Nothing else in India is remotely similar to Jaisalmer. Its
desert fort, which resembles a gigantic sandcastle, is straight
out of ' The housand and One Nights '. There are many havelis
which can be found elsewhere in Rajasthan, but nowhere are they
quite as exquisite as in Jaisalmer. Even the humblest shops
and houses display something of the Rajput love of the decorative
arts. There is a down side to Jaisalmer becoming one of Rajasthan's
most popular tourist destinations. Jaisalmer is a great place
to simply wander. The old city was once completely surrounded
by an extensive wall, much of which has sadly been ripped away
in recent times for building material. Some of it remains, however,
including the city gates and, inside them, the massive fort
which rises above the city and is the essence of Jaisalmer.
The main market area is directly below the hill, while the banks,
the new palace and several other shops and offices are near
the Amar Sagar Gate to the west.
The Jaisalmer Fort:
Jaisalmer Fort is the most alive of any museum, fort or palace
that you are likely to visit in India. It was built in 1156
by the Rajput ruler Jaisala. About a quarter of the old city's
population resides within the fort walls. The fort is entered
through a forbidding series of massive gates leading to a large
The delicate pagoda like Tazia Tower rises from Badal Mahal
(Cloud Palace). Rising in its five tiered splendour, with each
storey graced by a delicately carved balcony, the tower is of
This haveli was built about 300 years ago and part of it is
still occupied. Salim Singh was the prime minister when Jaisalmer
was the capital of a princely state, and his mansion has a beautifully
arched roof with superb carved brackets in the form of peacocks.
The mansion is just below the hill and it is said, once had
two additional wooden storeys in an attempt to make it as high
as the Maharaja's palace, but the maharaja had the upper storeys
A scenic rain water lake with numerous beautiful shrines around.
The lake is an idyllic spot for outings.
Within the fort walls are a group of beautifully carved Jain
temples built between the 12th and 15th centuries. They are
dedicated to Rikhabdev and Sambhavanth. Gyan Bhandar or Library
: Some of the oldest manuscripts of India are found in this
library established as a part of Jain temples.
The impressive mansions built by the wealthy merchants of Jaisalmer
are known as havelis, and several of these fine sandstone buildings
are still in good condition.
It is one of the largest and most elaborate houses in Jaisalmer.
It is five storeys high, extinsively carved. It is divided into
six apartments, two owned by the Archaeological Survey of India,
Two by families who operate craftshops here, and two private
This late 19th century haveli was also a prime minister's house.
This haveli was carved by two brothers, one working on the right
side and the other on the left. Yellow sandstone elephants guard
the building, and even the front door is a work of art.
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