Rajasthan's Golden City, named so because of its magnificent yellow sandstone structures, is an artistic marvel in the midst of the arid desert. The splendid palaces and havelis with intricate carvings, latticed windows and 'jharokas' or balconies, showcase the artistry of the Rajasthani stonemasons at their best. The ancient fort is still a living one, as a busy township buzzes within its walls. The 'Land of Sands' owes its name to Maharaja Jaisal of the Bhatti Rajput clan who built the city in 1156. Once an important trade centre, strategically located on the caravan trade route to Afghanistan and Central Asia, Jaisalmer saw a golden era from 12th century onwards. The erstwhile rulers grew rich by looting gems, silk and opium from the caravans, but by 16th century, Jaisalmer became relatively peaceful with the rulers and traders competing against each other to showcase their new found wealth. This resulted in the construction of grand palaces and huge havelis.
Jaisalmer is a desert city and instantly invokes number of images in the mind of travellers. The word itself provokes an image of deserted land with camel swiftly moving on the golden sands. The city is almost enticing and for domestic travellers as it is to foreign tourists. Standing in pride with its colossal forts, palaces and havelis, Jaisalmer showcases the artistic sense of the Rajput kings.
Unlike any other city, this desert fortress is one of Rajasthan's most exotic and unusual towns. Jaisalmer, an important ancient trading centre because of its strategic location on the camel trade routes, is often described as the 'golden city'. The havelis, built by merchants of the 19th century, are exquisitely carved from golden-yellow sandstone and are still in a beautiful condition. The fort built by Rawal Jaisal in the 12th century, stands on the 80 metre high Trikuta hill, with beautifully carved Jain temples.
Known as SONAR QUILA, rising from the sand , the mega structure merges with the golden hues of the desert ambience and the setting suns in its most colourful shades gives it a fairy tale look. Its simply a magic, the bastions envelops a whole townships that consist of palace complex various security sources and the havelis of rich merchants carved with an incredibly light touch, several temples and the residential complexes of the armies and traders placed strategically on the trade route, from where the ancient caravans passed en-route passing all the riches for the prosperity to an otherwise non source full kingdom.
This is one of the largest and most elaborate Haveli in Jaisalmer and stands in a narrow lane. It is five storeys high and is extensively carved. It is divided into six apartments, two owned by archaeological Survey of India, two by families who operate craft-shops and two private homes. There are remnants of paintings on some of the inside walls as well as some mirror work.
The most elaborate and magnificient of all the Jaisalmer havelis. It has exquisitely carved pillars and exquisitely carved pillars and extensive corridors and chambers. One of the apartments of this five story high haveli is painted with beautiful murals.
Patwon-Ki-Haveli is the largest and most elaborate haveli in Jaisalmer. This five-storeyed building extensively carved and is notable for its jharokhas (balconies).
In the early 19th century, the family of Ghuman Chand Patwa, an extremely rich patwa (trader of brocades and expensive embroidery) began construction of this mansion, an effort that took half a century.
This tank, south of the city walls, once held the town water supply, and befitting its importance in providing precious water to the inhabitants of this arid city, it is sourrounded by small temples and shrines. The beautiful yellow sandstone gateway arching across the road down to the tank is the Tilon-ki-Pol, and is said to have been built by a famous prostitute, Tilon . When she offered to pay to have this gateway constructed, the Maharaja refused permission under it to go down to the tank and he felt that this would be beneath his dignity. While he was away, she built the gate , adding a Krishna temple on top so that king could not tear it down.
Sam Sand Dunes, 42 away km from Jaisalmer, is the most popular excursion to see the total sandy bush less desert. It has a truly glorious stretch of sweeping sand dunes. It is best to be here at sunrise or sunset, and many camel safaris spend a night at the dunes. The best way to see this and other sights around Jaisalmer is to take a came safari. The standard trip lasts for 4 days and three nights, and offers the opportunity to explore the area in authentic and leisurely fashion, with entertainment by folk performers, visits to villages, and chatter from colourful guides thrown in. However you can also day trip and go by car. Hordes of tourist arrive just before sun set. Camels can be hired easily and you may be able your favourite picture with a lone camel on a desert track and the setting sun in the backdrop. Despite the tourist throng the place has not lost it magic. The desert festival held sometimes in February each year is a big draw and it is full of fun, colour and laughter, cultural events and competitions.
The Desert National Park is an excellent example of the ecosystem of the Thar Desert and its rich fauna. The Sudashri forest post is the most ideal place for observing wildlife in the Desert National Park. Sand dunes form less than 20 percent of the Park, whichconsists of craggy rocks, pavements and compact salt lake bottoms, intermedial areas and fixed dunes.
Its inhabitants include the blackbuck, chinkara, wolf, Indian fox, desert fox, hare and desert cat. Flights of sandfrouse start coming to waterholes from sunrise onwards. One also hear the morning call of the grey partridge. Blue tailed and green bee-eaters, drongos, common and bush quail and Indian rollers are birds, which are commonly found around waterholes. the park is also home to the great Indian Bustard which is peril of extinction.