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JAISLMER :The name Jaisalmer evokes utter magic and vibrancy of the desert. It's straight out of an Arabian Nights fable. The hostile terrain notwithstanding the warmth and colour of people is simply overwhelming. One of the main draws is the daunting 12th century Jaisalmer Fort. The beautiful havelis which were built by wealthy merchants of Jaisalmer are yet another interesting aspect of the desert city. And you can let your eyes caress the sloping sand dunes while you ramble your way in a camel safari.
The desert citadel is truly a golden fantasy in the Thar Desert . Bhati Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal, after whom the city finds its name, founded Jaisalmer in 1156 AD.

On advice of a local hermit Eesaal he chose the Tricut Hills as his new abode, abandoning his vulnerable old fort at Luderwa just 16 kilometers northwest. In Medieval times, its prosperity was due to its location on the main trade route linking India to Egypt and  Arabia . The Bhati Rajput rulers lined their coffers with gains from traditional taxes levied on passing by caravans. They also amassed wealth through questionable means.

Over the years the remote location of Jaisalmer kept it almost untouched by outside influences. In the 14th century AD. Ala-ud-din Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi besieged the fort for nine years in an effort to take back the treasure looted by the Bhatti Rajputs from his imperial caravan train. When the fall of the fort was imminent the women of the fort committed Jauhar, an act of mass self-immolation, while men donned saffron robes and rode to their certain death. Duda son of Jaitasimha, a Bhati hero also perished in the battle. Duda's descendants continued to rule Jaisalmer. In 1541 AD they even fought Mughal Emperor Humayun, though their relations with the Mughals were not always hostile. Sabal Simha won the patronage of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his distinctions in battlefield, in Peshawar and thus earned the right to rule Jaisalmer. In the days of the British rule,  Jaisalmer was the last to sign the Instrument of Agreement with the British Government. 

Ages have gone by and the monuments of Jaisalmer have withstood the buffeting winds of the desert all through. Jaisalmer is a paragon of beautiful culture and harsh climatic conditions; these together leave a lasting impression on the visitors. The old city was completely encircled by a wall but much of it has crumbled sadly for want of building material in recent years. The massive golden fort, which is the essence of Jaisalmer, is entered through First Gate; is a burrow of narrow streets with Jain Temples and old palaces. The main market, the Sadar Bazar is right below the hill. The bank, offices and several shops are also located near the Amar Sagar Gate to the west.


The Jaisalmer fort, known as Sonar Quila or the Golden fort, rises from the sand and merges with the golden hues of the desert ambience. The setting sun in its most colourful shades gives it a fairy tale appearance. It is simply magical as the bastions envelop a whole township that consists of the palace complex, the intricately carved havelis of rich merchants, several temples and the residential complexes of the armies
and traders placed strategically on the trade route. It was from this trade route that the ancient caravans passed, distributing the riches for the prosperity to an otherwise non resourceful kingdom. These merchants served and acquired a great deal of power and noble status in the royal courts of Bhatti Rajputs who founded the state in the 12th century AD and proceeded further. However, the rich merchants inspired by the classic style of the royals, constructed huge mansions (havelis) adjacent to each other in the nature of medieval culture and profusely decorated the walls and ceilings and intricately carved the outdoors and interiors. The colourful art forms had some how relegated the royal heritage to a position of secondary importance. The craftsmen were usually Muslims who were induced on their journey to exhibit their skills in art forms. The result was an architectural purity that cannot be seen elsewhere.

Two architect brothers built it in the 19th century. Interestingly, while one concentrated on the right, the other concentrated on the left and the result is a symphony epitomizing the side-by-side symmetry during construction. Paintings in miniature style monopolize the walls in the interior. Mighty tuskers carved out of yellow sandstone stand guard to the haveli. It is a private property.
This haveli is actually worth seeing from outside only. It was built in the first half of the 18th century and a part of it is still occupied. Salim Singh was the prime minister of Jaisalmer a princely state in 19th century AD. The mansion has a beautifully arched roof with superb carved brackets in the form of peacocks. It is just below the hill near the fort. It is said that once it had two additional wooden storeys in an attempt to make it as
high as the Maharaja's palace, but the Maharaja had the upper storey demolished.

A group of apartments, this is one of the largest and most elaborate of Havelis in Jaisalmer and stands in a narrow lane. It is five storeys high and is extensively carved. A part of this beautiful building is owned by the Department of Archaeology and Museum. There are remnants of some paintings on the walls inside as well as some mirror work. This has been the star attraction of Jaisalmer.
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. Muslim craftsmen built it in the shape of a Tazia (A float taken in procession Muharram) as symbol of their religion in the town for royal patrons. Half portion of this palace is converted into a heritage hotel named Mandir Palace and
another portion of the palace as Badal Villas, the residence of the ex-ruler's family.

The Desert National Park is an excellent example of the eco-system 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 per cent of the park, which consists of craggy rocks, pavements and compact salt lake bottoms, inter-medial areas and fixed dunes. 
Its inhabitants include the blackbuck, chinkara, wolf, Indian fox, desert fox, hare and desert cat. Flights of sand-grouse start coming to waterhole's from sunrise onwards. One can also hear the morning call of the gray partridge. Blue tailed and green bee-eaters, common and bush quail and Indian rollers are birds, which are commonly found around waterhole's. The park is also home to the great Indian bustard the state bird of Rajasthan. To visit the Desert National Park enclosure at
Sudhasari, prior permission is required from the Desert National park office and office of the District Magistrate, Jaisalmer.

