According to the writer and philosopher Chantal Maillard, Jaisalmer is a contradiction: at the same time a large attractive and bustling market and a strong austere wrought in the middle of the desert. To travel to Jaisalmer is to do it to the last city in northwestern India, near the border with Pakistan, at the end of the vast expanse of the Thar desert .
The fort of Jaisalmer , is an impressive sight: a great lion-skinned castle, carved in sandstone, that emerges from the sandy plains like a mirage of a bygone era. This remote sleepy city has become one of the most tourist destinations in all of Rajasthan . It was founded in the 12th century by Prince Jaisal, of the Rajput Bhati clan. For some centuries, the city was a thriving trading center strategically located on the caravan route to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
If you decide to travel to Jaisalmer, you will fall in love with its monuments. The architecture of the Golden City , is an example of adaptation to the wild climate of the desert. The citadel crowns the Tricuta hill with walls 6.4 kilometers long and 9 meters high, and with steep slopes below the 99 bastions. Within the citadel, formed by a labyrinth of tiny lanes, you will find impressive havelis,old merchant palaces and ministers of the city , built in the nineteenth century. The havelis Salim Singh, Nathmajli and Patwon are the most refined exponents of this architecture, with facades of gilded stone exquisitely carved, lattices with different motifs and beautiful murals.
At the heart of the citadel rises a group of seven interconnected Jain temples , built between 1470 and 1536 by the wealthy merchants of the city. They are beautifully carved and consecrated to the Jain tirthankaras as Rishabdeo or Parsvanatha.
The palace of Maharawal is another of the great attractions of the fort and has Rajput flavor, with its rich masonry of the facades and its decorative rooms. It is a good place to watch the sunset.
Lake Gadsisar is another of the important points of the city, once Jaisalmer’s only water supply. It is worth going around the lake to see its ghats and temples.
Another must-see is the colorful Manik Chowk bazaar , located at the entrance to the fort, where you can make camel hair blankets, embroidered fabrics and silver jewelry.
You can not leave Jaisalmer without stepping into the desert, making an excursion to the Sam Sand Dunes , 45 km from the city. Its undulating dunes are lost on the horizon. The ideal is to go on a camel and spend the night there, to feel the true magic of the sands of the desert.
Coinciding with the full moon from January to February, the exotic Desert Festival is celebrated . For three days, camel races, dances, puppet shows, as well as parades with traditional costumes, ornate elephants and music bands are organized. People come from all over the region, and at the end of the celebrations there is a trip to Sam Sand Dunes, where the landscape of the desert and the moon mix with the glow of the bonfires.