Jaisalmer, the Golden City is an oasis in a desert; located in the westernmost part of India very close to the Pakistan border. It is hot, dry, arid, barren desert city with males wearing turbans and women wearing colorful ghagras; the image that we Indians associate with Rajasthan until we actually see Rajasthan of-course. I found Jaisalmer lively, historical, picturesque and unique; unlike any other place in India.
Jaisalmer is a very popular destination among the Indian tourists and the western hippies alike. On the outskirts of Jaisalmer you will find these amazing Sand Dunes, a landscape not that abundant around the world. However, there are many other things in Jaisalmer that could leave you in fascination. Lets get into the details. Shall we?
Best Time to Visit Jaisalmer
- November to March is the best time to visit Jaisalmer. It is the winter season in the North India and the weather in Jaisalmer is pleasant. Temperature ranges between 5 degree Celsius to 35 degree Celsius. However, the last week of March may see temperatures as high as 39 degrees. This is the peak tourist season in Jaisalmer. We visited in November and the weather was amazing, it was mildly cold at night though.
- September & October: You can visit in these two months as well. Just avoid getting out on afternoons when the mercury soars as high as 38 degree Celsius. Temperature ranges between 20 degrees to 38 degrees during this time.
- April to August: Jaisalmer is unbearably hot in this period. Temperature ranges from 27 degree Celsius to 48 degree Celsius.
How Many Days are Enough for Jaisalmer?
The classic question that first strikes the mind when we start to plan a destination. But the answer depends on ‘how you like to travel’.
- For a slow traveler: 6-7 Days should be enough.
- For a tourist: 3-Days enough to cover all places and get a little feel of the city.
- If you are a tourist tight on time: 2-Days at the least, you’ll have to rush from one place to another but you will have a good time.
How to Reach Jaisalmer?
Jaisalmer is well connected via rail, road and air to other parts of India. here are all your options with details:
- By Flight: Jaisalmer has a domestic airport that operates as a civil enclave on the Indian Air Force Base. So, there are direct flights available from Delhi, Mumbai and other Indian cities. You may also reach Jodhpur by air and then reach Jaisalmer which will take about 5 hrs by road or rail.
- By Train: Taking an overnight train is one of the most convenient ways to reach Jaisalmer. Overnight trains are available from Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur and various other cities. Another option is to reach Jodhpur by train and then take a bus or a taxi. We reached Jodhpur by an overnight train, explored Jodhpur and the next day we took a taxi to Jaisalmer.
- By Bus: You can always reach Jodhpur and then, take a public bus to Jaisalmer. Also, Buses to Jaisalmer and Jodhpur operate from Delhi, Ahmedabad and most major cities in Rajasthan. If you want to know if there is any direct bus available from your city to Jodhpur or Jaisalmer, you may search on redbus or just google it.
Things to do in Jaisalmer
- Explore the Jaisalmer Fort. This is the most popular thing to do in Jaisalmer. Well, this is not just any fort, this one is unique. For the starters, it is the only living fort in India with one fourth of the Jaisalmer’s population residing within the fort. And so, naturally the fort does not have any opening or closing time, nor there is any entry fees. The entire fort is made from Yellow Sandstone giving a golden look to the fort. Additionally, it is not just the fort that looks golden, the entire city of Jaisalmer is panted yellow and that is why it is known as the ‘Golden City’. The views of the city from up the fort are breathtaking. Especially, the views from the Royal palace were the best, but you will have to buy a ticket to click the pictures; Rs.50/- for clicking photos, Rs.100/- for filming videos. Do hire a guide, the facts, stories and traditions that our guide told us, brought the structures to life in my imagination, otherwise it is just dead walls and pillars that you see. English speaking guides are also easily available.
- Visit the Jain Temple located inside the fort only. This temple has insanely intricate carvings on its walls and pillars and other structures. You could just get lost in their beauty if you look at them profoundly. The entry to the temple is free but there are charges to click the pictures. We paid Rs.50/- for the smartphone and Rs.100/- for the DSLR.
- Hop off to different Havelis of the rich ministers and merchants from older times. The popular ones lie inside the fort only. Patwon ki Haveli, Salim Singh ki Haveli and Nathmal ki Haveli are the popular ones. We visited only Patwon ki Haveli, the carvings on the structure were really marvelous.
- Go for Camping, Jeep Safari and Camel Safari at the Sam Sand Dunes. All these activities including evening snacks, dinner and morning breakfast are generally sold as a package. We paid Rs.2000/- or US $28 per person for the luxury tents along with all activities at Desert Safari Camp Jaisalmer. The tents were new, bathroom was huge, food was amazing and service was decent. There is okayish cultural performance and bonfire in the night.
- Visit the Air Force Museum: It is the first thing you will see as you are about to enter Jaisalmer from the Jodhpur-Jaisalmer road. It is great place to learn a little about our armed forces and appreciate their sacrifices and contributions.
- Visit Bada Bagh, located at 15 minutes drive from the city centre towards Sam Sand Dunes. This place consists cenotaphs constructed in memory of important people from the royal family of Bhatti dynasty. It is quite isolated and serene.
- Watch Sunrise from the Gadi Sagar Lake. It is man made lake with prominent entrance gate, temples and chatris built on its banks.
- Visit the ruins of Kulhadra. Legend is that Paliwal bhramins left the place overnight cursing the village. Some say it was because of the high taxes, others say they left to protect the daughter of village chief who was wanted by a minister Salim Singh.
- Visit Tanot Mata Temple, located 153 kms away from Jaisalmer on the India-Pakistan border. This temple also has some fascinating stories and is a place of pilgrimage for the locals. I didn’t get a chance to visit it on this trip.
Where to Stay in Jaisalmer?
- Hostels: Romany Hostels Jaisalmer, Toffu Safari and Fotiya Hotel are great hostels.
- Hotels: Hotel Royal Haveli, Hotel Rawalkot Jaisalmer and Hotel Marina Mahal are amazing.
- Desert Camp: Desert Safari Camp
How to Get Around Jaisalmer?
The best way to get around Jaisalmer is to hire a bike. You move at your own convenience, its cheap and thrilling. You can hire auto-rickshaws/ tuk-tuks or taxis. Public buses are also available.
What & Where to Eat in Jaisalmer?
I love the Rajasthani food, it is delicious. However, foreigners could find it very spicy; so,wherever you eat let them know to keep the spices low while ordering.
You must try:
- Daal Baati Choorma,an Indian Rajasthani dish you will get at most Indian Restaurants in Jaisamer.
- Bhang (Marijuana) Lassi at the Lassi Shop on the west of entrance gate of the Jaisalmer fort. Don’t overdo it or you will be high for the next two days
Some Good Places to Eat: The Desert Pride, Artist Hotel Restaurant, Free Tibet Restaurant
Jaisalmer is cheap by all standards.
- A 3-day trip on a budget can be done in Rs.5,000 or less.
- A 3-day luxury trip would cost Rs.10,000 or less.
- Jaisalmer can be very hot and sunny. Wear light and loose clothes and use sunscreen.
- Jaisalmer is quite safe but don’t venture out alone in the dark.
- Do not try to venture out anywhere close to the border.
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