If you are travelling to Rajasthan then Jaisalmer is the one place where you have to go else your Rajasthan trip is incomplete. I had travelled to Jaisalmer along with my family during my grand tour of the state. My travel plan was Jaipur -> Ajmer – Pushkar -> Jaisalmer -> Jodhpur. In my previous blog, I have already shown you the beautiful Jaisalmer Fort or Sonar Kella in a series of photographs but this city has more to offer. In this blog, I will tell you about some of the local tourist spots that you can visit by just walking around the city as well as some destinations which you can go as a day trip.
Sticking around Jaisalmer city you have to visit the grand Haveli’s which once belonged to the ministers to the king and other prominent businessmen that once called this city their home. One of the most famous is that of Nathmal Ji Ki Haveli. This was the residence of Diwan Mohata Nathmal who was the prime minister to the Maharaja. The main attraction of this building are the two large stone elephants that stands at the entrance giving it a royal look. This haveli remains occupied by the family members thus your entry is restricted to the courtyard. There are some curio shops inside this place and trying your luck on some stone jewellery.
Moving up ahead we come to Patwon Ki Haveli, unlike Nathmal Ji Ki Haveli this palatial house is under ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) and one can just purchase a ticket to access all the five storied structure with a beautiful terrace from where you get one of the best views of Jaisalmer Fort.
The entire structure is made of sand stone and the intricate stone work on the frontage is beyond what words can describe. Similar to Jaisalmer the front façade glows like a gold when the rays of the sun hit it from and angle of sundown degrees. There is quite a large bat population within the walls of this building and the stench of its droppings can be a bit too much sometimes.
Patwon Ki Haveli belonged to a businessman named Guman Chand Patwa and the prosperity of his business as a jewellery merchant can be seen in the structure and the level of fine architecture that was put in to build this haveli. This place is actually a complex of five structures built for his five sons.
Just next to Patwon Ki Haveli, there is Kothari Ki Haveli, though the architectural type is similar but it’s a private residence of the Khotaris and having smelled a good business opportunity they have privately started their own ticket counter for a private tour of their residence. Be aware that this place is not under the ASI and not a heritage site. Since this is the first building on the set of the complex they will misguide you to purchase the ticket and go in thus it’s better to ignore them and move ahead.
This place also has some wood puppet seller and if you want to buy some souvenir then this is the right place. I would again remind that you do bargain well before closing a deal.
A short distance from Jaisalmer Fort you will see an isolated spot with many sand stone cenotaphs (Chatris), this place is known as Bada Bagh. These cenotaphs belong to the Maharajas (Kings) of Jaisalmer. This place has an eerie feeling and it so happened that when I reached it was late evening and with no one around and a setting sun this place felt spooky.
Gadisar Lake is a very important structure as a tourist spot as well as for the very fact that this is a large water body and with deserts surrounding the city the entire population of the town is heavily dependent on this source of water. I was told by very senior gentlemen from this city that there is a saying that goes something like this “Jaisalmer mein doodh or ghee say nehla dengay lekin pani maat mango”
Built in the year 1367 by Rawal Jaisal the same king who built Jaisalmer Fort this place has quite a few temples and cenotaphs and a short trip is recommended. There are regular traditional Rajasthani puppet show in the evening after sun down and one can spend a good entertaining evening with stories of war, kings, and queens.
Slightly off the tourist map is the Jaisalmer Wind Park, as the name suggest, it’s a massive wind power generation setup and you really do not have to go near to see it, you can see the massive windmills from kilometres away.
A trip to Jaisalmer is also incomplete if you do not visit the Sam Sand Dunes. To get the real desert fell it’s important that you go for this trip. In order to visit the Sam you need to contact a local travel agent or even your hotel travel desk will be able to help you in this regard. Usually excursions to Sam Sand Dunes comes as a package tour, the car will pick you up in the afternoon and take you to the edges of the dunes, from here you will be taken on a Camel Safari tour to the sand dunes and left there to spend a couple of hours with tons and tons of sand. Once it gets dark you would be directed towards several tents where you will be entertained with some authentic Rajasthani desert music along with a traditional dinner. By the time you will reach back it will be around 10 at night.
This was my first experience with camel safari and goodness me it’s a real pain in the lower back. Initially, it was a fun ride but after a couple of minutes, you wish it had never started in the first place. At Sam Sand Dunes you can also go for a camel race which is to be paid additionally but for me, it was never an option as I was petrified with anything to do with camels.
The evening entertainment was the usual traditional folk songs along with some beautiful rustic dances. The highlight of the evening was the Fire Dance which was performed by Queen Harish.
Be warned that at night the desert can be quite a chill thus pack some light jacket if you are travelling around October – March. On your way back do remember to ask your driver to stop and an isolated spot and turn off the engine. Get out of the vehicle and look up, you will witness a magic of a billion stars.
I hope you have enjoyed my blog with different tourist spots around Jaisalmer. There are few more additional spots like Salim Ji Ki Haveli, Kuldhara, Desert National Park, Thar Heritage Museum etc. that you can also visit along with the above list. Since I have personally not visited these places thus have not blogged about them.
In my next blog I will take you to a place where once the cannon balls rolled and bullets flew all across, it’s none other than the battleground of Longewala. Till them have a great day.