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Things to do in Jaisalmer: a two-day itinerary discovering the best things to do in and around Jaisalmer Fort.
After a long car ride from Udaipur we are finally in Jaisalmer, the golden city of India.
As soon as you get to Jaisalmer you realize why they call it that. In fact, it looks like someone used a “yellow filter” on the city.
But this time Instagram has nothing to do with that! It’s the yellow sandstone walls that give the city its desert-like color.
Jaisalmer is precisely in the middle of the Thar Desert and was once a rest area for caravans and people traveling the Silk Road.
But Jaisalmer’s charm is not only about the desert. Jaisalmer is also one of the largest and best preserved fortified cities in the world, so much that UNESCO declared Jaisalmer Fort with its 99 bastions as World Heritage Site.
The bastions used to defend the city as Jaisalmer had to face many battles in the past. But today they are only needed to offer you a spectacular view at sunset!
Unfortunately we didn’t arrive in Jaisalmer on time for the sunset, but we definitely made up for the next couple of days. We spent the first day visiting the Fort and the second day we went to Gadisar Lake and took a desert safari tour.
So let’s find out what you can do in and around Jaisalmer!
THINGS TO DO IN JAISALMER FORT.
Walk around the maze of the twisting streets of Jaisalmer Fort, built in 1156 by King Rawal Jaisal.
Just wander around and get lost! You will see many Havelis, traditional residences with ornate carvings.
Every corner of the fort is worth a photo!
And you can totally go shopaholic! I got so much curry that I could open an Indian restaurant! Sooooo good!
While wandering around make sure not to miss these three things: the Royal Palace, the Jain Temples and the sunset from the bastions.
JAISALMER ROYAL PALACE.
Jaisalmer Royal Palace, or Palace of the Maharawal, is definitely one of the highlights of your trip to Jaisalmer.
The Royal Palace hosts the Jaisalmer Palace Museum with a collection of period items.
You can get some audioguides and listen to the story and details of the palace while visiting its rooms, balconies and courtyards.
The carvings of the palace are amazing! They are the work of the Silavats, Muslim sculptors and stonemasons.
When I walk through the palace I feel like I’m a little bit of a Jasmine! A blonde Jasmine but whatever!
Besides flying with your fantasy, another thing you can do in Jaisalmer Palace is to enjoy a magnificent view of the city. And take lots of pictures!
THE JAIN TEMPLES OF JAISALMER.
Another highlight of Jaisalmer are the Jain Temples, a complex of seven temples dating between the 13th and 15th century, carved from the same yellow sandstone as the fort.
Jains are the followers of Jina, a spiritual teacher from the same time as Buddha that had a great influence on Gandhi.
Jains believe in absolute non-violence and are a hundred percent vegetarian. To give you an example, they make sure all the time not to accidentally swallow or step on any insects!
Besides these interesting fun facts, the Jain temples are famous for their amazing ornate carvings!
Especially their particular marble statues of men, women and animals.
The Jain Temples are a really beautiful and magical place!
SUNSET FROM THE BASTIONS OF JAISALMER FORT.
And here is our number three of the best things to do in Jaisalmer: the sunset from the bastions of Jaisalmer Fort.
Walk along the bastions just before sunset and stop by one of the rooftop cafes to enjoy your drink while enjoying the amazing view of Jaisalmer.
Truly a memorable experience!
THINGS TO DO AROUND JAISALMER.
A short excursion to do around Jaisalmer is for sure Gadisar Lake, around 1 kilometer from Jaisalmer Fort.
You can walk there but we took a rickshaw (Jaisalmer is really really hot!!).
Gadisar Lake is an artificial lake made by Rawal Jaisal that provided water to the city from the 14th to the 20th century.
Today the lake is a peaceful place surrounded by temples and sanctuaries where animals look for a break from the striking heat of the city, just like you!
THAR DESERT SAFARI.
A safari on the Thar Desert is one of the most popular excursions from the city.
Safaris are usually in the afternoon to let people enjoy the beautiful sunset between the dunes of the desert.
You can ask the info points of the city or at the reception of your hotel. We stayed at the amazing Hotel Garh Jaisal Haveli.
Bear in mind that the desert is super hot and you need plenty of water. Usually tours include huge cases of water but make sure they do. Otherwise get as many water bottles as you can before the tour starts.
We took a jeep safari from Jaisalmer to Sam Sand Dunes including several stops along the way. Most safaris include a camel ride but we decided not to do it as we are not sure how they treat camels in this area.
Camel ride or not, a desert safari is an incredible experience that you should not miss!
One of the stops of the tour is a local village with houses made of mud and the holy cow dung! The kids of the village can’t wait to meet you and ask you for “one dollar”!
Another stop is the mysterious abandoned village of Kuldhara. The story of this place is very interesting. They say that all people of Kuldhara suddenly disappeared from the village in one night of 1825.
There are many theories why, starting from the lack of water, or to escape the persecution of the local governor, an earthquake, poisoned water, you name it!
And of course there are also many legends. They even say that Kuldhara is a village hunted by ghosts! Uuuuuhh!!
Before getting to the dunes, we stop by Khaba Fort, a fort dating from the 13th century, which was the focus of Kuldhara Village.
The fort is mostly ruined: part was restored and part was converted into a museum.
And we are finally at the highlight of our safari: Sam Sand Dunes.
While waiting for the sunset we take plenty of photos and selfies. It’s 50 degrees! We are smiling on the outside but dying on the inside!
But finally the sun goes down and hides between the dunes, bringing some cool air and a spectacular view that makes you say “it was really worth it!”.
We say bye to the desert and get back to Jaisalmer to pick up our bags. We are off to a night train ride to our next destination: Jodhpur.
Ok no, wait! Tell me this is a joke!
To be continued…