Magnificent palaces, enormous forts, melodramatic desert – the mix is enthralling. This city conveys flamboyant charisma which is depicted in its culture, food, festivals and its monuments. Yes, it is Jaisalmer, The Golden City of Rajasthan. A city that has magnificently preserved royalty, traditions & culture.
Preserving the absolute essence, traditions and culture of India, Jaisalmer is the perfect place to experience the country’s rich heritage and aristocracy. Standing tall at the rims of yellowish sandstone, and located in the heart of the Thar (The Great Indian Desert). The elite city attracts visitors from all around the world and offers a taste of native India. With the ancient forts, lavish Jain temples, grand museums and not to miss, the Dessert Festival (the main attraction of the year). Jaisalmer is a takes pride in being a World Heritage Site.
Located in Rajasthan, and situated at a distance of 575km from Jaipur, the State Capital, Jaisalmer is a beautiful town that takes you through its well-sculptured forts, traditional architecture, and elaborate temples. It is one such place, which also reflects on the Jain culture- a predominant religion of the city.
The city got its name from its founder Maharawal Jaiswal Singh, a Rajput King who discovered the city, way back in 1156 A.D. The word “Jaisalmer” means “Hill Fort of Jaisal” and due to the yellow sands and sand-stones present in every piece of the city’s architecture, it is more often than not, referred to it as the “Golden City of India”. The yellowish-golden tinge defines the striking beauty of the marvelous buildings and sculptures and surpasses the city’s boundaries to cast its shadows on the surrounding regions.
Jaisalmer is as charming as the beautiful Indian bride. Splendid Jaisalmer Fort is the signature landmark of the Golden City. Jaisalmer, the Golden City of Rajasthan, derives its identity from the marvelous fort and the fascinating havelis built with hue sandstone, luxurious camps, amidst the enchanting sand dunes with the strolling camels is the perfect getaway for the wanderers. From the merchants to craftsmen, from folk singers to the Maharajas of the bygone era and the enthusiastic travelers, Jaisalmer still allures everyone alike. Whether it is summers or winters Jaisalmer has something or the other to offer for its tourists.
Jaisalmer, The Golden City of Rajasthan was an ancient trade route connecting northern India and Central Asia. Therefore, it was home to prosperous merchants and vendors. The magnificent architectural marvels of the city show us a glimpse of their prosperity. You will witness the fusion of Rajputana and Islamic architecture in most of the havelis built for the erstwhile landlords and wazirs.
Stepping your foot into the soil of Jaisalmer, there await legendary attractions like the famous Jaisalmer Fort, a well-preserved legacy of the Jains, some museums, and some neighborhood places of tourist interest. And if you are in the city in the first two months of the year, well, the Desert Festival shall attract your minds and draw your hearts to a never-ending celebration, from where you won’t feel like returning.
Bada Bagh, Gadisar Lake, Patwon-Ki-Haveli and The Thar Heritage Museum are among’st those places which will surprise you with it’s sublime bliss.
Built in 1156 A.D. by another Rajput King, Rawal Jaiswal, the Fort of Jaisalmer stands erect on the Tirkuta Hill and stretches across the sandy areas of the Thar. During earlier days when India was ruled by British, the fort had been home to the refugees. It was also the most convenient way-station for travelers and caravan, who would pass along the Silk Road – a primary trade route that connected the East to the West.
The yellowish sandstone walls of the fort dress in tawny lion shade during the daylight. As evening approaches, the walls get covered in honey-gold. Such magnificent fences have been witness to various battles, fought in the early centuries. The gradual change of wall shades, along with the golden touch gives the title “Sonar Kella” or “Golden Fort”. A famous Bengali detective movie of the same name has been shot within the fort.
The majestic fort has four gates, opening to the Jaisalmer town. It also features the Raj Mahal (Royal Palace), Jain Temples, Laxminath Temple, and Havelis (quarter) for the merchants. Another unusual characteristic of the fort is the innovative system of drainage, which helps to drain away rain water, from the fort, in all the four directions.