This is a rain water conservation lake built by Maharawal Gadsi in 14th century. It was once the main source of drinking water for the entire town of Jaisalmer . Now a tourist spot, there are many small temples and shrines around it. A wide variety of water birds can be seen here especially in winter. This is the most popular point to take photographs of Jaisalmer fort early in the morning when the fort looks golden with the
first rays of the Sun.   The beautiful gateway known as Tillon ki prol, which arches across the road down to the lake was built by a royal courtesan named Tillon at the end of 19th century. An idol of Lord Vishnu was installed in the year 1908 AD on the gate by a courtesan and declared Krishna Temple to save it from demolition by the then Maharawal.
Government Museum :
Established by the Department of Archeology and Museum. It is another prime attraction for the visitors to Jaisalmer. The trophy of the state bird Godawan - the great Indian bustard, is the most eye catching spot. Traditional house-hold items, rock-cut crockery and jewellery recreate the atmosphere of a by-gone era. A look at the statues of 7th-9th century AD creates a scenario of rich cultural heritage of the time.

Some 45 kms towards the west of the Jaisalmer city are located the barren yet beautiful shifting sand dunes adjoining the village Sam. Here one can have a ride on camel the ship of desert in the desert sea. Beautiful folk dancers enrich the visitor's experience with traditional flavor of joy. Sam Dhani, a typical accommodation in the shape of fortress provides the
visitors with warm welcome, board and lodging. Herds of camel and cows are attractions on the way to Sam. There is regular bus service that runs from Jaisalmer to Sam village.
Khuri is a village 45 km south west of Jaisalmer. It is a delightfully peaceful place with mud and straw decorated houses. One kilometer away from the village, patches of sand dunes are additional attractions for the tourists. There is regular bus service that runs from Jaisalmer to Khuri village. Villagers in their rural world can be seen on the way to Khuri.

It is located at the junction of Jodhpur , Jaisalmer and Bikaner Road . It is en route to Jaisalmer and is also a fort town though the fort is not of the same dimensions as those of Jaisalmer or Jodhpur . Pokran came into limelight in the wake of  India 's first underground nuclear explosion. Pokran is also renowned for its furniture and crafts for interior decoration. The fort is located about one and a half kilometers from the bus stand and
has an assortment of weaponry, brocade clothes and various games of dice and dominoes on display. Fort Pokran also offers accommodation with a rugged heritage appeal.
Barmer is a desert town just 153 kms from Jaisalmer and has a fortress to boast off. This place is primarily famous for its woodcarving, furniture, items of interior decoration, carpets, block printing and embroidered items. The centre for embroidery is the Sadar Bazaar and woodcarvings are found along the Station Road . It has a RTDC Hotel and for private hotels too.
Just 35 kms from Barmer is a group of five temples in Solanki architectural style at village Kiradu. These temples feature some exquisite sculpture. The Someshwara Temple with a multi-tier spire is the most impressive. Since it is located in restricted area, visitors of foreign nationality must obtain prior permission from the District Collector, Barmer at Phone No: 02982-220003.

Bada Bag :  
Situated six kms north of Jaisalmer on way to Ramgarh. Royal cenotaphs with carved images of late Maharawals and their families are seen. Each chhatri preserves an inscribed tablet recording the death of Maharawals on which the memorials are raised. The chhatris have been built in a set pattern but in different sizes. The beautiful spot, Jait bundh (Dam) named after Maharawal Jait Singh was constructed in 1513 AD. Attached to the bundh (Dam), is a fruit garden.

Baisakhi :
It is only 16 kms from Jaisalmer, a religious palace for Hindus, attracting a number of devotees on full moon day of Baisakh every year for a holy dip. A temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, originally of early Pratihar period seems to have been restored in the 16th Century AD.

Ram-Kunda :
A temple, 11 kms off the Ramgarh local route. The shrine is dedicated to God Rama and Krishna and was constructed during the reign of Maharawal Amar Singh in 17th Century.

Luderwa :
16 kms. Northwest from Jaisalmer, Luderwa is the old capital of Jaisalmer. Now a silent city, the only witness to its former splendour are the Jain temple, toran (ornate arch) and artificial divine tree (Kalptaru). Ruins of the deserted capital and the remains of an apartment of Princess Moomal still recall the famous love legend of Moomal-Mahendra.

Amar-Sagar :
Just 6 kms. on the way to Luderwa is a natural spot developed by Maharawal Amar Singh in the form of a water reservoir in 1688 AD. The dams were constructed to hold rainwater. Several terraces are formed where summer palaces, temples and gardens were developed. On the south of the lake stands the exquisitely carved Jain temple constructed by Himmat Ram Bafna, the descendant of famous Patwas.

Kuldhara & Khabha :
(Medieval Deserted village of Paliwal Community)
A total number of 84 villages were abandoned by Paliwal Brahmins overnight, out of which the two most prominent villages are Kuldhara and Khabha located about 18 and 30 kms respectively south west of Jaisalmer on  the same road. The ruins of Kuldhara and Khabha exhibit the architectural excellence of those times and are an attraction for peace-lovers, photographers and movie makers.
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