main lookouts from the fort). This place has a great view out over the fort walls. The food is a mix of Tibetan, Indian and Continental. Cheaper than other 'lookout' restaurants nearby. Family run. ₹30-120.
German Bakery, Gopa Chowk (Near fort gate). Good lemon cake. Decent croissants. Almond cookies. Delicious tea. Great place to have a "western-style" breakfast.
Lakeview Lounge Restaurant, On Fort, Kotri Para (On the fort and attached to Hotel Surja), ☏ +91 2992-254138. 24 Hours. This restaurant serves some of the best food I've had while traveling. The Porridge w/ Banana Honey (₹40), Mushroom Cheese Tomato Burger (₹65) and the 'Speghatti Spinesh Tomato Cheese' (₹70) are highly recommended but almost everything we ate was delicious and reasonably priced for the area. The service is excellent as well because of the speed and courtesy of their staff. The restaurant has some of the best views in all of Jaisalmer, at the second level of the restaurant. They also have free WiFi at the restaurant and the attached Hotel Surja. Mains ₹40-90.
Little Italy, Fort gate. Real pizza, with actually good mozzarella cheese. Very decent pasta as well. Amazing view on the Fort from the terrace, fun low tables-and-cushions concept inside.
Midtown restaurant (Main Gopa Chowk), ☏ +91 94 1405 2144. 7AM-11PM. This restaurant is in front of the Golden fort. The view is amazing and the food is fine with friendly service. The homemade Dutch apple pie is delicious. Pullavs are great.
Seema Restaurant, Just outside the fort. The unique thing about this restaurants is that everything is made fresh; however, it is bit dingy. Really good and cheap food (₹50).
The Seven Spice Restaurant, Gandhi Chowk (Maansarowar Guest House), ☏ +91 9571634057. 7AM-11PM. The seven spice restaurant give you a real taste of Indian spice with Indian cuisine or Tibetan food. located at heart of the city with nice market view. Best sunset location. ₹100-350.
Trio, Hanuman Chowk. Nice food. Reasonable prices.




Drink delectable bhang (marijuana) lassi at the government authorized shop close to the entrance of the fort. The original bhang shop, open since 1977, is now known as the Lassi Shop. The bhang from the new government shop is weaker and has been known to cause stomach ailments in travelers. It is best to purchase from the Lassi Shop, featured in Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. The Lassi Shop is west of the entrance to the Fort while the newly authorized government shop is east of the entrance to the fort.

Packs of bhang-infused cookies and chocolates are also available for takeaway, and can be savored on trips into the desert to great effect. A word of caution: It can take a while before you get high from bhang, hence you should not take multiple drinks in quick succession. Excessive consumption of bhang dehydrates the body and one can experience effects like high sweating, anxiety, palpitation and hallucinations. These effects vary from person to person and depend on the amount of bhang consumed. To overcome the adverse effects of high bhang consumption, drink plenty of water with glucose (not for diabetic patients) and have food along with bhang (try not to take bhang on an empty stomach). Not more than a glass should be consumed by first timers unless you want to spend next day holding your bed trying not to fall.




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.

Desert Haveli Guest House, In the national museum/monument fort of Jaisalmer (Near to Jain temples), ☏ +91 2992251555, ✉ [email protected]. 24 hr. This heritage hotel is in the national monument/museum Jaisalmer fort at high altitude on the rampart, in a closed ended street. It offers the unique experience of staying in an ancient historical fort. This building was once alloted as a place of residence to a noble person who held the position of Divisional Magistrate. It was converted into a guest house with permission from the archeological survey department. ₹2000.
Garh Jaisal, on fort. It overlooks the entrance to the fort. It has an amazing rooftop deck overlooking the city. Each room is decorated in jewel-like colours. edit
Hotel Fort View (come out of the main entrance to the fort, turn left until you get to a tree (20 m), then it's through a tiny passage way next to Fort View Travel agency, just behind the tree and public square). Check-in: Until 11PM unless you call ahead, check-out: Until 11PM unless you call ahead. The guy who works here 'Ali' is great! Good view from the roof. ₹300 for a fan double.
Hotel Jaisalmer Palace, Near Fort , gadi sagar gate ,dhiba bara, ☏ +91 9462750383, ✉ [email protected]. Check-in: noon, check-out: 11AM. Traditional- Heritage style hotel, 16 AC Super Deluxe rooms, hot & cold water, 24-hr service, safari booking facility, and restaurant with full fort view. From its terrace you can also see a sunrise or sunset while enjoying a cocktail. Rooftop restaurant.
Hotel Moonlight, Opp. Head Post Office, Hanuman Circle, ☏ +91 2992-250267. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. Traditional-style hotel, rooftop restaurant.
Hotel Priya, C.V.S. Colony (Behind public hospital), ☏ +91 2992 252755, +91 2992 250577. Check-in: 24 hours, check-out: noon. In the heart of town. Built in a traditional Rajasthani style, well decorated, offering different types of rooms and surrounded by a warm staff. Facilities like air conditioner, full Wi-Fi connectivity, TV, and restaurant are available. They also provide two camps in Sam Dunes and Khuri Dunes for their customers.
Hotel Rajmandir, Fort, Jaisalmer 345001, ☏ +91 2992 253311. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon.
Hotel Shree Govindam, Near Hanuman Circle (Geeta Ashram Road), ☏ +91 9414150528. Check-in: After 11AM, check-out: 9AM. 10 AC double rooms, hot & cold water, 24-hr service, safari booking facility, and restaurant with full fort view. From its terrace you can also see a sunrise or sunset while enjoying a cocktail. 1000 C.P.
Hotel Surja Guest House (Hotel Surja), On Fort, Kotri Para (Free Taxi from Bus/Train Station), ☏ +91 2992-254138, ✉ [email protected]. Check-in: 24 hours, check-out: 10AM. It's on the fort with one of the best views in town. They have rooms varying from ₹300 to ₹800, depending on the room and view. They have a free taxi pickup if you contact them in advance by phone or email with your scheduled arrival time. They have free Wi-Fi for the hotel as well as their attached Lakeview Lounge Restaurant (see restaurant section). ₹300-800.
Moonlight Khuri Resort, 40 km from Jaisalmer at Khuri village, surrounded by natural sand dunes. Accommodation in mud cottages, huts and tents with campfire, dinner, music, folk dance & camel rides.
Shanti Residency, S-5, Transport Nagar, ☏ +91 9414149138. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. It's at a very approachable area on the State High Way No.11. consists of 24 well equipped and well furnished rooms. The facilities include a multi-cuisine restaurant and a banquet hall with capacity of 70-90. ₹1250.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)




Keep Connected


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.


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.


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.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: 26.911779
  • Longitude: 70.912727

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This is version 35. Last edited at 12:29 on May 19, 20 by Utrecht. 6 articles link to this page.

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