India is known for mysticism, a rich history, and a diverse cultural vibe. Steeped in history, the picturesque city of Jaisalmer in the Indian state of Rajasthan is synonymous with an old-world charm that makes you a time traveler. Just 300 km (16 miles) from Jodhpur, it’s tucked in the heart of the Thar Desert. The arid landscape makes the city look postcard-worthy. Miles of sand and blue sky greets travelers. Camels gracefully make their way across the sand dunes. Also known as “The Golden City,” the gold hues come from the use of yellow sandstone. Whether you are here for sightseeing, adventure sports, shopping, or to try local cuisine Jaisalmer brings many opportunities. Check out the top 10 things to do in Jaisalmer in a few days.
Patwon Ki Haveli
Located in the heart of the city, Patwon Ki Haveli undoubtedly makes it a good destination no matter what time of the year you visit Jaisalmer. Like other Haveli’s the traditional townhouse holds historical and architectural significance. Built in the early 19th-century, Patwon Ki Haveli comprises five small Havelis. The place contains artifacts from the region which endorse the conversion to an interesting museum. The intricately carved jharokhas (balconies), the beautiful wall paintings and the arches makes this historic place one of the most-visited spots in Jaisalmer. Patwon Ki Haveli opens seven days a week. Set aside about an hour for your exploration of the intricate architecture.
Jaisalmer Fort, constructed from yellow sandstone looks colossal. Now much bigger than the original built in the 12th century, it also goes by the name of “Golden Fort” or “Sonar Qilla. The gold description alludes to the splendid hues at sunset, making for beautiful photographs Dominating the skyline for miles around Jaisalmer the fort remains a “living fort.” In other words, to this day, people reside inside it. Possibly, given the size and history of the place, a tour might be a good option. The Tour of the Golden Monuments in Jaisalmer includes a stop at the fort. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2013 along with five others, visitors grasp the fascinating history of the place.
This pristine artificial lake bears testimony to the Rajput heritage of Jaisalmer. Entirely man-made the large water reservoir one provided the sole water source to the city. Raja Rawal Jaisal, the first ruler of the place arranged for the construction. Of interest, temples and ghats line the embankment Veryserene, many people enjoy relaxing near the water. Alternately, they take to boats on the water for a different perspective. Around the edges, you may spot people feeding the fish. Many devoted people think this brings them value. Guests to the place also gain virtue by taking part. It costs nothing to visit the lake and enjoy a cool stroll toward sunset.
Also called the Great Indian Desert, the majority of Thar Desert lies in Rajasthan. Located about an hour’s drive from Jaisalmer possibly the best way to experience it is on a tour as it encompasses about 77,000 square miles (200,000 square km) of territory. As the sun sets, enjoy a Camel Safari Tour or a traditional Kalberia dance. As the strains of local music float through the air, enjoy a meal underneath the starry night sky. You can also take a desert safari and watch the sunrise over the Thar, spreading its golden light over the yellow sand as dawn sets in.
Desert National Park
If you are a wildlife lover then a visit to Desert National Park should be on your bucket list of top things to do in Jaisalmer. The National Park, spanning 1,000 sq km provides a home to local animal and bird species such as the chinkara, black buck, desert fox, and more. While open to visitors throughout the year, the best time to visit Jaisalmer and the Desert National Park is between October and March, when the weather is pleasant. The National Park is perfect for family outings and enjoying some time amid nature.
Salim Singh Ki Haveli
This beautiful Haveli is an architectural wonder as the stones in this mansion are connected with iron rods instead of cement and mortar. This early 19th-century building catches everyone’s eye as the roof with 38 small balconies resembles a peacock. The building’s architecture is believed to have been inspired by a dancing peacock. The front of the Salim Singh Ki Haveli looks like a ship’s stern. Actually, this gives it the name Jahazmahal, which literally translated means ship palace. Like other structures in the city, this mansion is also made of yellow sandstone. You can take the Jaisalmer City Sightseeing Tour that will take you to the most prominent mansions of the city.
