Jaisalmer, known as the Golden City, is a city in the Indian state of Rajasthan, which borders Pakistan. Its name is due to the fact that it is located on a yellowish sandy rock that gives the city golden tones, especially at certain times of the day.
A strategic point
The city, located in the Thar desert, was founded in 1156 by Rawal Jaisal, the name from which the toponym Jaisalmer derived, which literally means ‘fort on the hill of Jaisal’. Its location, in a strategic enclave on the commercial route that linked the Far East with the Middle East, Africa and Europe, gave the city an important role.
Its significance can be seen reflected in the magnificence of the fort that crowns the city and in the many havelis or traditional palaces that are still preserved. If you are interested in delving into the Golden City, then we are going to talk about the wonders that can be admired in Jaisalmer. Join us!
What to visit in Jaisalmer?
1. The Jaisalmer fort
It is the main tourist attraction of the city. It is, next to the fortified center of Carcassonne, in France, one of the few ‘living forts’ that exist in the world, since almost a quarter of the population of the old city still resides inside. The city grew and prospered within the fort and it was not until the 17th century that the first settlements outside the enclosure were established.
The fort was built on Trikuta Hill, today in the south of the city. The dominant position offered by the almost 80 meters in height with respect to the rest of the city and the surrounding area means that the fortification towers can be seen from a great distance.
The fortification is really great. It is approximately 460 meters long by 230 wide. The defensive system consisted of three rings that surrounded the enclosure. The exterior is about five meters high. On the other hand, the bastions or towers form a defensive perimeter on the inner wall about four kilometers long.
The 99 towers that guarded the fort were mostly built or rebuilt in the 17th century. Access to the enclosure was through four fortified gates.
This huge building, by itself, has enormous historical value and fascinating beauty. But, if we complement it with the more than 400 houses, groups of temples and palace complexes that are inside, they make the visit of the Golden City an unimaginable experience.
2. Patawa Haveli
This palace is one of the most beautiful buildings in the walled city and it exemplifies the typical architectural style of the Rajputana region. It is five stories high and a multitude of intricately carved pillars support the extensive corridors and chambers that the building contains.
3. Nathmal Ki Haveli
Prime Minister Nathmalji, in the 19th century, ordered this haveli to be carved. It was carved by two brothers and it is said that one on each side of the building began the work. Despite this, the result was perfect symmetry.
The exterior ornamentation is exquisite, with life-size carved elephants and interior chambers decorated with miniature paintings. This palace is, without a doubt, an essential visit.
4. Salim Singh Ki Haveli
This haveli was built by Salim Singh, a powerful prime minister of Jaisalmer, more than 200 years ago. It is a five-story building that, due to its peculiar shape, dominates the skyline of the walled city.
The palace rises modestly from the ground to culminate in a fabulous projecting balcony with arched peacock ceilings.
5. Jain temples
The city not only stands out for the imposing palaces that were built there. There is also a set of seven temples of the Jain doctrine in it. Like the rest of the buildings in the city, they were built with the yellowish sand of the desert.
The temples can be visited and in them you can admire innumerable white marble sculptures and precious drawings that adorn their walls and ceilings. To enter the temples you must do it barefoot and entry with bags, water bottles or leather objects is not allowed.
6. Other tourist attractions in Jaisalmer
As we noted earlier, the city of Jaisalmer is located in a desert. Tourist agencies have taken advantage of this situation and many offer the possibility of taking a camel ride through the dunes, having dinner in a camp and even spending a night in tents or in the open. A unique experience to admire an incredible starry sky.
If you are thinking of visiting India, do not hesitate to organize a getaway to the Golden City. It is a journey back in time where you can imagine the times of the caravanning species trade with camels and experience what many intrepid European travelers felt on their trips to the region.