Jain & Laxminath Temples
The golden city of Rajasthan is on shot of divine place. With Jain community being more prevalent in the blissful city, you shall come across some of the most beautifully sculpted temples, dedicated to two main Jain Gods – 16th Tirthankara, Shantinath and 23rd Tirthankara, Parshvanath. The seven Jain temples situated inside the fort, during the 12th and 15th centuries showcase the excellent artwork and ancient architecture of the medieval era. All these temples were carved of yellow sandstones, and have beautiful engravings, which throws light on ancient traditions, beliefs, lifestyle, and culture.
Merchant Havelis (Merchant Quarters)
While you move around the lavish fort and relive history, the yellow sandstone carved houses introduce you to the rich and prosperous merchants, who built such marvelous havelis. Many of these havelis have endless floors, and numerous rooms, with elaborate archways, massive doors, large balconies and draped windows. Two of the most eye-catching havelis are the Vyas Haveli and the Shree Nath Palace. Erected in the 15th century, the Vyas Haveli are still inhabited by the descendants of the original builders. The Shree Nath Palace still feature prominent signs of old carved wood, dating back to more than hundred years. In early civilization, the palace was home to the Prime Minister of Jaisalmer.
Today, as you step into the havelis, and look back at older days, you gather footprints of great building plans and constructions. Although most of the merchant quarters have turned into excellent museums, yet you can learn a lot about pre-historic Indian architecture.
Besides the natural monuments and religious temples, Jaisalmer also stages the world-renowned Desert Festival, which captivates visitors across the globe. During the desert carnival, the golden city of Rajasthan, Jaisalmer comes to life, in a beautiful spirit and with a series of events entertains its guests. The biggest desert festival of India is the perfect place to get the flavor of folk culture, with folk dances, puppet theaters, fire dancing, and folk music.
Where on one side, there are musicians, merchants, and farmers, who present indigenous products, tell stories and tales through puppets, and impresses you with regional folk songs, on the other end, the Ship of the Desert takes you for a ride, in its innate land. The event also hosts various sports activities like tug of war, camel polo, and the break the pot race (regionally known as Matka Phor Race).
With its roots in Rajasthan, puppetry- a renowned theatrical performance using inanimate objects, steals maximum attention from the crowd. In the days of Kings and the Royals, puppetry was a common form of entertainment among the elite class. The puppeteers made use of human figures, animal characters, and other subjects and manipulate them, as they engaged the court into interesting storytelling sessions. Puppetry was equally popular among the commoners of Rajasthan. People heard about folk stories and enjoyed the performances, which reflected their culture and daily ways of life.
Jaisalmer – Redefining Vibrancy
If you wish to study the culture of any place then try and read it in its people. People of Jaisalmer clearly depict the culture of the golden city of Rajasthan, Jaisalmer which is portrayed in its vibrant heritage and traditional bequest. The vivacious and energetic lifestyle of the local ethnic people of Jaisalmer is imitated in the numerous socio-cultural and religious celebration of the place which is renowned within ordinate passion and zeal.
Colorful turban, white kurti with dhoti wrapped up, their dress require a special mention. Jaisalmer, which is one of the India’s hottest city and tough terrain to survive, men and women dresses are very colorful. Men’s wears are very simple as compared to heavy embroidered dresses of women which are very colorful. Men’s pride are turbans. Turbans were wear to protect them from the heat but have now become customary. Men and women here are equally fond of ornaments. The ornaments women were are very heavy as compared to any other part of our country.
Speaking of Jaisalmer, how can we miss out on their lip smacking food, they like it hot with lots and lots of flavor. Majority of their flavor are local ingredients with herbs and red chillies. If you happen to visit Jaisalmer then do not forget to try their mirchi bhajiya and onion khachori with flavoured lassi.
How to reach the golden city of Rajasthan – Jaisalmer
With traditional ambiance, colorful attires, and a series of attractions, The Golden City is a complete book of Indian history, culture, and heritage. Each corner of the city has a unique story, and as you pass along the beautiful forts, memorials, and even while enjoying the festival, you read the chapters and learn a lot about the ancient livelihood.