Some of the most prominent movie makers like Wes Anderson, John Madden and Christopher Nolen absolutely love Rajasthan. With its barren fields, magnificent architecture and colorful people, Rajasthan’s exotic landscapes make the perfect backdrop for some famous movie scenes.
If you live in India and have not visited the jewel of the state – the Golden City of Jaisalmer; then we hope this post inspires you to visit soon. Here are 10 reasons why you should definitely visit Jaisalmer.
Why Visit Jaisalmer, the Golden City of Rajasthan:
1) Star in Your Own Arabian Nights Fantasy
The enchanting architecture of Jaisalmer will transport you back in time and the mystery in the air will give you a sense of being a part of “Arabian Nights” with tales of desert, camels, harems and everything exotic.
Jaisalmer fort is as big as the city that is next to it – which appears to be a part of this castle itself, because of matching sandstone architecture. Ever played the old school video game – Aladdin? Become a part of it by visiting this place.
2) Enjoy the Colors of Jaisalmer, the Golden City from Sunrise to Sunset
Every house, hotel and shop in the city feels like an extension of the fort – all yellow. Maybe this is where Coldplay’s Chris Martin was touring when he wrote the song “Yellow” (Haha). When get to experience how the honey colored city turns Golden in the sun, you will truly understand why it’s has been labeled as “The Golden City”.
There are many amazing viewpoints inside and outside the forts to watch the sunset – at least five are within the fort for a great view out across the city and desert.
3) Stay in a fort or a Haveli like a Royalty
The massive Jaisalmer fort is a functional fort – there are rooms in it where you can actually stay. There are several Havelis in Jaisalmer that you can visit or even stay in one. Even outside the forts there are multiple Havelis (Royal Houses) with massive rooms where you can stay.
I stayed in a place called Killa Bhawan inside the fort which literally felt like a movie set. The view from the rooms and all the sitting areas inside this boutique hotel is a reason big enough for me to choose the same place the next time I visit Jaisalmer. The cheapest room is around $70 per night and can go up to $200 depending on the choice is definitely worth the price because of all the “Maharaja like” luxury that’s offered.
4) Visit the Massive Sand Dunes
My visit to the nearby Khuri Sand Dunes in the Thar Desert was perhaps the most memorable thing that I did in Jaisalmer. The sand was unbelievably soft (way softer than any beach that I’ve ever seen), the sky was remarkably clear and we could only see a barren landscape for God knows how manny miles!
Do yourself a favor reach the dunes before the sunset and watch how everything dramatically changes. Stroll around the dunes at night to make the most of it. For the daring ones – stay here overnight.
Tip: I’m not a fan of tour operators but for this, you will need one. Ask your hotel to arrange this visit and look for an all-inclusive visit that covers food, camel ride, and back and forth transport from the dunes to the hotel.
5) Experience a Clear Starry Night
The night sky here will leave you spellbound. Even if you’re not a “star gazing” kind of a person, you will become one when you’re on the dunes.
Thar Desert, especially the patch near Jaiselmar is very dry with hardly any precipitation. Clouds are a rare sight here. The dunes are far away from city lights. These factors result in an extremely clear night sky that looks surreal. You have to be there to believe it.
If you’d like to give Astrophotography a shot, this place is where you would love to be.
Image courtesy – Zaroof Power.
6) Shop and Find Unique Handmade Crafts
I’m not into shopping but this city charmed me with its colorful shops parading the quintessential boho chic clothing in the form of its long flowy cotton skirts, mirror work boleros and camel leather messenger bags and shoes.
Remember the rule of the thumb while shopping in Asia – HAGGLE for the best bargain! The farther the shop is from the fort, the chances of getting a good bargain are higher.
7) Eat Local Food – Kher Sangri, Laal Maas and Junglee Mass
Jaisalmer has a variety of cafés and restaurants that specialize in European food. Strangely, it was hard to find good local food until we visited Saffron restaurant in the legendary Nachana Haveli.
We visited Nachana Haveli for literally every meal and really enjoyed their ker sangri (flavorful beans), junglee maas (wild meat) and laal maas (red meat).
Bonus point: this Haveli is stunningly beautiful. There is a royal family that lives here – the present Nachana Family. They are the descendants of Maharawal Jaisal (founder of Jaisalmer) and apparently their lineage dates back to Lord Krishna .
The folklore suggests that there was a curse on the royal family living inside the fort, and hence, the Nachana Haveli was built.
8) Try Bhaang Lassi and Cookies
Ever heard of a drink called Bhang? If you don’t live or have not been to India, then most likely you would have not heard of it. For those who don’t know, bhang is a drink made out of marijuana leaves and is deadly as hell. It’s legally sold here in many government authorized bhang shops that sell special bhang lassi as well as bhang cookies.
Try it at your own risk – it may not hit you at all or may take you to the moon, depending on a lot of other factors.
9) Sunset Boat Ride on Gadisagar Lake
Gadisagar Lake is a man-made lake which was made around 1400 A.D. to conserve rainwater. A ride on the paddle boat on the lake costs around 50 rupees for a person for an hour.
Go there before the sunset and spend some time on the tranquil waters. Watch the sunset and enjoy the sight of temples and shrines surrounding the lake. If you’re lucky, you will get to see some exotic migratory birds.
10) Get lost in the beauty and the culture of city
There are many attractions in the city, such as Badal Mahal, Jain Temples, Amar Sagar Lake, Havelies, museums, puppet shows, etc. However, leaving all these places aside, I had the most fun discovering this city by getting lost on its narrow streets and savoring the cultural sights.
At one time, I also saw a local sitting under a tree and making beautiful melodies out of his small stringed instrument – Sarangi .
From its squeaky clean roads and train station to the hospitality of smiling locals, a trip to Jaisalmer will definitely leave you with some good memories that will last you a lifetime. Do not miss this place at any cost. The best time to visit is from October to February.
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