JaisalmerJaisalmer is the westernmost part of the state and is situated in the heart of the Thar Desert. Jaisalmer town and its landmark fort were founded by Maharawal Jaisal in 1156 AD. The fort is a living monument to long-lost desert might, a Golden City of dreams that surpasses expectations of the most travel-sick tourists. The golden rays of the setting sun draw a heavenly picture on the sands of Jaisalmer. The magnificent wood and stone-carved mansions and buildings display the love of the Rajputs towards the fine arts. The desert festival held between January and February is the besttimeto visit Jaisalmer.
How to get there Jaisalmer has a good network of roads and is well connected to the other cities of Rajasthan as well as other major cities.
Jaisalmer is well connected by rail with Jodhpur, Jaipur, Agra, New Delhi and Mumbai. The nearest airport is at Jodhpur airport (285 km). The airport at Jaisalmer is managed by the Indian Air Force and is operational only from Septemberto March.
■ Places of interest The Fort: Built over the Trikuta hill, Jaisalmer fort is the biggest and the most beautiful landmark of the city. The fort that looks like a giant sandcastle from a distance houses a palace, temples, and hundreds of deceptively simple mansions. The former Maharaja’s seven storey palace has intricately carved balconies, luxurious rooms and offers an amazing 360-degree view ofthe surrounding desert. Outside the fort walls the rest of the town which includes three mansions are open to the public.
Salim Singh’s Haveli: Built about 300 years ago, this haveli was commissioned by Salim Singh, the then Prime Minister of the kingdom with Jaisalmer as its capital. The haveli (mansion) has a distinct architecture with arched roofs and brackets in the form of a peacock. Two large tuskers made of sand stone guard the haveli’s entrance. The haveli consists of as many as 38 balconies and all of them are distinctly designed. The front facade of the haveli resembles a ship stern and hence this haveli is sometimes referred to as Jahazmahal.
Nathmal’s Haveli: This late 19th century haveli was built for Diwan Mohata Nathmal, the then Prime Minister of Jaisalmer. Even today, the haveli is partly inhabited. Two Muslim brothers Hathi and Lulu, designed and worked on each sides of the haveli. Although, they worked as per the same plan, the haveli turned out to be very dissimilar to each other. But it remains unsurpassed in Jaisalmer in terms ofthe quality of work. The entrance to Nathmal’s haveli is also guarded by stone elephants and the entire faqade is embellished with a slew of paintings detailing horses, elephants, soldiers, flowers and birds. There are also carvings of trains and bicycles,
gadgets of the then new age which the artisans themselves had never seen but carved out of hearsay.
Tazia Tower: Situated near Amar Sagar Gate, the Tazia Tower is one of the major tourist attractions in Jaisalmer. The Tazia tower is a 5-storeyed structure with intricately carved balconies that once accommodated the royal family. The most important palaces in this complex are Badal Vilas, Jawahar Vilas, Dari Khana and Zenana Mahal. Delicate pagoda like the Tazia Tower rises from Badal Mahal. Gadi Sagar: This large tank, south of the city walls, was once the source of water for the entire city. There are many small temples and shrines around it. The tank receives flocks of migratory birds during winter. The eyecatching Tilon-ki-pol that straddles the road down to the tank is said have been built by a prostitute, against the wishes of the maharaja.