Tanot Mata Temple
Thie Tanot Mata Temple in Jaisalmer lies close to the India and Pakistan border. Highly revered, locals credit the Tanot Mata Temple for India’s victory in the 1971 Longewala War with Pakistan. Deep inside the Thar Desert, it can take up to two hours to reach the temple from central Jaisalmer. This temple is also a must-visit for many travelers who want to pay their homage to the Indian Army. due to the many shells that feel in the area. However, they never damaged the temple. Visitors should note that the area’s remote and they should carry food and water with them.
Seven temples exist within the Jaisalmer Fort. The intricate design and the beautifully decorated frescoes and mirrors in these temples draw many tourists throughout the year. Importantly, visit these Jain Temples early during the day as they open early in the morning and close at noon. Additionally, the temple complex also has a library that contains some rare manuscripts. If you enjoy architecture, the beautiful walls and designs should satisfy you. In fact, many carvings come with hidden meanings. However, the local Jain followers don’t mind explaining some of them to visitors.
Nathmal Ki Haveli
Havelis are an integral part of Jaisalmer and Nathmal Ki Haveli is another prominent mansion worth a visit to the city. Although not everyone puts them at the list of things to do in Jaisalmer, Nathmal Ki Haveli bears testimony to the rich cultural past. Here, you’ll find a combination of Rajput and Islamic architecture in this Haveli. Don’t miss the two elephants made with sandstone guarding the entrance of Nathmal Ki Haveli. Actually, you may go inside and see one room if a family member guides you. But, expect to purchase something as “donation.” Nevertheless, even the outside makes for some excellent photos.
Located in the heart of Jaisalmer near Badal Palace and Amar Sagar Gate, the Tazia Tower is one of the most-visited landmarks of the city and can be easily reached by auto-rickshaw. This five-story structure was once home to the erstwhile royal family and has beautifully carved balconies on each story. Skillfully, the building was made by Muslim craftsmen and its design based on a Tazia, a replica of a tomb. Tazia Tower comprises five stories and each one presents a different aspect of significance.
Just So You Know:
- Jaipur can be reached in about 11 hours and 30 minutes from Jaisalmer.
- Jaisalmer Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Jaisalmer was a prominent trading city in Medieval times.
- Kuldhara – the abandoned haunted village – is a short drive away from Jaisalmer.
Where to Stay:
- ⭐⭐⭐ Moustache Jaisalmer – This hotel offers a number of room options including a dormitory for six people to suit individual preferences. Convenient, try local cuisine at the on-site restaurant. Jaisalmer Airport is just a short drive away. In fact, many other attractions of Jaisalmer can be easily accessed from here.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Killa Bhawan – This hotel is located near the railway station and Jaisalmer Bus Stop. Located inside the Golden Fort this hotel offers continuous Wi-Fi throughout the property. Currency exchange, tour desk and car rental services are some other facilities available at Killa Bhawan.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ WelcomHeritage Mandir Palace – This hotel with luxurious facilities is located at a short drive away from some important Jaisalmer landmarks like Patwon Ki Haveli, Jaisalmer Fort and Salim Singh Ki Haveli. You’ll find a refrigerator, hairdryer, a kettle and a flat-screen TV in all the rooms.
Get Some Culture:
- Jaisalmer War Memorial – Dedicated to the Indian Army, this museum houses war artifacts including vehicles from 1965 and 1971. In fact, the Laungewala Hall is a must-visit if you want to know more about the Battle of Laungewala, which took place in December 1971.
- Jaisalmer Desert Festival – Traveling to Jaisalmer in February? Don’t miss this annual event where you can capture the culture of Rajasthan. Folk dance, camel races, and turban tying contests provide interesting things to look out for at the Jaisalmer Desert Festival.
Grab A Bite:
- The Trio – This restaurant is one of the best places in Jaisalmer to try authentic Rajasthani cuisine in an upscale environment. The high ceiling and the ornate decoration gives a glimpse of Rajasthan while you are having a meal.
- Rooftop Sunset Bar – Located in Fort Rajwada, Rooftop Sunset Bar is ideal to relax after a busy day out in the city. Enjoy a glass of your favorite drink and soak in the scenic beauty or take your partner for a romantic date.