We reached Jaisalmer late in the evening when it was almost dark. Tired and exhausted i just had my food and retired to bed. Morning when i got up, i was least expecting anything extraordinary from the place. But the moment we stepped out i came to know why this city is called as the golden city. Everything from the houses, shops, hotels etc were golden in colour or it has probably got to do more with the yellow sandstone that has been used extensively in the construction of these, and the shining golden sun just added to the sight giving this place a honey-golden feel. The one thing that kept following us everywhere we went were the Cows….where ever you see there were cows all around. Maybe its because major part of the population lead a life grazing their flocks and herds.
Jaisalmer is surrounded by Bikaner, Jodhpur and Pakistan border. Jaisalmer was a major route for trade between Indian and Arabian Merchants. But when Mumbai emerged as an important port for sea trade, Jaisalmer’s land routes just faded away. Further the India Pakistan partition led to the closure of the routes completely.
Jaisalmer lies in the Thar Desert and boasts of the only living fort in India, with one fourth of the citys population still living inside the fort. Although its something that is a major attraction for tourists , i personally felt that the fort was not clean and nobody made efforts to keep it clean. With large number of families living inside the fort, temples, shops, restaurants etc inside the fort the amount of garbage and trash that you see makes you disappointed. Especially after visting forts like the Amer Fort and Mehrangarh Fort.
But despite of all this, The Jaisal fort is major tourist attraction especially with the foreign tourists. Its the second largest fort in Rajasthan with a 30 feet high wall and has 9 bastions, 92 of which were built between 1633 and 1647. The jain temples inside the fort just makes you go Wow. The architecture is awe inspiring. We walked and walked and came across such beautiful architectural gems that we couldnt get our eyes off them. The view of the City from the fort was amazing.
Patwon ki Haveli and Salim singh ki Haveli are also major attractions here. Its definitely worth a visit. The Jali work windows or Jharokas that had got me mesmerised at Mehrangarh Jodhpur again managed to get me excited at Patwon ki Haveli. Its also the best place to get some amazing photo-ops.You will be speechless looking at the architecture and your camera wont stop clicking.
Later in the evening we visited BaraBaugh a garden complex that contains a set of royal cenotaphs or chhatris of Maharajas of Jaisalmer. It was so beautiful , and with the setting sun in the background the place looked just out of this world. The hill with the cenotaphs are frequently visited by tourists whereas the garden is highly neglected.
Shopping is another attraction here, with locally made bedsheets with beautiful designs, shawls, carpets, jewellery,amazing handicrafts especially puppets etc. You will also find musicians playing their instruments in every nook and corner of the fort giving it a very soothing feeling.
Being a Desert , Jaisalmer majorly depends on Tourism. Like our guide said , the local people here are so much depended on tourists for their livelihood that even kids know spanish, german and french more than English. And we actually saw a lot of people/ guides talking spanish and german to the foreign tourists.
The one thing that i thoroughly enjoyed in Jaisalmer apart from the food was the Desert safari. I could easily compare it with the Desert Safari that i took in Dubai and surely theres nothing that could even come close to it. But Jaisalmer’s Desert Safari has a charm of its own. A very local, Indian and soothing feeling. I felt i was living a dream. The Camel ride was scary but super entertaining. We had a 10 year old kid taking care of our camel which added to our fear. But soon we realised that he was a Pro. And then seeing the sun set at the Thar desert was the most thrilling experience ever.
Although cleanliness was something that bothered me, but still Jaisalmer had its own way of winning me over. Its definitely a great place to unwind and losing yourself to desolate landscapes and artistic monuments.
A visit to Kuldhara a ghost town, with haunting stories which i dint dare visit this time as i was too scared after hearing all the stories is still pending. Maybe next time when i have gathered all the courage.