Jaisalmer Fort is one of the world’s largest fully preserved fort which is still a living fort. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with all the other hill forts of Rajasthan, like Chittorgarh Fort. Due its yellow color which glows like gold in the morning and evening, it’s also known as the Golden Fort or Sonar Qila.
Built in 1156 AD by Rawal Jaisal, the fort derives its name from two words – Jaisal and Meru. Jaisal came from the king himself and Meru is the name of an unassailable mythical mountain of the Gods in the Himalayas. Before the British came, Jaisalmer was a part of the Silk Route and an important stop-point for the travelers and merchants.
Jaisalmer is well connected by rail as well as roadways. The nearest airport is at Jodhpur which is about 5 hours drive away. I was also told that Jaisalmer airport is almost ready and flights are expected to start soon. I took a flight to Jodhpur & then reached Jaisalmer by car.
Stay at Jaisalmer:
If you are a budget traveler, I would recommend you to stay within the fort itself. It’s quite a unique experience to stay within a loving fort and the prices are actually cheaper there. However, if you are visiting during the peak season (winters), do book in advance as places get full fast. There are so many huge palace-turned-resorts there in Jaisalmer, you can stay there too. I stayed in Club Mahindra resort, Jaisalmer.
Top things to do in Jaisalmer Fort or Sanar Quila:
Well, to answer these questions, here’s a guide on the best things to do in Jaisalmer Fort.
The fort has numerous temples, and most of them are predictably Hindu temples. However, the most beautiful temples here are the Jain Temples, especially the Parshwanath temple. Do make a visit to one of these to enjoy the intricate carvings on the stone. Additionally, also visit a cafe close by with a terrace overlooking these temples. The view from top is even more beautiful.
Vistas from all corners of the fort:
You can walk almost the entire periphery of the fort and it’s quite an interesting experience. At any point of time you can always walk into the town through one of the connecting roads, while rest of the time you can just walk all around and enjoy the view of the town outside the fort. Suggest you to take guide as he/she will explain the history of the fort which is really interesting.
Partially built over the hawa pol (air gate), the Palace is conveniently located right at the entrance to the fort and is also a living museum. The fort has many sections and you can actually spend quite some time exploring it. Most of it also indoor, and gives you respite from the heat outside. The two key areas are Raja-ka-Mahal and Rani-ka-Mahal. I would also strongly recommend taking the audio-guide – it’s free of cost but you need to deposit Rs 2000 as guarantee.
Now this is something that only tourists do, and yes it’s tempting to shop within the fort complex. Jaisalmer is well known for camel leather goods, and you can buy some really innovative products made with it. However, since all this shopping is exclusively for tourists, the prices are inflated and require a fair bit of bargaining.
Sound of Ravanahatha:
Ravanahatha is an ancient bowed, stringed instrument with a rustic sound, which makes it even more ideal for the deserts. I don’t quite know why, but then you will find many inside the fort playing the instrument and you can sit with them and listen for as long as you like. Just be nice and leave some tip too.
Listen to Ravanahatha here in my Jaisalmer vlog:
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Enjoy Coffee With Heritage & History:
As you reach the top of the quila, there is a cafe where you can sit and enjoy your coffee and listen to the history of the fort & Jaisalmer. Apart from this cafe, there are many little cafes, restaurants and tapris inside the fort. Try exploring that don’t forget to try Chokha Bati. It’s yummy!
If you love photography, this place is perfect for you. And now when I have mentioned photography, let me share some of the best shots from my visit. Enjoy!