Nothing else in
India is remotely similar to Jaisalmer. Its desert fort, which
resembles a gigantic sandcastle, is straight out of ' The
housand and One Nights '. There are many havelis which can be
found elsewhere in Rajasthan, but nowhere are they quite as
exquisite as in Jaisalmer. Even the humblest shops and houses
display something of the Rajput love of the decorative arts.
There is a down side to Jaisalmer becoming one of Rajasthan's
most popular tourist destinations.
Jaisalmer is a great place to simply wander. The old
city was once completely surrounded by an extensive wall, much of which
has sadly been ripped away in recent times for building material. Some
of it remains, however, including the city gates and, inside them, the
massive fort which rises above the city and is the essence of Jaisalmer.
The main market area is directly below the hill, while the banks, the
new palace and several other shops and offices are near the Amar Sagar
Gate to the west.
A scenic rain water lake with numerous beautiful shrines around. The
lake is an idyllic spot for outings.
The delicate pagoda like Tazia Tower rises from Badal Mahal (Cloud
Palace). Rising in its five tiered splendour, with each storey graced by
a delicately carved balcony, the tower is of historical significance.
THE JAISALMER FORT
Jaisalmer Fort is the most alive of any museum, fort or palace that you
are likely to visit in India. It was built in 1156 by the Rajput ruler
Jaisala. About a quarter of the old city's population resides within the
fort walls. The fort is entered through a forbidding series of massive
gates leading to a large courtyard.
The impressive mansions built by the wealthy merchants of Jaisalmer are
known as havelis, and several of these fine sandstone buildings are
still in good condition.
Within the fort walls are a group of beautifully carved Jain temples
built between the 12th and 15th centuries. They are dedicated to
Rikhabdev and Sambhavanth. Gyan Bhandar or Library : Some of the oldest
manuscripts of India are found in this library established as a part of
This late 19th century haveli was also a prime minister's house. This
haveli was carved by two brothers, one working on the right side and the
other on the left. Yellow sandstone elephants guard the building, and
even the front door is a work of art.
PATWON KI HAVELI
It is one of the largest and most elaborate houses in Jaisalmer. It is
five storeys high, extinsively carved. It is divided into six
apartments, two owned by the Archaeological Survey of India, Two by
families who operate craftshops here, and two private homes.
SALIM SINGH KI HAVELI
This haveli was built about 300 years ago and part of it is still
occupied. Salim Singh was the prime minister when Jaisalmer was the
capital of a princely state, and his mansion has a beautifully arched
roof with superb carved brackets in the form of peacocks. The mansion is
just below the hill and it is said, once had two additional wooden
storeys in an attempt to make it as high as the Maharaja's palace, but
the maharaja had the upper storeys torn down.